Chinese New Year Cake ~ Nian Gao

Nian Gao


600g glutinous rice flour

600ml water

400g dark muscovado sugar

50g golden caster sugar

Zest of one orange


  1. Prepare a 7 x 3 inch cake tin and line with a round cake case or parchment paper.
  2. Place both sugar and water into a saucepan, gently bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has melted. Set aside and allow to cool.
  3. Place the rice flour into a large mixing bowl and gradually stir in the cooled sugar mixture until combined to form a cake batter. To ensure a smooth consistency, strain the mixture through a sieve straight into the lined cake tin, then add the orange zest.
  4. Cover the cake tin with aluminium foil, place into steamer and cover with lid. Bring to boil and keep on high boil for 30 minutes then gently simmer for 2.5 to 3 hours. Ensure that the water is topped up regularly and do not allow steamer to run dry.
  5. The nian gao may still appear soft at the end of 3 to 3.5 hour total cooking time which is normal. Can test ready by placing a toothpick into centre; it should come out clean.
  6. Allow to cool completely then cover with cling film and leave to set for 24 hours at room temperature before eating. If not eating straight away place in refrigerator until ready to use. It can keep for approximately one week in the refrigerator or a month in the freezer. 
  7. There are various ways to eat Nian Gao depending on which part of China. In the north it is popular to slice then steam for 8-10 minutes (can be warmed in microwave 10-20 seconds) or shallow fried. In the south it is popular to slice then dip into beaten egg and shallow fry.
    It is rare but can be eaten cold (the sugar makes it rather hard) and is best eaten warmed up. Enjoy this sweet gooey treat and may your year ahead be healthier, wealthier and happier. 

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