In Taiwan and parts of China sticky rice cakes are popular during the New Year celebrations. Since their name ” 年糕 ” (nian gao) literally “Year Cake” is a homonym for 年高 literally “higher year” or roughly translating to “having a prosperous year.” There is also the idea that offering the sticky cake to the Kitchen God prevents him from being able to go tell on you, since his mouth is all gummed up with chewy goodness. And while most associated with the New Year, the Year Cake is available, though not as ubiquitous, year round and it is far too good to be had only once a year anyway.
Beyond its cultural significance what is a Year Cake?
A “Year Cake” is a glutinous rice flour “cake.” By cake I do not mean t is a cake in the light, fluffy, airy, sweet, rich sense, but the dense, sticky, QQ, chewy, very slightly sweet sense. In short everything the Taiwanese would love.
There are many varieties of Year Cakes, which may or may not contain a number of goodies such as red beans. This one in particular is the 紅糖年糕 (hong tang nian gao) Brown Sugar Year Cake (red sugar literally) is probably the simplest. However simple, it is still excellent.
- 3/4 c. water
- 4 1/2 oz. sugar
- 2 oz. dark brown sugar
- 7 oz. glutinous rice flour
- In a saucepan over medium heat dissolve the 4 1/2 oz. of sugar and 2 oz. of brown sugar into the 3/4 c. of water. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Once cool whisk together the sugar syrup with the 7 oz. of glutinous rice flour until smooth.
- Line a 6 inch round mold with cellophane or baking parchment. Pour the batter into the mold.
- Put into a steamer and steam on high for 1 hour.
- Remove the cake from the steamer and let cool. Remove from mold and the cellophane, slice and serve.
- Store it wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge.
Just a note, sometimes the slices are served fried or battered and deep fried.