Easy Soft Fluffy Ma Lai Gao (Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake)

Easy Soft Fluffy Ma Lai Gao (Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake)

Course: Cakes, Dim Sum
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Rest the batter: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 7 inch square or round cakes
Author: Marvellina
Make a soft fluffy ma lai gao Chinese steamed sponge cake with this easy and fool-proof recipe. This popular dim sum cake is easier to make than you think.
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  • 5 extra large eggs
  • 180 gr coconut sugar 6 oz, you can use brown sugar
  • 110 gr cooking oil 4 oz
  • 130 gr whole milk 4.5 oz or you can use skim or low fat milk

Dry ingredients:

If using regular steamer- use one of these:

If using Instant Pot- use one of these:


Prepare the batter:

  • Mix the dry ingredients with a whisk and set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until they are pale and fluffy with a mixer on high speed for 5 minutes. Add in sugar, oil and milk and continue to whisk until smooth. Turn off the mixer
  • Use a rubber spatula to fold in 1/3 of the flour mixture and then combine and follow by another 1/3 until you run out of flour. Do not overwork the flour. Just stir until combined. Cover and let the batter rest for at least 2 hours or overnight if you have the time. The longer you let it rest, the more airy and fluffy the cake will be
  • Line the pan with parchment paper. You can use 7-inch square or round cake pan
  • If you use Instant pot, you will need about 6-inch diameter round pan

Steaming the cake on the stove:

  • Prepare your steamer by bringing the water to a boil. Pour the batter into the pan and let the cake steam for about 30 minutes if you are using bamboo steamer, and 35 minutes if you are using metal cake pan. If you choose to use smaller size, such as muffin cups, steam for about 10-15 minutes
  • Remove from the steamer. Let them cool down a little bit and can be served warm or room temperature

Steaming in instant pot:

  • Pour 1 cup of water inside the inner pot of instant pot. Press saute mode and bring water to a boil
  • Set the trivet in there. Pour the batter into the pan and loosely cover with an aluminum foil . Close the lid and turn the valve to "sealing". Press "pressure cooker" and let it cooks on high pressure for 20 minutes
  • Wait 5 minutes and then release pressure immediately. Carefully remove the cake and let it cool down a little bit before serving


If you don't have round/square pan or bamboo steamer with at least 3-inch depth, I suggest to half the recipe or you can use two pans or bamboo steamers with at least 1 1/2-inch depth (which is the height of a typical bamboo steamer) and you will get two ma lai gao cakes