Steamed Ma Lai Sponge Cake (Ma Lai Gao)

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Ma Lai Gao (Steamed Ma Lai Sponge Cake) originated in Malaysia and was inspired by British cakes. Later, it was adapted by Cantonese chefs and become what we see in dim sum today. Traditionally, Ma Lai Gao needs about 24 hours to prepare the starter dough (levain). Today, let me show you a quick and easy way to make Ma Lai Gao without sacrificing its taste or texture.

Steamed Ma Lai Sponge Cake Recipe

Serving: 1 (8-inch) round cake
Prep time: 15 minutes
Rest time: 1 hour
Cook time: 30 minutes

2 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk (252 g)
2 tablespoons avocado oil, or replace with other cooking oil
1 cup dark brown sugar (220 g)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (217.5 g)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Steamed Ma Lai Sponge Cake Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat 2 eggs. Pour in the evaporated milk, and avocado oil (or replace it with other cooking oil). Whisk. Add the dark brown sugar and mix until dissolved. Sift in the all-purpose flour and salt. Mix until well combined. Add the instant yeast and mix well. Cover it up.
  2. To speed up the fermentation and resting time, preheat an oven to the lowest temperature setting for 1 minute, and then turn it off. Place a pot of boiling water on the bottom rack. Also, put the batter on the middle rack. Close the oven door. (The temperature inside the oven is about 95 degrees F or 35 degrees C. You could skip this part if you lived in a hot and humid place.)
  3. Ferment the batter until bubbles are shown on the surface, for 1 hour. Sift baking powder and baking soda into the batter. Whisk.
  4. In an 8-inch bamboo steamer (or any heatproof container), place parchment paper over it. Trim off the extra edges. Then pour the batter into the parchment-lined bamboo steamer.
  5. Cover the steamer’s lid with a clean kitchen towel to prevent water droplets. (It won’t create uneven surfaces on the Ma Lai Gao.)
  6. In a large pot of water over high heat, bring it to a boil. Over medium-high heat, place the steamer on top, and cover the lid. Steam for about 30 minutes, or until they are completely cooked through, depending on the size of your containers, and the toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. Turn off the heat, remove the Ma Lai Gao from the steamer, and wait until slightly cool. Cut into small pieces and serve!

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8 thoughts on “Steamed Ma Lai Sponge Cake (Ma Lai Gao)”

  1. Big thanks Ci Ci. I just made this cake using your recipe. Mine did not turn out as beautiful as yours as I did not have an 8″ round tray. But it was easy and yummy with a Q texture. Sweetness was just right too. Will be making many more of this. Thanks again

    1. Hi Jesong,

      Thank you for stopping by my website! I’m so glad that you enjoyed this this recipe. I hope to see you around, and happy cooking! 🙂

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