The black sugar cake is a Penghu specialty. It has great flavors with that slight chewy texture which Taiwanese loves so much. This is one of the most popular souvenirs to take home when the tourists visit the island. The black sugar cake is fast and easy to make and it tastes the best when it is just fresh out of the steamer!
Taiwanese black sugar – 300 g (can be reduced to taste and found in Asian supermarket)
Hot water – 360 g
Tapioca powder – 150 g (see note 1)
Cake flour – 300 g
Baking powder – 12 g (1 tablespoon)
Peanut oil – 15 g (about 1 tablespoon) (see note 2)
Toasted white sesame – enough to be sprinkled on top of the cake
Square cake pan (10”x10”x2”) – 1
1) Dissolve the black sugar with hot water and let it cool down.
2) Add the tapioca powder to the cooled sugar water and mix thoroughly. Add sifted cake flour and baking powder to the mixture and whisk everything together. Lastly, add oil and make sure it is well incorporated into the cake batter.
3) Let the batter sit for 10 minutes then pour it into the cake pan lined with parchment paper. See note 3.
4) Fill the wok with water until half-filled. Heat the water until it boils, place the cake pan on top of a steaming rack in the wok, and steam with high heat for 20 – 30 minutes with the lid on. (The surface of the cake will be wrinkly when it is done.) See note 4.
5) Once steaming is finished, remove the lid immediately to prevent the water from dripping down to the top of the cake. While the cake is hot, sprinkle the toasted white sesame seeds on top. Let the cake cool, cut into appropriate portions, and serve.
While shopping for tapioca powder in the Asian supermarket, please read the label on the bag carefully. This is not sweet potato powder. Some Japanese version is actually made with potatoes. Potato powder is usable but the cake will not have that characteristic chewy texture. Some people may think the cake is too chewy with this recipe, add an additional 1 tablespoon to soften the texture. Corn starch should not be used since it doesn’t give the cake the right texture at all.
Oil can be skipped and replaced with equal amount of water. Other types of vegetable oil can replace peanut oil.
It is common to find lumps once the flour is incorporated into the sugar water. Let the cake batter sit for 10 minutes usually helps to resolve this issue. If the lumps are still present after sitting and stirring, pour the batter through a sifter to get rid of the lumps.
The cake actually comes out better if you steam the cake with steaming baskets because it will be cooked evenly. Pour the cake batter onto the steaming basket lined with steaming cloth or parchment paper. Insert several short pieces of straws into the cake batter to allow the steam to rise through the cake. The advantage of using the square cake pan is that it is easier to cut the cake into nice squares. But the problem is the bottom of the cake may not be steamed through and tastes powdery. It is OK to put it (even after it has been cut) back into the steamer to steam for a few more minutes until done.
Since there are no preservatives in this cake, it does not keep very well. You may refrigerate or freeze the cake to prolong its expiration date but don’t forget to re-steam before eating and also keep in mind that it won’t taste as good. It is recommended that the cake should be consumed within 24 hours.