Cakes & Scones, Desserts, Dim Sum/ Yum Cha, Finger Food/ Snack, Malaysian/ Chinese Cuisine, Recipes

Ma Lai Gao Recipe

“Ma lai gao” (马来糕), is also known as Chinese steamed sponge cake or Malay steamed cake, is a dessert which is commonly available in the dim sum restaurant. Some dim sum restaurant even named it as steamed layered cake, as they steamed the cake layer by layer with a thin custard spread in between the layer.

“Ma lai gou” is a Chinese steamed sponge cake which is available in most dim sum restaurant

 

The origins of this cake is unknown. Some says that it originated from Malaysia, as the named “ma lai” (马来) is commonly known as the short form for Malaysia (马来西亚) by the HK people. On the other hand, some says that it was invented by the Chinese and because the brown colour of the cake resembles the skin colour of the Malay hence the word “ma lai” (which can also means the Malay) is used to name this cake.

Based on both the sayings, I am leaning more towards to the first saying that it is originated from Malaysia. Why do I say so? Firstly, there is usually a reason as to why the word “ma lai” (马来) is used in the first place. “Ma lai” (马来) could means two things in Chinese. It’s either referring to the country, Malaysia or the Malay ethnic. I have my doubt about the saying that the cake colour resembles the Malay skin colour. So far, in all the HK restaurant that I visited in Auckland, their “ma lai gao” are all in yellow colour instead of the brown as mentioned. That doesn’t really make sense, unless traditionally brown/ red sugar is used. Secondly, looking at the recipe, it reminds me of the Hokkien style “huat kuih” (发糕) which also uses yeast and the method of making are slightly similar to the recipe that uses yeast. It could be an adaptation from the Malaysian “huat kuih”. I might be wrong, but this is just based on my personal opinion. After all, there is no strong evidence to shows where does the cakes originated from, based on my personal research so far. Therefore, if you know or found any strong evidence of where does this cake comes from, please do let me know. I am interested to learn more.

Speaking of “ma lai gao”, it is also a cake that I had tried making and experiment it with many different recipes. Many times, the recipes had failed me big time. They are either too dense or too dry. Neither can they last longer than a day without being dry too. It is quite disappointing whenever I fail, but that never stops me from trying it again. In fact, the more I failed, the more I wanted to get it right. There’s a time, I kept experimenting it every week until it reaches the texture that I am looking for. I finally did it, and because that’s a recipe that doesn’t uses yeast, it’s not a foolproof recipe in my opinion. Using the  same recipe, some people may be successful and some may not.

“Ma lai gou” that was made without yeast

 

I remembered very clearly that a particular Dayre reader of mine, @eviee, did try out my previous “ma lai gao” recipe which I had posted earlier in Dayre that doesn’t uses yeast. She made it together her eldest daughter as both of them love eating “ma lai gao”. The making process makes them excited, and they can’t wait to dig in once it was out from the steamer. I am happy to know that both of them enjoyed it and sad at the same time knowing the cake was only 70% successful.

A Dayre reader’s recreated “ma lai gou” using my previous recipe without yeast


But today, I am happy to announce that I have a foolproof “ma lai gao” recipe that uses yeast. I says it’s foolproof because no special equipment or skills needed to make this recipe. The important component in this recipe is the yeast. Make sure the yeasts are not near or pass the expiry date before trying out this recipe. The yeasts help the cake to rise and provides a soft spongy texture. One need not have to worry that the cake will not rise and being dense. And most importantly, the cake remains soft and moist the next day too.

In this recipe, I choose to use dark brown sugar  (muscavado/ molasses) which gives a more in depth fragrance and flavour as compared to white sugar. However, do feel free to substitute it with caster sugar.

 

All photos, videos and recipes on CoasterKitchen are copyright protected. Please do not use the photos, videos and recipes without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own words (instead of copy and paste) and link back to my blog. Thank you very much!

 

INGREDIENTS
Makes a loaf pan

Starter Dough
100g cake flour
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
100ml water

2 large eggs
100g dark brown sugar
20g cake flour
20g custard powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
25g butter, melted

1. Mix all the starter dough ingredients in a bowl. Cover with cling wrap and set aside to rest for 1 hour or until double in size.

* If you do not have cake flour, you can substitute it with plain/ all purpose flour.

2. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs.

3. Add in brown sugar and whisk until incorporated.

4. Sift in cake flour and custard powder into the egg mixture. Then add in melted butter and mix it until well incorporated.

5. Pour the egg mixture into the starter dough. Mix it well.

6. Line the loaf pan with non stick parchment paper.

7. Pour the batter into the the loaf pan.

8. Place the loaf pan into a steamer.

9. Lightly cover the pan with a foil to prevent any water droplets into the cake.

* Do not cover it tightly as it will prevent the cake from rising well.

10. Cover, and steam the cake over high heat for about 40 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean.

11. Set the cake aside to cool in the loaf pan for above 10 minutes before removing it and cutting it into serving pieces.

Ma Lai Gao Recipe

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Credit: CoasterKitchen

All photos and recipes on CoasterKitchen are copyright protected. Please do not use the photos and recipes without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own words (instead of copy and paste) and link back to my blog. Thank you very much!

Ingredients

  • Starter Dough
  • 100g cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 100ml water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g dark brown sugar
  • 20g cake flour
  • 20g custard powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 25g butter, melted

Directions

  1. Mix all the starter dough ingredients in a bowl. Cover with cling wrap and set aside to rest for 1 hour or until double in size.
  2. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs.
  3. Add in brown sugar and whisk until incorporated.
  4. Sift in cake flour and custard powder into the egg mixture. Then add in melted butter and mix it until well incorporated.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the starter dough. Mix it well.
  6. Line the loaf pan with non stick parchment paper.
  7. Pour the batter into the the loaf pan.
  8. Place the loaf pan into a steamer.
  9. Lightly cover the pan with a foil to prevent any water droplets into the cake.
  10. Cover, and steam the cake over high heat for about 40 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean.
  11. Set the cake aside to cool in the loaf pan for above 10 minutes before removing it and cutting it into serving pieces.

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