While traditional Nian Gao is steamed and does not contain butter, eggs or other ingredients normally found in a cake batter, this is a baked version that is good if you don’t like standing over the stove worrying about the steamer boiling dry, if you don’t want to pan fry lots of pieces, or if you want to share with non-Asians who might be used to a more cake-like cake. It is a sweet, cake-like Nian Gao that has a slightly sticky texture or bite to it.
- 16 ounces Mochiko sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour), plus a bit extra for sprinkling on the baking dish
- 1 stick of butter or 3/4 cup of vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1 to 1 3/4 cup sugar (depending how sweet you like it)
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- One can of red azuki beans
- Mix everything but the beans with an electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes. Beat for 2 more minutes at high speed.
- Sprinkle Mochiko flour over a 9"x13" baking dish that has been oiled or sprayed with Pam.
- Spread half of the batter on the bottom of the baking pan. Spread the red adzuki beans (you can mix some batter into the beans if they are too thick to spread).
- Spread the other half of the batter over the red azuki beans. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes.
- Test for doneness by inserting a chopstick (this is Chinese New Year’s Cake after all!). If it comes out clean, it is done.
Tips for Making Nian Gao
Working with glutinous rice flour for the first time can be a bit challenging, since it doesn't behave exactly the same as other flours. The batter is meant to be quite liquid -- a milkshake-like consistency is accurate. The glutinous rice flour will absorb the water during baking. When adding the adzuki beans, they will sink a bit into the batter, which is fine. While Nian Gao is normally steamed, a baked cake will give you the taste of traditional Nian Gao, if not the same texture.