5 from 3 votes

Chinese Steamed Cake (Ma Lai Gao)

This Chinese Steamed Cake is my version of a classic dim sum dish. There are no unusual ingredients or techniques (except the steaming bit!), just great flavour and a lovely and moist muscovado perfumed cake.
Prep20 mins
Cook30 mins
Resting2 hrs
Servings (Adjustable): 8


  • 80 g Salted Butter
  • 4 Eggs
  • 130 g Light Brown Sugar
  • 100 ml Milk
  • 0.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 100 g Plain Flour (All Purpose)
  • 30 g Custard Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda



  • Melt 80g Salted Butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Otherwise use a small pan on the hob. Transfer the melted butter to a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • Add 4 Eggs and 130g Muscovado Sugar to a mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl.
  • Whisk for 7 to 8 minutes until the eggs have tripled in volume and the mix is light and fluffy.
  • Add the melted butter, 100ml Milk and 0.5 tsp Vanilla Extract to the egg mix and whisk for a further minute.
  • Sieve 100g Plain Flour, 30g Custard Powder, 1 tsp Baking Powder and 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda straight into the batter.
  • Mix the dry ingredients in until just combined. Use a spatula or the mixer on very low.
  • Cover the batter and leave to sit for 2 hours. (You can leave it for up to 24 hours.
  • Prepare your steamer set up. Line your tin or steamer basket and bring the water to a gentle boil.
  • Give the batter a quick stir to combine any bubbles on the surface.
  • Pour the batter into the lined basket or tin.
  • Put the basket or tin into the steamer and leave for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the water level and top up as needed.
  • Check that the cake is cooked all the way though by poking a skewer into the centre. You want the whole of the batter to be cooked – no gooey middle here.
  • Leave to cool on a rack until it has cooled enough to handle. Serve the cake warm.


Important! If you have adjusted the serving size of this recipe, the cooking time will vary. A larger cake will take longer to cook and a smaller one will take less. If increasing the recipe you might want to consider making multiple smaller cakes rather than one larger one.