Chinese Pumpkin Cake

Chinese Pumpkin Cake
If this picture looks familiar to you, it's because it's from my one of my trips to China. During a trip to Xiamen, we stopped in a teahouse for tea and some pumpkin cakes or 南瓜饼 (nangua bing). Just a few days ago, I had tried my first fried pumpkin cake at the hotel breakfast buffet. It had been sitting on the hotplate for a bit and was no longer crispy, but since I'd never had them before, I didn't complain. It tasted like a fried mochi, orange in color, slightly sticky, chewy and filled with red bean paste in the middle. mmmm.....

Well, that plate of cakes in Xiamen a year and a half ago was the last time I had Chinese pumpkin cakes. I've been craving them enough lately to attempt to make them myself. It took me a while to find a good simple recipe. Most recipes use wheat starch, which can be found at many asian grocery shops, but apparently not the local Chinese supermarket I patronize. Not to fear, I used regular wheat flour in place of wheat starch, and the little cakes still turned out pretty awesome to me.

150g  pumpkin, steamed until soft (I used Japanese kobacha squash)
150g  glutinous rice flour
50g   wheat flour or wheat starch
30-60g   sugar  (I used less sugar because the bean paste is already very sweet)
1 can of sweetened red bean paste

Easy. Mix the pumpkin, flours, and sugar to make a dough. The texture should be like play-dough. Add a little water if it's too dry. Roll the dough into little balls. Mine were maybe about 3cm, definitely smaller than a ping pong ball. Flatten them, spoon a small amount of bean paste into the center. Then pull the edges of the dough together to wrap the bean paste in the center. Now they are ready for cooking! Some recipes say to steam the cakes, but I prefer them fried, so I tossed them straight into the frying pan with a good layer of oil. No steaming required. Fry a few minutes on each side until they are crispy and browned. Done!
Easy peasy. They're delicious, much better than the ice cream mochis I tried to make the other day. I didn't bother photographing those because it was such a sticky mess of rice flour dough, corn starch and melting ice cream.

Before and after frying. Oh yummy! I fried a few to eat immediately, and I stored the rest in the fridge to be fried when I want some more later. Love the colour of the dough. I used half of a japanese kabocha pumpkin, steamed, mashed and mixed into the dough.

I think it's worth the time savings to use bean paste from a can, though I do find it much too sweet. To compensate, I halved the sugar in the pumpkin dough. perfect!


Katie said...

These look pretty darn good--I'll have to forward the recipe to my sister! On a practical note, I'd probably freeze the uncooked ones--they'll fry up just as good, but might take just a bit longer, and they'll last longer!!

Meg said...

I just returned from spending a month in Dongshan island - about 3 hours from Xiamen. I am in love with nangua bing! The recipe link in your post doesn't work anymore...can you repost the recipe? Or email me the instructions? Thanks!

mittens said...

I've finally updated the pumpkin cake recipe. Hope it helps. Sorry for the delay!