How to make chinese New Year's cake
- Soak dried dates in cold water until soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from water and cut into halves, removing the pits. Set aside.
- Cut each slab of brown candy into two or three pieces and place in a glass or metal mixing bowl. Carefully add 2 cups boiling water and let candy dissolve and cool.
- Place glutinous rice flour in a large bowl. Make a hollow in the center of the flour and pour the cool dissolved sugar (brown candy) into this hollow. Stir flour and sugar together.
- When a dough begins to form, use your hands to knead it gently. If necessary, add cold water one tablespoon at a time until dough is smooth and shiny.
- Lightly grease an 8-inch cake pan with vegetable oil. Place dough in pan and mold it to fill the pan.
- Decorate the top of the cake with dates. Sprinkle sesame seeds over all, if desired.
- Place pan in the rack of a steamer(*), cover, and steam over high heat until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 35 to 50 minutes. While steaming, check the water level. Add more if necessary.
- Remove cake from steamer. Pour off any water that has collected on top of the cake. Set aside to cool. When completely cool, run a knife along the edge of the cake and turn it out of the pan. Wrap loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to eat. (Cake is best if eaten the day after cooking).
- To serve, cut cake into small slices (not wedges). Serve at room temperature, or warm up by resteaming pieces on a plate.
(*) If you don't have a steamer, improvise by using common kitchen items. Place two glass mugs or a large tin can upside down in the bottom of a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Fill with water up to about three-quarters of the height of the mugs or can. Carefully set a dinner plate on the mugs or can.The plate should not touch the inside of the pot. Place whatever is being steamed on the plate, place the lid on the pot, and bring water to a boil. As with a regular steamer, be sure to check the water level regularly and refill as necessary.
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Steaming time: 45 to 60 minutes
Makes one 8-inch cake