Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ma Lai Gao = Malay Steamed Cake / 马来糕???

I thought of steaming a cake this afternoon, I have a whole stack of at least 20 cake recipes sitting in my laptop which I have bookmarked for trying. This is one of them. The result is very good, it is soft, fluffy and spongy, a little bit crumbly, just like how a steamed cake would taste like. Anybody who is well-acquainted with chinese steamed sponge cakes would know what I mean. :)

Btw, I am really puzzled about the origins of this cake. Though I have eaten this many times in Singapore, but just like many of the traditional cakes or kuehs that I have eaten throughout my life, I just don't know their exact names and their origins. Is this supposed to be Ma Lai Gao (as in malay cake), or is it supposed to be a chinese steamed sponge cake? Some people call it Ma Lai Koh or Ma Lai Go, whatever it is. I am curious if there is an actual malay name for this cake. And how does this compare to Ji Dan Gao/Kueh Neng Koh (chinese steamed egg cake)? Hmm, guess that will be my next baking assignment. :)

I baked, oops sorry, I mean I steamed this cake in a deep pyrex glass bowl although it was originally intended for my 8-inch springform pan, but as I had underestimated the amount of batter (it was practically overflowing after I beat it with my handheld Philips Mixer for 8 minutes), I had to let it remain in the pyrex bowl which I used for the batter. Since the batter was already inside, naturally I couldn't grease the pyrex bowl. Luckily I had no difficulty whatsoever in unmoulding the cake, thank goodness! It must be due to the corn oil inside the cake that made it come out of the bowl so easily.

Here is the recipe I adapted from My Kitchen Snippets, she has some very good recipes in her blog.

Ingredients A
200g sugar (I reduced it to 185g but I think 200g is just alright in sweetness)
5 eggs

Ingredients B
100 ml corn oil/vegetable oil
130 ml milk

Ingredients C(sifted)
280g flour - I used cake flour instead of plain flour
4 tbsp custard powder - I used LION brand
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1. Whisk ingredients A until light and creamy, this means beating the eggs and sugar with a electric mixer for about 7-8 minutes at high speed, until the ribbon stage is achieved, i.e. the mixture should form a slowly disappearing ribbon on the surface when some of it is lifted with a utensil and is allowed to fall back into the bowl. (I was using a Philips electrical handheld mixer and it took me about 8 min to achieve the ribbon stage, in fact I had to rest my mixer for a while after 4 min to prevent it from becoming overheated. )

2. Using a spatula, fold in ingredients B and then ingredients C until well combined. (You really have to fold it lightly, quickly and yet thoroughly, in order not to overmix and deflate the bubbles formed in the batter. I would advise to sift the flour a second time before adding, and add it to the batter in a few portions instead of adding it at one go.)

3. Pour the batter into a well greased baking pan and steam on HIGH heat for 30 min or until skewer comes out clean when tested. (Make sure your steamer is already steaming hot by the time the batter is ready for steaming. As the volume of batter was more than what my 8-inch springform pan could contain, I used an ungreased 8-inch glass pyrex dish that is 3.5 inches in height).

4. Allow it to cool a little before cutting. This cake is best eaten warm when straight out from the oven. 

Can you see the height of the pyrex dish and how high my cake rose?

I am submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011), hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker.


  1. Wow, great looking sponge cake! I love the orchid on top too! :) Beautiful!

  2. I like the idea of steaming it in the pyrex. It gives the tall height.

  3. Ma Lai Go/Ma Lai Gao is exactly the same thing as Ji Dan Gao, but saying Ji Dan Gao could mean many others cakes that uses eggs in its recipe. So Ma Lai Gao/Go is a unique name someone who either invented the recipe or made it famous to be named after that person or what ever they want it to be called. I'm not sure on the history of the name but. I do know why they call it something else instead of Ji Dan Gao, as Dan Gao means cake and when you say "oh have you tried Ma Lai Gao from this restruant?" they would know instantly what you're on about. But when you say "Have you tried Ji Dan Gao from this restruant?" they'll be like either "um...which one?" or "Nope, never heard of it"

  4. it is called apam in Malay

  5. What is cake flour? Any suggestion on the brand?

  6. Cake flour has a lower level of gluten of all wheat flours, so it gives a finer texture than plain flour/all purpose flour. It's ideal when making sponge cakes; whereas plain flour/all purpose flour has a level of gluten which is somewhere between cake flour (lowest) and bread flour (highest).

    If you don't have cake flour, you can use the same amount of plain flour, just subtract 2 tbsp.

    If you are in Singapore, I would suggest you buy the Prima brand.

  7. A correction to my comments above:
    If you don't have cake flour, you can use the same amount of plain flour, just subtract 2 tbsp AND add 2 tbsp cornstarch.

  8. a quick question: Do you rest the batter for 6 hours or even overnight (as some recipes suggested) or do you go straight to streaming? My first 3 attempts roose beautifully in the steamer and then collapsed while cooling. Thank very much.

  9. Think I didnt rest the batter, I just follow the recipe link given


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