This cake is inspired by ma lai go, a popular steamed sponge cake often seen pushed around on dim sum carts. It’s soft, airy, and easy to make with your own 8-inch bamboo steamer at home. It’s subtly sweet, bolstered by custard powder and coconut milk, and can be eaten plain, just as it normally is at Cantonese restaurants. But if you insist on a topping, almond whipped cream isn’t a bad idea either.
- Line an 8-inch wooden steamer with parchment paper, ensuring that the entire bottom and inner sides are covered.
- Combine the eggs, dark brown sugar, and vegetable oil in a stand mixer. Beat on high for 5-6 minutes-you want to incorporate a lot of air into the batter.
- Add the vanilla extract and coconut milk. Beat for another minute on high-until well combined and frothy.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour, salt, custard powder, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Remove the wet ingredients from the stand mixer. With a spatula or whisk, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir until fully incorporated.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared parchment-lined steamer, and make sure the lid is tightly placed on top.
- Prepare the steaming apparatus. Place a steamer rack in a large stockpot and fill with a few inches of water-not exceeding the height of the steamer rack-over medium heat.
- Once the water is gently boiling and steam begins to form, place the wooden steamer inside. Ensure the wooden steamer lid is still tightly covered, then cover with the stockpot lid. Steam for 30 minutes.
- Check doneness with a toothpick. The cake should be springy to the touch.
- Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing the steamer from the stockpot.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- If serving with almond whipped cream, combine the heavy cream, almond extract, and sugar in a bowl. Whisk with an electric beater until soft peaks form. Adjust sweetness and almond flavor to your liking.
Tatiana Bautista is an assistant editor at TASTE.