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: 8 inch square or round cakes
Author: Marv
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.
Print Recipe


Half the following recipe if you plan to use Instant Pot to steam the cake:

  • 5 large eggs about 50 grams each
  • 180 gr coconut sugar 6 oz, you can use brown sugar
  • 110 gr cooking oil 4 oz
  • 130 gr Milk 4.5 oz you can use skim or low fat milk

Dry ingredients:

If using regular steamer- use one of these (see notes):

If using 6 quart Instant Pot- use one of these (will yield taller cake):


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 2 hours at room temperature
  • 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 tent it with an aluminum foil to prevent condensation from dripping on the cake surface. 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


The larger the diameter of the pan or basket you use, the shorter the cake will be. A taller cake will take a bit longer to cook. 6 quart Instant Pot can only fit in 7-inch round pan/basket and I recommend to half the recipe so the cake will steam properly