重陽糕 Double Ninth Cake
Today is Double Ninth Festival (or Double Yang Festival, a very ancient Chinese holiday dated back in AD25) based on lunar calendar. Just like the French eat galette des rois at Épiphanie, Chinese people eat Double Ninth Cake, drink liquor made from chrsanthemum flower, head to the mountains to pass the day as tradition. But no worries if you don’t have time to make a mountain trip, eating the cake counts, too.
What’s so special about the Double Ninth Cake is its fluffy, snow-like texture that requires a gentle hand to create. Add the right portion of water to rice flour and sticky rice (glutinous rice) flours, carefully mix the moisturized content with your fingers in light actions, making sure there is no any small lumps or dried flours left inside. Then sift the flour mixture gently in order to blend in more air. This step is very important to create the cake’s light texture. Sifting the flour mixture can take some time, but the best reward is when you have your first bite on the freshly steamed cake! When all the flour content is sifted, start with putting a layer of the powder snow-like wet flour in a cake mould. Do not press firm the flour to allow hot steam passing through when the cake is being steamed. Add in sweet azuki bean paste that formed into a doughnut shape, sprinkle some cooked azuki beans here and there on the layer, then sprinkle the rest of the wet flour. Steam with low heat for 15 minutes. The cake should be very fluffy and moist, almost like a soufflé, but sticky rice flour also creates a bit soft yet chewy mouthfeel. With sweet azuki bean paste and azuki beans filling, a bite of the cake is heavenly when you eat it freshly out of steamer!