Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hong Kong Steamed Sponge Cake

I collect recipe books. The more obscure, the better. This recipe is from a cookbook that I found for 50 cents at a local thrift shop (down here they call them op shops) a few years back.

Hong Kong's 'Chinese Flavours' is the title and it was published in 1975 in Hong Kong. No author, just an editor named Kenneth Mitchell. He had the help of several major Hong Kong restaurants and hotels along with the Hong Kong Tourist Association. Any recipe that had pictures was prepared by the restaurant or hotel that volunteered the recipe for inclusion.

To say that this is book contains authentic Hong Kong restaurant fare from the mid 1970's would be a serious understatement.

It's also old enough that many ingredients (like flour, corn starch, etc) are listed by weight. The only thing I did to this recipe was find out that 100 grams of flour is 3/4 cup, and that 75 grams of sugar is 1/2 cup. You are welcome.

This recipe also specifies for the cake to be served hot. And they ain't kidding! I left a bit of one out to cool to find out what it tastes like cold... Like chewing on a wet, cold, clammy, tasteless sponge. Don't ask me how I know what a sponge like that tastes like!

Hong Kong Steamed Sponge Cake

What you need:
2 eggs --I used free range, of course
75 gr (1/2 cup!) castor sugar --I used raw sugar
100 gr (3/4 cup!) flour --I used unbleached baker's flour
1/4 tsp baking powder --I used baking powder

Now who can argue with that for a simple ingredient list! And it was ohhhh so good.

What you do:
Separate the eggs and beat the whites till they just start to stiffen. Mix in the sugar and beat till sugar is dissolved. Add the egg yolks and beat them in too. No, you won't have stiff peaks anymore, but you aren't supposed to.

Add the flour and the baking powder and mix till you have a smooth batter.

At this point the recipe called for pouring the batter into a small, greased, cake tin and steaming for 20 mins or until done. I don't know about you, but none of my steamers are large enough to fit a cake pan in, that's for sure.

However, I found that a 4.33" diameter ramikin dish fits nicely into home-sized steamers!

I buttered up 2 of them, see?
readying ramikin

The batter was evenly divided betwixt the two ramikins. Each one filled up halfway, perfect!
ramikins loaded

I checked the steamer after 15 minutes, and them cakes had risen to over double the original size!
steaming cake
At this point the cake didn't "test" done (bamboo skewer test), but it did after another five minutes.

A wonderfully light, fluffy texture!
steamed cake finished

And it was sooooooo good when ate HOT! Mmmmmmmm, delicious.

As it cooled, the flavour and texture really changed into the cold, clammy, bland, sponge. So make sure you serve it (and eat it) piping hot, right out of the steamer!

Next time I make it I'll add a bit of vanilla and grated orange peel to the batter, and sprinkle ground cinnamon, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder over the top just before steaming. Should be tasty.