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Pumpkin Song Gao Sponge Rice Cake

Inspired by Traditional Chinese Red Bean Sponge Rice Cake

by Shirley
Published: Updated:
Pumpkin Song Gao {Sponge Rice Cake} Recipe

Pumpkin Song Gao {松糕}, or Sponge Rice Cake featuring homemade pumpkin puree, sweet rice flour, and rice flour is so yummy and satisfying. Naturally gluten-free and egg-free, this pumpkin sponge rice cake garnished with goji berries has the perfect chewiness and firm bite texture. It will be an excellent addition to your fall pumpkin/Halloween season food collection.

Pumpkin Spong Rice Cake Recipe

This Pumpkin Sponge Rice Cake is inspired by traditional Suzhou Style Sponge Rice Cake

Sponge Rice Cake featuring a blend of sweet rice flour and rice flour is a traditional dim sum in Suzhou, located in the heart of China’s Yangtze River Delta. This area is well-known for its naturally yummy Huai Yang Style food, ancient history, rich culture, and exquisite garden and waterway scenes, among other things.

Chinese Song Gao {traditional sponge rice cake}
Traditional Suzhou Sponge Rice Cake

Rice is a traditional staple food in this area. Clever ancient people have discovered a very unique physical property of rice four. When you fully saturate the rice flour with water to the extent that they just start to form small clumps. These loose small clumps will form a super soft sponge rice cake upon steaming.

Sesame Song Gao {Chinese Sponge Rice Cake}
Sponge Rice Cake with Sesame Filling

The soft chewiness vs. firm bite texture can be adjusted by tweaking the ratio between sweet rice, also known as sticky rice flour, and rice flour. More sweet rice flour means softer and chewier. Vice versa, the more rice flour the more firm bite texture you’ll get. I usually use about 60% sweet rice flour and 40% rice flour for a more refreshingly semi-chewy texture.

Red Bean Sponge Rice Cake Recipe {Suzhou Style}
Red Bean Sponge Rice Cake

How to make Pumpkin Sponge Rice Cake?

Tip No.1 is to make a pumpkin puree in advance

It is super easy to make pumpkin puree at home. I like to steam the pumpkin in a bamboo steamer. By the way, these 12-inch stacked bamboo steamers can sit nicely on top of a 14-inch cast iron wok. It is indeed my favorite steaming set.

steam pumkin in the bamboo steamer on top of a cast iron wok

Then use a food processor to blend it smoothly. Check it out here for a detailed guided recipe on how to make pumpkin puree easy and yummy.

homemade pumpkin puree recipe (easy yummy way)
Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Tip No.2 is to toss and fold the pumpkin puree with the sweet rice and rice flour mixture until they just start to form small lumps

I use 60% sweet rice flour and 40% rice flour for a perfectly chewy and firm bite balance. For sweet rice flour, I sometimes use an equal portion of water-milled sweet rice flour {Shui Mo Fen 水磨粉} and regular sweet rice flour {Nuo Mi Fen 糯米粉}.

When people submerge the sweet rice {sticky rice} underneath the water and then mill it into flour, the sweet rice flour becomes water-milled sweet rice flour. It is extra soft and smooth, which is the secret behind the well-known sweet rice flour dumplings and red bean mochi soup.

Red Bean Mochi Soup {红豆圆子汤}
Red Bean Mochi Soup {红豆圆子汤}

Add sweet rice flour, rice flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl, toss and mix well using a pair of bamboo spatulas. Then add a splash of avocado oil and pumpkin pure and toss and mix again until fully blended.

toss and mix well of sweet rice flour and rice flour with pumpkin puree

You will notice the flour blend is very saturated and have started forming small lumps.

Pros and Cons of using bamboo steamer layered with cheesecloth to steam Song Gao

The bamboo steamer has a huge cooking advantage. The bamboo lattice will allow ample steam to cook the Song Gao. With the bamboo steamer coupled with cheesecloth, the steam can come through both the top and bottom to cook the rice cake nicely.

The downside is it is tricky to separate the rice cake from the cheesecloth.

steam song gao {sponge rice cake} in a bamboo steamer

How to steam Song Gao {Sponge Rice Cake} using glassware?

If you use glassware instead, chances are you will only get the top half cooked at once. Not enough steam going through the bottom. You can, however, flip the rice cake and steam it again to cook the other half of the Nan Gua Song Gao {南瓜松糕}.

Grease the rectangle glass dish generously with coconut oil and then use a large relatively flat spoon to scoop out the saturated rice flour mixture and sprinkle loosely into the glass dish. Sprinkle one layer at a time and then build up. Do not pack the rice flour.

Once you reach the top, use a dough cutter to gently level it.

pumpkin rice flour mixture

Remember to steam the sponge rice cake twice to get it fully cooked.

Add 6 cups of water to a 14-inch cast iron wok, add a lid, and bring it to a boil. After that, add the glass dish to the wok, add the lid, and steam for 20 minutes. This rectangle glass dish can snug inside a 14-inch wok nicely without needing a steaming rack.

Let the pumpkin rice cake cool down to room temperature after the initial 20 minutes of steaming. After that, remove the rice cake from the glass dish and add it to another coconut oil greased same rectangle dish. Garnish the top generously with goji berries and steam for another 20 minutes.

steaming the pumpkin sponge rice cake

Enjoy a super yummy and healthy Pumpkin Sponge Rice Cake!

Pumpkin Song Gao {Sponge Rice Cake} Recipe

Pumpkin Song Gao {Sponge Rice Cake} Recipe

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Additional Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 46 minutes

Pumpkin Sponge Rice Cake featuring homemade pumpkin puree, sweet rice flour, and rice flour is so yummy and satisfying. Goji berry garnishing is optional but adds contrast color and extra nutrients.

Ingredients

  • 454 g pumpkin puree, about 1 lb
  • 460 g sweet rice flour, see notes on how to tweak the volume between sweet rice flour and rice flour to get the texture you prefer.
  • 300 g rice flour
  • 100 g cane sugar, organic unrefined preferred
  • 1/2 cup goji berries, optional, for garnishing

Instructions

  • Make pumpkin puree in advance if you use homemade pumpkin puree.
    homemade pumpkin puree recipe (easy yummy way)
  • Add 6 cups of water to a cast iron wok, close it with a lid and bring the water to a boil, about 10 minutes. While waiting for the water, prepare the pumpkin rice cake flour mixture.
  • Use a kitchen scale to measure out and add pumpkin puree, sweet rice flour, rice flour, sugar, and avocado oil one by one using the incremental "TARE" function. Toss and mix well using a pair of bamboo spatulas, the same way you toss a salad. Continue to toss and mix until everything is blended, and the rice flour starts to form small lumps.
    pumpkin, sweet rice and rice flour mixture
  • Place double-layer organic cheesecloth into the 12-inch bamboo steamer.
    layer bamboo steamer with double layered cheesecloth
  • Cut out a round unbleached parchment paper, and use a pair of scissors to cut out some areas and lay it inside of the cheesecloth. This step is optional but it makes it easier to separate the rice from the cheesecloth.
    Layer the perforated parchment paper inside the cheesecloth for the bamboo steamer
  • Use a large flat spoon to scoop out the saturated rice flour mixture and sprinkle it evenly into the bamboo steamer. Do one layer at a time and then build up. Do not compact or shake the rice flour mixture. They need to remain loose in order to have a fluffy rice cake. Once you reach the top, use a dough cutter to gently level it flat. Also, remember to cover the rice flour mixture with cheesecloth so that the water condensation doesn't drip directly over the rice flour.
    steam song gao {sponge rice cake} in a bamboo steamer
  • When the water reaches a boil, add the bamboo steamer to the wok, cover it with a lid, and steam for 30 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, carefully remove the bamboo steamer and add additional 2 cups of water to the wok and then place the bamboo steamer back on.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high again and steam for 15 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, wait for 2 minutes or so before you remove the wok lid, and then remove the bamboo steamer.
  • Enjoy a super tasty and healthy pumpkin sponge rice cake! Great for breakfast or a snack.
    Pumpkin Spong Rice Cake Recipe

Notes

A bamboo steamer plus cheesecloth is very important for making this unique dish. The bamboo steamer makes it possible to have ample steam circulating and penetrating the rice flour mix to cook them thoroughly.

You can adjust the ratio between sweet rice flour and rice flour, as long as the total weight is about 760 g. My default version is about 60% sweet rice flour and 40% of rice flour, which gives me a good balance of chewiness and firm bite texture. The more sweet rice flour you use, the softer and chewy the rice cake will become.

Pumpkin sponge rice cake is perfect for breakfast and is freezer friendly.

Nutrition Information
Yield 16 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 187Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 0mgSodium 10mgCarbohydrates 36gFiber 1gSugar 8gProtein 3g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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