Step by step recipe of traditional Chinese water chestnut cake. Have you ever encountered with Chinese water chestnut cake in dim sum halls? They look yellow and transparent and present a sweet taste.

water chestnut cake

Water chestnut known as 马蹄 in Chinese, is a popular fruit, which has a unique sweetness and comforting crisp texture. Traditionally, housewives mainly make Chinese water chestnut cake to celebrate Chinese New Year along with other Chinese style cakes like radish cake. However the chilled version is a great dessert for summer days too. You may find that the cake has a brown color, which is actually bought by the sugar. If you prefer to have a more lighten one or even white one, simply replace the brown sugar partially or completely by rock sugar.

Check the ingredients firstly, the right picture shows the water chestnut flour and slab sugar, the left side is fresh water chestnut (usually available in winter).water chestnut cake

Soak the water chestnut flour with 150ml water for around 10 minutes.

During the process, dissolve sugar with the remaining water (550ml) over slow fire. Until the sugar is completely dissolved, cook the chopped water chestnut for 2 minutes and immediately stir the sugar water to soaked flour mixture. At this time, you will get a thick batter.


water chestnut cake

Set up the steamer and steam for 20 minutes.

water chestnut cake

And in order to make the cake as square as possible, I use an 8 inch and 50cm high square baking pan. However just make sure you get a large enough steam set up or you can either make less each time or store the batter in two square or rectangular steamers separately.

When hot, the cake will be crystal and transparent.

water chestnut cake

cool down completely and then cut into thick slices.

water chestnut cake

water chestnut cake

Water Chestnut Cake

Chinese style water chestnut cake--a traditional and yummy dim sum dessert
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: cake, Water Chestnut
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 full of a 8 inch square pan and around 4 cm thick
Calories: 201kcal
Author: Elaine


  • 125 g water chestnut flour
  • 5 fresh water chestnut , or you can use canned one too
  • 2 slabs of sugar pieces , around 190g, this can be replaced by brown sugar or white sugar
  • 700 ml water , 150ml for soaking + 550ml for sugar water


  • Soak the flour with 150ml water and stir until smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes. Then re-stir. You can strain the mixture if necessary.
  • In a deep plan, add the remaining water and the sugar pieces, heat over slow fire until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to boil and add minced fresh water chestnut in. Stop fire until the content begin to boil again.
  • After the sugar water boils, stir the sugar water slowly to the square pan for soaking the flour in first step immediately. During the process, keep stirring the flour water to avoid settling to the bottom. After adding the boiling sugar water, the batter will become really thick. Shake it slightly to trowel.
  • Set up the steamer and wok and then steam the batter for around 20 minutes. To check whether the batter is completely done, insert a toothpick in and see whether it is clean after pulling out.
  • Cook down completely and then cut it into thick slices. In summer days, it can be directly served cold after stored in fridge. And in winter days, pan-frying the cake with a small amount of oil and serve hot.


Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 36mg | Sugar: 48g | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.3mg

water chestnut cake
You can enjoy them directly or store the left in refrigerator. And in winter days, pan-frying them for re-heat.

water chestnut cake
water chestnut cake

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  1. Hi Elaine,

    I can’t really get the water chestnut flour, but for some time now I’ve seen fresh water chestnuts at the store and I would love to try them. Do you know any other recipes using them?

  2. to make this simple recipe even tastier use flour from guangzhou and combine 2 sugars instead of one, golden honey slab sugar and rock sugar
    disolve both at same time and add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture rather than the method suggested here
    be sure to use low heat after combining and be sure to cook for a proper amount of time to ensure the thickening is correct
    I am a white guy enjoying the chinese cusine in my home and all my chinese friends love my changes

    1. Hello,
      I was wondering how I should store this? I want to make it as a present but it will be out the fridge for a few hours when I am travelling, is this okay?
      Thank you!

  3. Hi, Elaine I cannot seem to find this water chestnut flour. I went ti Sheng Siong Supermarket but could not find it and bought tapioca starch. That is not the same thing, correct? Where do you find this water chestnut flour? Helo! Thank you…

    1. Linda!
      Sorry, I am based in China and thus can’t help with offline stores. But you can get this from amazon.

  4. is it possible to substitute water chestnut flour with a mixture of other flours? obviously the taste will never be the same, but I wonder how close it may be

    1. This dish tastes like water chestnuts. If you use other flour instead, even if the final effect is similar, there will definitely be a difference in taste.