Chinese steamed sponge cake
Ovens aren’t commonly found in China, so bread products are often steamed on the stovetop. This light, eggy cake, similar to a genoise sponge cake, is traditionally made from flour, sugar and whole eggs. But a touch of baking powder makes for a more reliable rise. Adapted from Grace Young’s classic Widsom of the Chinese Kitchen.
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
- Pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Line an 8-inch cake pan with wax paper or parchment paper. Identify a wide pot or wok that can accommodate the pan and a rack that can fit in the pot and hold the pan above water level (you can also sit the pan on 2-inch high cans with ends cut out). Add water to about 1/2-inch below rack. Cover pot and heat water while you mix cake.
- Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add eggs to a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat eggs for one minute and add sugar slowly. Beat for until mixture thickens, about five minutes.
- Gradually whisk flour mixture into eggs. Add vanilla extract.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Set pan on rack and cover pot. Turn heat to medium and steam until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. If you run out of water during cooking (ie you stop seeing steam), carefully add boiling water to pan. Take care when removing lid so that condensation from lid does not drip on cake. Serve cake warm or cooled.
- If using different-sized eggs: total egg volume should be about 1 cup.
- Cake flour substitution: remove two tablespoons from 1 cup of all-purpose flour; replace with two tablespoons cornstarch (aka corn flour). Or if you don’t have cornstarch, simply use the smaller amount of all-purpose flour.
- You may also substitute almond extract for vanilla.
Here’s a link back to the post and pictures.