Chinese Fortune Cup Cake (fa gao)

Submitted by Yeeli

A common dessert for the offering in Chinese New Year festival as well as other Chinese festivals, Fa Gao means "cake that has expanded". Fa means expand whilst gao is the word for "cake" in Mandarin. Fa also means prospering or becoming rich, in another context; therefore the Chinese cup cake is highly popular and is seen as a fortune cake. You can also make a sweet potato Fa gao.


  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder


  1. Bring the water in the steamer to a boil.
  2. Sieve the flour and baking powder together.
  3. Add the sugar into the water and boil it till the sugar is all dissolved, stir constantly. Put the syrup aside to cool down.
  4. Mix the syrup with the rice flour, stir and mix well. Add in the flour and baking powder mixture, stir and mix well.
  5. Pour the mixture into moulds and place into the steamer to steam on high heat for 25 minutes.

Versatility Note:

  1. The water in the steamer has to be boiling before the cup cakes are placed inside, and it has to be on high otherwise the cakes will not cook properly.
  2. Do not open the cover of the steamer before it is done or it will affect the shape of the cake.
  3. The colour of the cake would turn out golden brown if brown sugar is used. You can replace it with molasses if you prefer a darker reddish brown colour.