Learn how to make Chinese bai tang gao or pak thong koh using this simple method using yeast to give you soft and bouncy texture. It’s my childhood favorite steamed rice cake.
DON’T LET ITS PALE WHITE COLOR FOOLS YOU
I think if you ask most of the Asian kids that grew up with some Chinese food, they will know this bai tang gao cake
(白糖糕). Bai means white and tang gao means cake in Chinese or pak thong koh in Cantonese. Bai tang gao is also a dim sum classic. You will definitely see this if you go for a dim sum. The cake is characterized by its signature pale white color and its honeycomb texture inside the cake. It may seem like a boring cake judging from its appearance but most people like bai tang gao for its soft, bouncy texture and slightly sweet taste.
It was one of my favorite childhood steamed cakes and still is to this date. Even my mom felt all nostalgic when we experimented on this cake a few months ago when she visited me. I’ve mentioned before that my mom has absolutely no sweet tooth at all. She despises desserts or sweets of any kind (Wish I’m the same way LOL!), BUT, she likes bai tang gao. Which means…bai tang gao is a very lightly sweetened cake. Of course, you can always adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe, but most Chinese steamed cakes or Asian steamed cakes are never heavily sweetened anyway.
WHY YOU’LL LIKE THIS BAI TANG GAO RECIPE
1. NO FUSS
This is not a quick recipe you can make in the next 30 minutes because it does require some fermentation time, however you only need a handful of ingredients and passive waiting time
2. TASTE AND TEXTURE SPOT ON
I love the soft yet bouncy texture of this cake. The right amount of chewiness
HOW TO EASILY MAKE BAI TANG GAO FROM SCRATCH USING YEAST
1. PREPARE THE CAKE BATTER
Add rice flour with 100 ml of water and knead into a dough. Set aside.
Add the rest of the 125 ml of water, sugar, and yeast. Let it sit 10 minutes to let the yeast soften and dissolves.
So now you have these two things you will mix together
Pour this yeast mixture into the dough and mix everything. It will be a watery mixture.
Cover and let it ferment for at least 6 hours or as long as 8-10 hours, but no longer than that. You will see all the little bubbles of air after 6 hours.
2. STEAM THE CAKE
1. Bring the water in the steamer to a rolling boil. Wrap the lid of the steamed with a cloth to prevent condensation drips onto the surface of the cake and creates burn marks.
2. Lightly grease your cake pan with a bit of oil or in my case I lined with parchment paper, either way works
3. Place the pan inside your steamer and let it steam until the pan is hot to touch. Pour the cake batter in and steam for the next 30 minutes over high heat.
4. After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and wait for 10 minutes before opening the lid. Remove from the steamer and let it cool down before slicing the cake.
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER BAI TANG GAO
Leftover can be kept in an air-tight container in the fridge for a maximum of 1 week. The cake will turn hard after refrigeration and will be drier the longer you keep them. Simply reheat by using moist heat, such as by using a steamer and the cake will be soft again.
SOME USEFUL TIPS
1. TALLER CAKE
If you want a taller cake, simply use a smaller pan, such as 6 inches round or square pan, but you will need the pan to be about 2.5 – 3 inches in height.
2. SWEETER CAKE
You can definitely add more sugar if you like it sweeter
3. ADD FLAVOR OR COLOR
You can add additional flavor or color to the cake by using natural juice or powdered flavor such as pandan juice, matcha powder to give the cake a green color. Simply add them into the yeast mixture. It’s a bit unorthodox to have a colored bai tang gao, but it’s possible to add some color if you like
DID YOU MAKE THIS BAI TANG GAO / PAK THONG KOH RECIPE?
I love it when you guys snap a photo and tag to show me what you’ve made 🙂 Simply tag me @WhatToCookToday #WhatToCookToday on Instagram and I’ll be sure to stop by and take a peek for real!
The recipe is adapted from Cake in Steam Cookbook by Liu Feng Lan that my mom got me with slight modifications.
Please weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.
Prepare the cake batter:
- Get 2 large mixing bowl. Add rice flour with 100 ml of water and knead into a dough. Set aside. In another mixing bowl. Add the rest of the 125 ml of water, sugar, and yeast. Let it sit 10 minutes to let the yeast soften and dissolves
- Pour this yeast mixture into the dough and mix everything. It will be a watery mixture
- Cover and let it ferment for at least 6 hours or as long as 8-10 hours, but no longer than that. You will see lots of little bubbles of air after 6 hours.
Steam the cake:
- Bring the water in the steamer to a rolling boil. Wrap the lid of the steamed with a cloth to prevent condensation drips onto the surface of the cake and creates burn marks. Make sure the water will be enough for steaming over high heat for the next 30 minutes
- Lightly grease your cake pan with a bit of oil or use a parchment paper to line the cake pan. Place the pan inside your steamer and let it steam until the pan is hot to touch. Give the cake batter a gentle stir and then pour it into the cake pan and steam for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and wait for 10 minutes before opening the lid
- Remove from the steamed and let it cool down a little bit before attempting to cut