You are on page 1of 17

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 1 of17

H om e
A bout
R ecipes
B rain food
D iscoveries
Fam ily
Food
R ecipes
G iftideas
chinese grandm a

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (ji dan gao)


8 February 2013
N obody goes to a C hinese restaurantfor dessert.D airy products such as cream and butter,so essential
to pastry,w ere uncom m on in C hina until recent years.E ven today,ovens are nottypically found in
C hinese kitchens.T raditional C hinese treats are m ade on the stovetop fried goodies such as sw eet,
chew y sesam e seed balls m ade w ith rice flour,or steam ed treats such as the sticky C hinese N ew Y ear
rice flour cake called nian gao.C loser to a W estern idea of dessert is this soft,springy sponge cake
m ade sim ply w ith eggs,sugar and flour.
In A m erica,steam ing as a cooking technique is pretty m uch lim ited to vegetables.B ut the C hinese
know how to m ake use of this versatile m ethod w ith succulent steam ed fish,m oist steam ed chicken,
and,m ostnotably,the vastarray of dum plings and other bite-sized savories stacked in tow ers of
bam boo steam ers atdim sum .

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 2 of17

D uring m y 20s in N ew Y ork C ity,no w eekeend dim sum excursion to C hinatow n w as com plete
w ithouta steam ed sponge cake to take hom e a couple of dollars for a square so giant that even after
pulling off sw eet,cushy bites all the w ay hom e I w ould still have plenty for a snack later that day and
perhaps even the next.
Steam ed sponge cake is the rare dim sum item that is easily m ade at hom e.It has the springiness of
angelfood cake but a fuller flavor,like a regular om elet com pared to an egg w hite one.Its
Italian/French sponge cake cousin,the genoise,can be dry,butsteam ing m akes the C hinese version
softer and m oister,even w ithout the added butter of m any genoise cakes.
T his is a cake for snacking.Itw orks for breakfast not health food,but itis very eggy or to grab a
slice on the run.Its spongy texture m akes itconvenient for eating out of hand,unlike a regular cake
w hich w ould be too crum bly,and its light vanilla sw eetness is appealing any tim e of day.
I
ve m ade this cake m any tim es over m any years,and it is never quite perfect.B utI don
t m ake this
cake for its looks; a steam ed cake w ill never have the nicely golden crustof a baked one.It
s a cake I
m ake justbecause I like to eatit.
Y ou don
tneed a bam boo steam er to m ake this cake.U sually I justm ake itin the steam er basket of
m y pasta potafter lining itw ith w ax paper.B ut m ore attractive is to use a regular 8-inch cake pan.
Find a w ide,covered pot that w ill fit the pan,and the only trick is finding a rack to fitin the bottom of
the potthatw ill hold the cake pan above the boiling w ater.A s G race Y oung suggests in her classic
W isdom of the C hinese K itchen,you can also prop the pan on em pty 2-inch cans w ith the ends cut
out.

T his is one recipe thatcalls for an electric m ixer.Y ou can m ix m anually w ith a w hisk,but an electric
m ixer w illincorporate m ore air and m ake a lighter cake.
I like the purity of the egg-sugar-flour approach w ithout additionalleavening.B ut it is hard for m e to
geta consistent result,and often I get spots in the cake that are denser than others.

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 3 of17

I tried the genoise approach of beating the eggs over a hot w ater bath to incorporate m ore air into the
egg-sugar m ixture.B ut that cake ended up driest of all.A nd it took a lot longer to beat the eggs
sufficiently high.

In this version I m ade a sm aller batch in a bam boo steam er.

T his one looked the best.

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 4 of17

M y fam ily liked the sim plest egg-sugar-flour version best,w ith no baking pow der and no w ater bath.
It
s denser than the ones you
d buy in C hinatow n,and I still had a few spots that fell a bit (see the
darker yellow bits).B ut the kids loved the soft denseness of it.

O ld schoolC hinese cooks m ade this cake w ith a bow l each of eggs,sugar and flour,w ithoutthe aid of
m easuring cups or electric m ixers.B ut in the end,I think a little baking pow der m akes for a m ore
forgiving recipe.M y lastbaking-pow der version w asn
t visually perfect (left foreground below )
probably because I
m too rushed to siftm y flour or m ake sure m y batter is even butit w orks and
tastes like itshould.

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 5 of17

So restassured,as w ith all recipes featured here,perfection is notrequired.I have no doubtthe m ore
carefulam ong you w ill easily outdo m y efforts.B ut I think even an im perfect rendition w on
t
disappoint.

H appy C hinese N ew Y ear on Sunday! Y ear of the snake,or as the C hinese like to call it
euphem istically,
little dragon.W ishing double happiness to you all.
C hinese Steam ed Sponge C ake

O vens aren
tcom m only found in C hina,so bread products are often steam ed on the stovetop.This
light,eggy cake,sim ilar to a genoise sponge cake,is traditionally m ade from flour,sugar and w hole

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 6 of17

eggs.B uta touch ofbaking pow der m akes for a m ore reliable rise.A dapted from G race Young
s
classic W idsom ofthe C hinese K itchen.
Ingredients
5 large eggs,at room tem perature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking pow der (optional)
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
D irections
1. L ine an 8-inch cake pan w ith w ax paper or parchm ent paper.Identify a w ide pot or w ok that
can accom m odate the pan and a rack that can fit in the pot and hold the pan above w ater level
(you can also sit the pan on 2-inch high cans w ith ends cutout).A dd w ater to about 1/2-inch
below rack.C over pot and heat w ater w hile you m ix cake.
2. Sifttogether flour,baking pow der and salt.
3. A dd eggs to a large m ixing bow l.U sing an electric m ixer on high speed,beat eggs for one
m inute and add sugar slow ly.B eat for until m ixture thickens,aboutfive m inutes.
4. G radually w hisk flour m ixture into eggs.A dd vanilla extract.
5. Pour batter into prepared pan.Set pan on rack and cover pot.T urn heat to m edium and steam
untiltoothpick inserted into center com es out clean,about 20-25 m inutes.If you run out of
w ater during cooking (ie you stop seeing steam ),carefully add boiling w ater to pan.T ake care
w hen rem oving lid so that condensation from lid does not drip on cake.Serve cake w arm or
cooled.
N otes
If using different-sized eggs: total egg volum e should be about 1 cup.
C ake flour substitution: rem ove tw o tablespoons from 1 cup of all-purpose flour; replace w ith
tw o tablespoons cornstarch (aka corn flour).O r if you don
t have cornstarch,sim ply use the
sm aller am ount of all-purpose flour.
Y ou m ay also substitute alm ond extract for vanilla.
H ere
s the link to a printable version.
T his w ork,unless otherw ise expressly stated,is licensed under a C reative C om m ons
A ttribution-N onC om m ercial-ShareA like 3.0 U nported L icense.
{ 32 com m ents read them below oradd one }

bablu shahani24 M arch 2013 at 9:13 pm


H ow is ppossible chinese cuisine in cake in steam e proccer to m ake cake and other is possible
please send m ail inform m e other dish also thanks

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 7 of17

R eply

cg 26 M arch 2013 at 10:52 pm


hi bablu i am sorry,iam notsure w hatyou are asking? you can find a list of recipes
here if thathelps.thanks.
R eply

kikukat25 M arch 2013 at10:58 pm


T his looks so ono (if you are fam iliar enough w ith H aw aii to enjoy hurricane popcorn,I
m sure
you know this term ).I think this is the sam e thing som e of us here call gai dahn biang.T hank
you for sharing your technique,and thank you for sharing about your journey w ith your dad.I
found m yself tearing up as I read it and know that one day I w ill need to w alk in your shoes.I
hope I can show the sam e resilience and strength you did.A loha.
R eply

cg 26 M arch 2013 at 11:00 pm


hi kikukat m ahalo for your kind w ords and for taking the tim e to share here! aloha.
R eply

kirsten 6 A pril 2013 at 2:37 pm


I did the recipe like you said,but it didnt rise after even 25 m inutes.W hat am I doing w rong?
R eply

cg 15 A pril 2013 at 1:36 am


hi kirsten sorry for the late response,iw as unplugged for a w eek on holiday.as for your
stubbornly unrisen cakethis recipe is harder than m ost to troubleshoot because of the
finicky nature of eggs.did it taste ok,just flat? did you use the baking pow der? i like the
pure eggs-flour-sugar recipe,but the addition of baking pow der does help the cake to rise.
even in seem ingly identical conditions,the cake is never exactly the sam e for m e
perhaps due to volum e differences in eggs,differences in flours,w eather conditions (w ho
know s??).so the baking pow der is kind of an insurance policy of sorts.
R eply

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 8 of17

K irsten 23 A pril 2013 at 3:00 pm


N o,it didn
t rise atall,I m ean,it w as just D O U G H .I actually did use baking
pow der.I also used a 8-8 inchround m etal pan w ith parchem entpaper.T hen I took
a w ire rack thatcovered the top of a w ok,and put the pan w ith the batter in it over
thatw hen itstarted to steam .M e and m y friend used this recipe before-it w as
fabulous.
R eply

cg 25 A pril 2013 at 12:57 am


hi kirsten sounds like you did everything right,so i
m outof ideas on w hat
w ent w rong.=( i
m sorry,that is such a bum m er w hen you spend tim e
m aking som ething and getfrustration instead of rew ard.buti
m glad that
you
ve used the recipe successfully before.
R eply

Ice 11 July 2013 at 1:15 am


just a com m ent and a thoughtthatare w ay late after A pr13
irrelevantto you

m ay be

I heard m y m other m entioned before,w hen baking/stream ing anything


over the stove (ie notoven) on chinese pastry,old granny saying is

donttalk/laughor w hatever w hen its cooking.Som e supersitious


saying,thatis,the food w ill becom e petty and w ill notraise as it
should be even thou one had follow receipe and all.T hat
s w hat I
m
been told w hen she
s stream ing
Fa G aofor C N Y .:
)
that did happen in our kitchen
Since this dish require abit of raising,m aybe,thatis the cause? W ho
know s!!

C assie 28 July 2013 at 5:17 pm


H i! C an I ask w hat you use as liner in a basket? I
ve never steam ed in a basket before.It looks
delicious!
R eply

cg 28 July 2013 at 7:54 pm

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 9 of17

hi cassie w ax paper or parchm ent paper w illw ork.good luck!


R eply

jew els 28 July 2013 at 5:45 pm


itried this today w ith half the portions of everything and it w ork out really w ell.very yum m y.
thanks.
R eply

cg 28 July 2013 at 8:04 pm


hi jew els good to know a half-size w orks too! thanks so m uch for sharing back.
R eply

SC 11 D ecem ber 2013 at 7:01 pm


H ello C G ,
I am preparing to m ake this delicious looking spongy cake.W ould you recom m end a hand
electric m ixer or sit-on-table m ixer?
T hanks
R eply

hew 15 A pril 2014 at 5:30 am


H i..m ay I know can I used the m ental greased m ould instaed w ax paper w ith bam boo basket.?
R eply

cg 15 A pril 2014 at 11:49 pm


hi hew good question.yes,the m etal pan is ok too.you m ay w ant to grease w ith
shortening sponge cakes are tricky,and you w ant to m ake sure the cake can clim b up
the sides of the pan.this postatm om m ie cooks has a great explanation of the science
behind sponge cakes.good luck!
R eply

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 10 of17

hew 16 A pril 2014 at 7:25 am


T hanks! O ne m ore question m ay I know w hat kind of cup u r using? A s I m afraid
using the dii size of cup m ay not b anle to get the sam e result
R eply

hew 16 A pril 2014 at 7:26 am


T hanks! O ne m ore question m ay I know w hat kind of cup u r using? A s I m afraid using the dii
size of cup m ay notb anle to get the sam e result
R eply

cg 16 A pril 2014 at 3:20 pm


hi hew one cup is 8 ounces.hope that helps!
R eply

Jessica 3 O ctober 2014 at 9:24 am


H ello! I have m ade this cake so m any tim es and I love it.
H ow ever,I am m aking one at the m inute and itit not steam ing properly,I am using a bam boo
steam er but it is not fully cooked as itis still gooey in the m iddle.A partfrom keep steam ing it
for longer,is there anything else I can do to get this cake cooked?
M any T hanks,
Jessica
R eply

cg 3 O ctober 2014 at 9:41 am


hi jessica m ore steam ing is all in can think of.if you have all the ingredients correct,it
should cook through eventually.eggs can be tricky fingers crossed itw orks out!!
R eply

K athy 4 O ctober 2014 at 8:36 pm

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 11 of17

I don
tknow how I m anaged to m iss this recipe after perusing your site so often.T hanks so
m uch for sharing your fam ily
s traditional recipes.W e adopted our younger (now alm ost 11
years old) daughter from C hina,and I w as w ondering if you
ve ever had a sm all C hinese pastry
filled w ith pum pkin? W hen w e w ere in Jiangxi Province,in N anchang,w e had this delicious
dessert sort of a crescent shaped,very sm all pie that w e w ere told w as
the C hinese version of
pum pkin pieand that pum pkin w as a big part of the local people
s diet in this particular area
during the C C R .I
ve searched the internet but haven
tfound the recipe.
R eply

cg 23 O ctober 2014 at 10:27 am


hi kathy sorry i
m super late on responding to com m ents! ihaven
t had a chinese pastry
w ith pum pkin,butit sounds delicious.buti did recently see a post by m y friend m arcella
forbrow n butter pum pkin steam ed buns thatsound phenom enal.m aybe thatw ould do? in
any case,they look am azing i
m hoping to try them too this fall.=)
R eply

C hristine 1 D ecem ber 2014 at 5:00 pm


C ould i use alm ond flour instead of cake flour? w ould it be 1 to 1?
T hanks!
R eply

cg 1 D ecem ber 2014 at 5:39 pm


hi christine substituting flours is very tricky.flours differ in so m any w ays (w eight,
absorption,stickiness/gluten) that w ill affect the finalproduct.m y feeling is that alm ond
flour w ill be too heavy for the egg to hold up the cake.you could try separating your
eggs,as in this sponge cake recipe the stiff w hites m ay help hold the cake.i don
t know
if it w ould w ork your best bet is to startw ith a recipe designed for alm ond flour but
you could give it a shot.good luck!
R eply

JuneB ug 4 January 2015 at3:06 pm


H I! I just m ade this.I used alm ond extract(1 tsp) butfound the egginess w as overpow ering
though I loved the texture.I
m def.going to try again w /the vanilla and m aybe a hintm ore I
used the full scale m etal steam er they have in restaurants b/c m y dad has an extra one he left at
m y place,and a springform pan w /o any liningno sticking at all! T hank you!

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 12 of17

R eply

cg 28 July 2013 at 8:00 pm


hiice oops,inever replied to your com m ent! i love your m om
s saying sim ilar to the idea
of notm aking loud noises w hen you have a souffle in the oven.though alas,there is no silence
in m y house! m aybe that is m y problem w ith the uneven steam ed cakes =P thanks so m uch
for sharing!
R eply

cg 11 D ecem ber 2013 at 7:17 pm


either one!
R eply

Sissy C hen 13 D ecem ber 2013 at 10:15 pm


H ello C G ,
I m ade it.It cam e out sooooo good.I didn
tuse baking soda.
C an ifind any other C hinese dessert like red bean cake in your m agic cook book?
T hanks
Sissy
R eply

cg 13 D ecem ber 2013 at 11:52 pm


hisissy so glad the cake turned out w ell for you! you are right m y chinese recipes are far
from com plete.i
m no expert,but ido try to docum entthe dishes i grew up w ith.red bean cake
isn
tsom ething m y m om m akes,unfortunately,so i have no idea how to m ake it! let m e know
if you find a good one m aybe i should give it a try.=)
R eply

SC 22 D ecem ber 2013 at 11:20 pm

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 13 of17

I found this.W anna give it a try?


http://yireservation.com /recipes/v-day-treats-steam ed-red-bean-cake/
R eply

cg 7 January 2014 at 2:47 pm


hiSC looks yum m y,thanks so m uch for sharing! =)
R eply
L eave a C om m ent
N am e *
E -m ail*
W ebsite

S ubm it

N otify m e of follow -up com m ents by em ail.


N otify m e of new posts by em ail.
{ 1 trackback }
W eekend cooking: D im Sum |O lduvai R eads
Previous post:H am and cabbage soup
N extpost:R em em bering bread

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 14 of17

w elcom e
chinese grandm a is a philosophy about food,fam ily,health and practicality inspired by oldschoolgrandm as everyw here.It's about cooking good food,living a good life,and sharing
lessons learned.M ore about m e...
kitchen tour!
D id you see m y dream kitchen featured on the K itchn? T hanks to lovely m anaging editorFaith
D urand for a fantastic visitand for sharing m y balsam ic vinaigrette w ith her readers.

subscribe via em ail

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 15 of17

enter your em ailaddress


subscribe

favorite posts
Persim m on bread
Spinach dip (w ithout the m ix)
B roccoli salad w ith G reek yogurt,cranberries and alm onds
Pear torte
W ild rice confettisalad
Shredded kale and brussels sprout salad
T o search, type and hit enter
recent com m ents
JuneB ug: H I! I just m ade this.I used alm ond extract (1 tsp) but found the egginess w as
overpow ering though I loved...
kari: Y es i follow ed your directions exactly.
kari: H i! W hen m aking this itnever got thick? W hat did i do w rong? I double checked
the recipe to m ake sure I...
Fat D ave: T hanks for the m ention.G lad you enjoyed the recipe!
K at: T hese are great gift ideas.I hope you and your fam ily have a w onderful holiday.
H appy N ew Y ear!
archives
S elect M onth

brow se by category
A sian (16)
B ath (1)
B everages (10)
B rain food (15)
B reakfast(16)
C hicken/poultry (22)
C hocolate (7)
C olum bus,O H (5)
C onferences (4)
D eath (6)
D iet (7)
D iscoveries (16)
E czem a (3)
Fam ily (18)
Favorite gadgets (6)
Food (176)

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 16 of17

Fruit (27)
G etting older (12)
G iftideas (19)
G luten-free (31)
H ealth (12)
H ouse (6)
K ids (22)
K ids'gifts (12)
L eftovers (8)
L ife as a parent(15)
L ife hacks (3)
L inks (2)
M arriage (3)
M y kitchen (10)
M y m om and dad (9)
Pasta (10)
R ecipes (140)
Salads (28)
Seafood (5)
Silicon V alley,C A (4)
Soups/stew s (11)
Sw eets (46)
T E D T alks (8)
T hanksgiving (29)
T houghts (35)
T ravel(14)
V egan (25)
V egetarian (55)
V eggies (40)
recipes!
R ecipes
90-m inute cinnam on rolls
A pplesauce
A rugula,pear and parm esan salad
B acon in the oven
B alsam ic vinaigrette
B anana bread L isa
B anana chocolate chip m uffins
B lackberry cobbler
B lueberry m uffins (adapted from Ina G arten)
B lueberry sour cream pie
B row n sugar quesadillas
C andied w alnuts (or pecans)
C hicken adobo
C hicken and green bean stir fry
C hocolate pie

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15

C hinese steam ed sponge cake (jidan gao) |chinese grandm a

Page 17 of17

C ream y chicken and rice soup


C ucum ber avocado soup
D erby pie
D ried fruit cream scones
E gg,cheese and sausage strata (breakfastcasserole)
Fennel,orange and avocado salad
Five m inute chocolate cake
Flaxseed pancakes
French toast
Fried rice (using C hinese takeout leftovers)
G ingerbread cake
G reen beans w ith feta and balsam ic vinegar
H am antaschen
H otfudge sauce
L ighter brighter caesar salad
M ascarpone cream cake w ith boozy berries
N utty fruity granola
O atm eal chocolate chip (or cranberry-raisin) cookies
O rzo w ith zucchini,lem on,m int and feta
Penne w ith tom ato sausage sauce
Pum pkin applesauce cake
Q uinoa arugula salad
R oasted cauliflow er w ith parm esan and olives
R oasted fennelw ith parm esan
Shrim p tacos w ith tom ato and cilantro
Spaghetti sauce and turkey m eatballs
Straw berry oatm eal shortcakes w ith m aple vanilla cream
T eriyaki sauce
T urkey chili

G etsm artw ith the T hesis W ordPress T hem e from D IY them es.

file:///C :/U sers/joe/A ppD ata/L ocal/T em p/L ow /N X Z 9B N G 2.htm

05-Jan-15