Sweet Potato Fortune Cup Cake (fan shu fa gao)

Submitted by Yeeli

A common dessert for the offering altar 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. The normal Fa Gao is made with just flour, rice flour and sugar, but this one is made with sweet potato and is richer in flavour and fibre.

Ingredients A:

  • 50 g plain four, sieved
  • 50 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon dry yeast

Ingredients B:

  • 200 g sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 150 ml neat coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder


  1. Mix all ingredients in A and place aside for about 30 minutes.
  2. Dice the sweet potato in small chunks and steam or boil it till it is all cooked. Mash it into paste.
  3. Sieve the flour and baking powder together.
  4. Mix egg, brown sugar and coconut milk in a mixing bowl, till the brown sugar is fully dissolved.
  5. Slowly add ingredient A, the flour and the sweet potato mash into the egg mixture, mix well.
  6. Leave the soft dough aside, covered, for another 3-4 hours till the dough has expanded to almost 4 times its original size.
  7. Divide the dough into paper cups, place them in a steamer, and steam over high heat for about 15 minutes.
  8. Serve hot or cold with tea or coffee.

Versatility Note:

  1. Place the paper cups into a muffin tray to make handling easier, so that the dough will be cooked securely in the desired shape.
  2. 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.
  3. Sweet potato is naturally sweet therefore the amount of sugar used in this recipe is relatively low, but you can adjust the sugar amount according to your own desired taste.