1 cake tin (20 cm / 8 in) or other heatproof container of similar size
100gdried Chinese dates (aka jujube)
100gwalnuts (or peanuts)
450gglutinous rice flour
100gregular rice flour
180gdark brown sugar (or muscovado sugar, brown rock sugar)
45gcoconut oil (or neutral cooking oil)plus a little for coating
Prepare the dates and nuts
Soak Chinese dates and walnuts in water overnight. Chop the rehydrated dates (pits removed if any) and walnuts into small pieces by hand or using a food processor (remember to keep one whole date for garnishing later).
Transfer the chopped dates and walnuts to a large mixing bowl. Add glutinous rice flour and regular rice flour. Mix well.
Cook the syrup
Add dark brown sugar, ginger and water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil then leave to simmer (cover with a lid) over low heat for 3 minutes. Remove the ginger from the sugary water then add the oil. Whisk to fully incorporate.
Make the dough
Pour about 90% of the hot sugar liquid over the flour mixture. Mix and lightly knead. Add the remaining liquid gradually until a soft dough forms. Depending on the evaporation loss while simmering, you may not use all the liquid, or you might need to add a little extra water. Adjust accordingly.
Steamed the cake
Brush a thin layer of oil over the inner surface of a 20 cm (8 in) cake tin. Place a piece of baking paper at the bottom. Transfer the dough into the tin. Flatten the surface. Insert the remaining date in the middle of the cake.
Bring water to a full boil in the wok/pot which you use for steaming. Place the cake tin into the steaming basket or over a steaming rack. Cover with a lid and leave to cook over medium heat for 45 minutes (check the water level halfway through and top up if necessary).
Serve the cake
Let the cake cool naturally in the tin. Then gently take it out. You may slice it and eat it straight away. Or, store it in the fridge, then slice and pan fry in a little oil until both sides blister.
Store the cake
Put the cake in an air-tight bag/container once completely cooled. You can leave it on the counter for 1 day (unless the room is very warm), or keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
It freezes well too. Slice it into pieces before freezing. Defrost in the fridge then enjoy it at room temperature, or pan-fry it without defrosting.
Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Rice Cake, 年糕) by Red House Spice