Friday, May 7, 2010

Mama's Ma Lai Goh (Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake)

I have many fond memories of my Mama (grandmother in Chinese) and whenever I think of her it's always food that pops into my head. She would always have something that she baked, steamed or fried in her kitchen for all of us grandkids. Sweets no way but only delicious homemade treats were her thing. 

She never wrote down how she made them. All her secrets are kept to memory and with her magical touch she would be in the kitchen whipping up batches of her goodies ready to eat at her house or packaged to take home. 

Whenever I got the chance I would sit down and just watch her do her thing. Every measurement was by sight and I would ask her "how much?". She would always say "just watch me" and I did. Countless times I would watch and write down all the ingredients and how she made them. She would sometimes call me up just to come over on a certain day to watch her make something. I guess passing down the her recipes down a generation but I think she just liked spending time together this way.

There are many of those treats I call my favourites but one clearly stands out and that's her Ma Lai Goh or Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake. It's a traditional Cantonese steamed sponge cake, light and fluffy, not too sweet,  caramel flavoured with just a hint of lemon. 

Mama's Ma Lai Goh (Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake)

250 g brown sugar
250 g self-raising flour
3 eggs
200 ml of carnation milk or evaporated milk
80 ml of vegetable oil
juice of a lemon

1. Using an electric mixer, cream the oil and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and combine well. 
2. Fold in the sifted flour and alternate with the carnation milk.
3. Add the juice of a lemon and combine well. 
4. Prepare a greased round 23cm baking tin and pour the mixture into the tin. 
5. Steam the cake over high steam for about 25 - 30 mins or use a skewer to check if it is baked through. Remove from heat and let it stand for about 5 mins. Transfer to a rack and let it cool another 10 mins and then cut the cake diagonally into triangular shapes. Place the cake into a container for storage so that it doesn't dry up.


  1. awesome recipe thanks for passing on and god bless grandma's wonderful thank you cant wait to try lovesponge cake!

  2. Oh, I can imagine just how wonderful this tastes! I love the Filipino version of steamed bread, called Puto, and I imagine this is similar. Sounds wonderful!

  3. Every time I go back to Sydney I'll go back to my grandparent's place and enjoy all their home cooking. Mama has rediscovered the oven lately and she's been baking all sorts of pau and breads.

  4. Happy FYBF! This looks so yummy! My Great-Grannie used to make us Bannick when we came to visit, she didn't use a recipe either, just adding this and that to the bowl. It came out perfect everytime!

  5. That the best kind of recipe ...from the heart and that's what grandmother's do best!

  6. Oh my! I think I haven't had this since I was a kid! It's a simple cake but I used to look forward so much to a slice of this when I was little - mum didn't like giving me sugary things but this was on her OK list LOL

  7. I think our mums went to the same "Mummy School"! I wasn't allowed to have sweets when I was young and didn't get to eat chocolate till I was at least 5. I have the same sweet ban on my chocolate or lollies until they are at least 3yrs or older if I can help it.

  8. Ooh, this brings back lots of fond memories! Christmases at your grandparents was always the coolest!! Hope you are going to post up the jin dery recipe (with nothing inside) Those were my favourite x



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