Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chinese New Year Cake

Chinese New Year Cake came quickly and brought many happy thoughts.  It brought quite a few fond memories in our life as family having lived in different countries.  Chinese New Year Cake is one of the favorite items that my mother has been preparing for us since we left South Viet-Nam.  Back then, we just go out and select and buy the ones we like best from the local street merchants and markets.  Sometimes, we thought, "it's too much."  But when we heard that she wasn't making it this year -- we Panicked!!  So, I stepped in and made some.

Ingredients to the first group of Chinese New Year Cakes were made from:
6 Cups of Glutinous Rice powder --- One and half packages of "Glutinous Rice" Powder - It's normally packaged in "Green" writing.  The package with the red writing is "Rice Powder".  (By the way, the Rice Powder is great to use on the baking peel to transfer bread into baking stone.)
2 Cups of brown sugar - Whole package of Asian Brown Sugar (in the picture below.)
Sweet Jujube (pictured below -- worded "honeyed Date" << date is the straight translation
And 2 Cups boiling wate
Greased parchment paper.
Large top pot large enough to hold one Large bamboo steamer.
Or use Stainless steamer.
Bamboo steamer is really a preferred steamer.  The bamboo steamer allows the steam to escape upward evenly and steams the product without causing the steam droplets to accumulate on the food to make them 'watery'.

If you are using the parchment paper to line the cake mold, please remember to grease them with vegalene spray or vegetable oil.  I did not think about this until after completing the cake.  While the normal recipe calls to use the plastic wrap, please don't.  Unless you are using a heavy duty Food Grade certified non-leaching plastic wrap and PVC free, etc, please use something else.   Oiled/greased baking pan would have worked as well to slide out the steamed sticky cake.  Here, I used the parchment paper, but please don't forget to grease it with vegetable cooking oil.
Prepare 3 removable bottom 4" cake molds lined with greased parchment paper.
You see four cake molds below, but one of them is aluminum pie tin.  To make a nice 2 to 2-1/4" height cake, you only can fill three molds with this recipe.  Otherwise, you can make one gigantic round cake - 12-inch cake mold - the size of your bamboo steamer.
 Boil water and remove from heat and dissolve the brown sugar in it.  Let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes - depending on your kitchen temperature.  Because you will be mixing it into the glutinous rice powder, and you do not want to burn your hand while mixing it.  But the sugar water should be hot enough to dissolve the glutinous rice powder and for your hand to handle, but not cold.
 Bring the steam's water to full boil.
 Mix the glutinous rice powder with your brown sugar water.
Mix well to form into good smooth paste.
 Sweet Jujubes - about a cup or so - enough to make the decoration on the top.

 6 Cups of Glutinous Rice is enough to make 3 rounds of 4" Cake mold size and one pie tin mold.   or 3 full 4" cake mold.    These cake mold's bottoms are removable.  It will be easier to push the cake out when done.

 Steam for 2 hours over high heat.
And warning!! have at least 4 cups of HOT  water ready at 1 hour of steaming and check the boiling water level of the pot.   Replenish the pot with HOT boiling water!!

New Year Cake type #2
 While the first group of the New Year Cakes were being steam, I started to work on the variation type #2 that I concocted - using Microwave.
Ingredients are 1 package and Half of the "Glutinous Rice"; 1 Cup Dark brown sugar + 1 Cup regular sugar.
And add it to 2 Cups hot boiling water.
 Bring the water into boil - turn off the heat and add sugar to dissolve.
 Let the boiling water to cool off for 5 minutes.  Add to "Glutinous Rice Powder" in a large mixing bowl.  Mix well to form paste.
 Place in a microwaveable bowl.  Put all the goodies you want.
I put sweet Jujube, chopped - pressed down and covered with the mixed glutinous rice, then, topped with Jujube sliced lengthwise.  The other half is filled with sweetened Taro root paste.  (from my other blog:
Taro root filling:
300 g  Pre-peeled Large Taro, cut into small chunks and cooked (microwaved), and mashed
2 Tbsp Milk
1/2 C sugar

Microwave the Taro root chunks on a plate with 1 Tbsp of water and covered with microwave plastic cover shield.  Use "potato" setting to cook till tender.  Stir from time to time to make sure that they are cooked evenly and not overcooked to become 'petrified'.
Remove from the microwave and let it steam for few minutes without uncovering.
Add all ingredients in the food processor.  Process until it becomes paste like consistency.

Press the Taro paste down and cover also with the rice mixture.

Place the bowl on the microwaveable tray filled with 1/4 cup of water and cover with microwaveable lid.  The microwaveable tray also helps in safely removing the hot bowl from the microwave.  Especially the "glass" bowl like the ones that I am using.
Please be careful when using the glass bowl that will be cooking to high temp.  If it's surface touches the "cold" anything, it will crack. 
 Let's see how it goes!

 Seems to be forming....
 Seems to be gelatinizing...
 Seems to  be cooking...
 Ah!, the other cakes are done!  
 Well, the Microwaved cake looks very wrinkly - not enough steam to cook it through (translucent) and raise it.
 All right, back to the drawing board.
To save the microwave flopped cake, I transferred the cake onto a large ceramic plate (heat resistant) or I guess you could place it on top of a cheese cloth that is oiled.  I know that in the recipe book, it says to use the plastic wrap, but I don't think those plastic wraps are PVC safe or meant to be cooked in high heat like 'steaming'.  So, if you are using the plastic to cook -- just because your mother has been using it and others... please make sure it is food grade and health safe.
Then, placed in a larger size stainless steel  steamer to accommodate the plate size that the cake is placed on.    Steam cook until the cake is transluscent - about an hour.

And warning!! have at least 4 cups of HOT  water ready at 1 hour of steaming and check the boiling water level of the pot.   Replenish the pot with HOT boiling water!!

Voila!  the cake is SAVED!
 Use knife to slide around the edge to release the side of the cake from the steamer - Do this while the cake is still piping hot.   Let it cool for about 5 minutes.  Then, take it out to cool completely before eating. 

 Yeah, right.... cool completely - it will take another 2 hours before it cools off completely - can't wait.  While it is still warm, I sliced piece of this.  I know how the Jujube side taste because that's my favorite side.  I sliced the Taro root filled side of the cake.
Bomb!  I love it !!! It taste soooo goooey and delicious  !!   And, yes, I went and delivered them to my mother and families.

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