This Vanilla Mochi Cake is a little east meets west. Kinda like me.
Born in Hong Kong but raised in New Zealand, I'm a Chiwi, a Chinese Kiwi. I love Marmite, Watties T sauce and fish 'n' chips on the beach (or "fush and chups" as we say in NZ). But I still celebrate Chinese New Year, love yum cha and eat with chopsticks.
I'm lucky to have the best of both worlds and this mochi cake, a cross between a vanilla cake and mochi, combines the best of west and east with the delicious flavour and crust of a pound cake and the delightful chewy texture of mochi. It is so good, I ate half the cake myself, no kidding.
Mochi is basically a Japanese rice cake, traditionally made of glutinous rice pounded into a paste, and nowadays with glutinous rice flour (mochiko). It's chewy and gummy and usually used as a wrapper for sweet fillings like sweet red bean paste. Glutinous rice flour is used in many Asian desserts. In Chinese cuisine, we use it to make tong yuen or rice dumplings which we serve in a sweet broth and lor mei chi, which are little parcels of sweetened peanut candy, crushed into bits and wrapped in mochi. A similar steamed version of this vanilla mochi cake is eaten at Chinese New Years called leen goh.
I don't know if it's because I grew up on it, but I love the chewy texture of mochi. If you imagine a slightly chewier version of turkish delight, it's so much fun to eat coz there's just a bit more bite than the yielding softness of a traditional sponge cake.
It's also one of the easiest cakes I have ever made. Plonk all the ingredients in one bowl. Plop in it in the oven and Bob's your uncle.
To start off with, I thought the cake was a little too mochi-y. I had hoped that it would be a bit more cakey. But I couldn't stop eating it. I gorged myself on this cake. And still crave it.
The coconut milk gives it a slight coconutty flavour, but the true star of the show is vanilla. And I only used vanilla essence so I can't even imagine how good it would be with some flash vanilla extract or whole vanilla beans. Just the smell of it baking will give you warm fuzzies all over.
As much as I loved the not-too-sweet, oh-so vanillary, chewy interior, the best part by far was the crusty bits on the outside. It was buttery and sweet and crispy and just so good.
Next time I think I'll make this as cupcakes to maximise the crust factor. If you have one of those fancy mini bundt pans, I reckon give it a go in that to get as much of the crispy parts as you can. I might even go out and buy one of those wee pans just for making this cake. It's worth it.
Vanilla Mochi Cake
adapted from Une-deux senses
Makes 1 cake which can be cut into around 24 little squares.
110g butter, melted and cooled a little
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups caster sugar
5 eggs, beaten (4 in the original recipe, but I reckon 5 will give it a more cakey texture)
2 tsp baking powder
16 oz or 3 cups glutinous rice flour (or mochiko)
1 x 12 oz can of evaporated milk
1 x 13 oz can of coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat your oven to 180oC. Line a sponge roll tin with baking paper.
2. Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to mix and get rid of lumps. Pour all the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk till smooth.
3. Pour cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and a half, until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean and the edges are pulling away from the tin.
4. Cool completely in the pan. before turning out. Or if you're impatient like me, just dig in while its still warm and try not to eat the whole cake by yourself.
***Update: We didn't have any cake left overnight last time I made it but I've made it again and found that the crust doesn't stay quite so crispy even in an airtight container. Still tastes yummy though! Also as cupcakes they take around 20 - 25 minutes and makes around 30 cupcakes***