Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pumpkin Huat Kueh/Fa Gao/Fatt Koh (金瓜发糕)

In a bid to clear off the pumpkins in my freezer (I regret not buying a bigger fridge earlier), I decided to make some pumpkin huat kueh today.

Huat kueh (otherwise also known as huat kuih, fatt koh, fa gao or 发糕 in chinese) actually means prosperity cake or leavened cake since the word "fa" (发) means either to prosper or to raise/leaven. It is a steamed cake often offered to the gods (and also to humans) during chinese new year as a symbol of prosperity. 

This is a really easy recipe but you need to have a certain amount of luck or divine intervention from the gods in order to get the steamed cakes to split on the top and break into a smile, so that prosperity and good luck will come your way. But it didn't happen today. :( I remember when I made the Sweet Potato Huat Kuehs exactly one year ago, I also didn't have much luck with the cakes splitting on top. Note that the key ingredients for the splitting of the cakes are actually yeast and double action baking powder. 

Nevertheless, this is really a very good recipe, as the steamed huat kuehs taste really rich and delicious. What is more, I am almost done with clearing my frozen pumpkin, just one little piece left. Yippee!!!

Here is the recipe, courtesy of my cousin. I think she got it from one of Alex Goh's books.

Recipe for Pumpkin Huat Kueh/Fa Gao/Fatt Koh (金瓜发糕)

Dough Starter
50g sifted plain flour
50g water
1 tsp dry yeast

320g sifted plain flour
2 tsp double action baking powder
200g pumpkin, peeled, cut, steamed and mashed with fork
100ml coconut milk
50ml water
120g brown sugar/gula melaka (reduced from 140g)
1 egg


1. Dough Starter : Mix all starter ingredients in a bowl and set aside to proof for 30 min.

2. Batter

a) Sift the dry ingredients (plain flour and double action baking powder) in a bowl. 

b) Put mashed pumpkin, coconut milk, water, brown sugar, and eggs in mixer and mix well. 

c) Remove from mixer, fold in the dry ingredients (flour and B.P.) and dough starter using a spatula until well-blended. Do not over-mix else the huat kueh will become dense.

3. Line the aluminium cups with paper liners and pour batter into cups til 90% full and set aside for 15 min to proof. (I used porcelain teacups and I omitted the paper liners as they were not big enough. I greased my teacups and filled them till 80% full, around 4 tbsp batter per cup, and made 5 teacups of batter with this recipe. My teacup has a 8cm diameter on top, 4cm diameter at the bottom and a 7cm height. It is recommended to use a tall and wide teacup to increase the chances of splitting on top. If you really want the Fa Gao to split and smile without relying on luck, you can use a greased knife to make the sign of a cross on top of the batter. I tried it this time round but it didn't work for me!)

4. Meanwhile, prepare a steamer and let the water come to boil over high heat. When the steamer is ready, put the cups into the steamer and steam over high heat for 15 min. (Note that the steamer must be really hot in order for the huat kueh to split and smile on top. If you use bigger cups like me, you have to steam longer, for eg. 25-30 min instead of 15 min. Do not peep before the time is up and do not put any cup right in the centre of the steamer where the steaming hole is the biggest. That is also the place where usually water will drip down when you open the steamer.)

Note: If you are interested in making huat kuehs, I have another recipe for Sweet Potato Huat Kuehs that you can refer to.

This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting

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


  1. Looks very tempting indeed. Can the dough be baked like muffins/cup cakes?

  2. Hi Shanz

    U can put it in a muffin cup in a steamer, but huat kuehs are supposed to be steamed, not to be baked. The texture would be very different and probably not as fluffy if you bake it, I have never tried baking it and wouldn't recommend it either. :)


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