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Thursday, August 19, 2010
The good old steamed cake (Huat Kueh/ Fatt Ko) is gaining some serious popularity in Japan and Taiwan. The Taiwanese are crazy over the savoury version, where the cakes are steamed with pork floss, minced meat sauce and fried shallots, to name a few. The Japanese like their cakes/bread steamed with sweet potato, pumpkin, mochi, red bean etc. I picked up the popularity vibe while prowling the various cookbook sections of bookshops in Tokyo and Taipei. It is generally a good barometer to measure what is gaining following in the market. This is especially true in Japan where meticulous attention is given to specific genres of pastry/ cakes. Nowhere else in the world will you find over 10 different publications featuring only chiffon cake recipes or swiss roll recipes or donuts ... So, when you see books featuring only Fatt Ko recipes, you know the fad has landed.
I bought my first Fatt Ko recipe book early this year and tasted my first Japanese Fatt Ko in Singapore 3 weeks ago. For those who are interested, check out Mushiya at the swanky but confusing new shopping center, Ion Orchard. I was intrigued by the combination of mochi (steamed rice cake) with red bean topping on the Fatt Ko. The delightfully soft bread when eaten with pieces of chewy mochi was quite a novel and pleasant experience.... and thence my motivation to make steamed bread took off.
I knew that I had to get the basic steamed bread right - the fancy flavour and topping variations can be built in later. Having made traditional Huat Kuey before, I knew I have to pay attention to the different ingredients that are called out for in the recipe. The tradtional Huat Kuey, I feel is more symbolic than tasty. The steamed bread recipes had specified the use of a baking powder that is specially meant for steamed pastries. Apparently this kind of baking powder will result in a plump and soft steamed bread. I managed to find this recently at my favourite supermarket in Hong Kong, City Super.
Though the original recipe had called out for plain flour, I chose to use Japanese rice flour instead. The Japanese rice flour has been known to impart a more bouncy texture to cakes. Over the last few years in Japan, it has become a popular flour for chiffon and sponge rolls.
Extremely simple to whip up and the results are extremely good ! The soft, bouncy texture of the bread was exactly what I had been trying to achieve. When eaten warm, the tenderness of the bread evokes a sense of bliss and happiness.... : ) Encouraged, I believe I will start to build in the fancy toppings next.
100 ml Milk
3 tbsp Condensed milk
Rice flour 75g (or plain flour)
Corn Starch 45g
Baking powder 1tsp ( baking powder for steaming)
Strawberry Jam 5 tbsp
1. Boil water in a pot. Line pudding molds with cup cake liners.
2. In a bowl, mix Milk, condensed milk and sugar with a hand whisk until sugar is dissolved.
3. Add dry ingredients into (1) - continue to mix until a smooth paste is obtained.
4. Spoon (3) into each cup cake liner. Fill each liner to 3/4 full.
5. Add a tbsp of strawberry jam into (4). Using a skewer, gently fold batter in each cup to cover the jam.
6. Steam over boiling water for 15 mins.
7. Cool down to warm to touch. Spoon a tsp of strawberry jam over the cake and serve with tea.