Malay Cake (Ma Lai Gou), A Dim Sum Classic

I love a good everyday cake, and this is the Asian equivalent of that. I love it with good lashings of salted butter while still warm from the steamer. Unlike Western cakes that are eaten at room temperature, this cake is really best eaten freshly steamed.

Malay Cake (Ma Lai Gou)

240g eggs

160g evaporated milk

10g pandan leaves

150g black sugar (you can use powdered jaggery or coconut sugar, but the darker the better)

1 teaspoon dry yeast

180g self-raising flour, sifted

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

50g butter, melted

8-9” pan with holes or steamer, lined

1. Blend eggs, evaporated milk, black sugar, and pandan leaves until homogenized and foamy.

2. Strain and discard pandan leaf pulp.

3. Whisk in yeast and flour.

4. Ferment covered, until the surface is populated like small bubbles (it will look like foam), about 2 hours.

5. When the batter is almost ready, prepare a wok of steaming water for steaming, and a lid wrapped in cloth (or use a bamboo steamer). Make sure that there is enough water in the steamer so that the wok does not dry up halfway through the steaming. Grease and line an 8 or 9” round cake pan with parchment.

6. Meanwhile, whisk together the salt, baking soda, melted butter and about ¼ cup batter in a small bowl.

7. Fold it into the rest of the batter.

8. Transfer to the pan and tap the pan firmly on the bench.

9. Steam high heat for 25-30min (don’t overcook!). Once a toothpick emerges clean and the cake springs back to the touch, it is ready.

10. Eat while hot. Refresh cake slices by steaming briefly if eating when the cake has cooled down.



Pamelia Chia is a Singaporean chef and the author of the bestselling cookbook ‘Wet Market to Table’. After graduating with an Honor’s degree in Food Science and Technology from the National University of Singapore in 2014, she decided to trade a food scientist’s lab coat in for chef whites. She has since been working in restaurants in Singapore and Melbourne, including Candlenut and Carlton Wine Room. Her deepest interest being the preservation and celebration of Singaporean food heritage and culture, she started Singapore Noodles in 2020 as a platform to share about Singaporean food to a global audience. Find her on Instagram @pameliachia.

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