Sunday 22 June 2014

Water Chestnut Osmanthus Wolfberry Cake (马蹄桂花枸杞子糕)

*Cough* *cough* *sniffle* *sniffle*. Everyone in my family is taking turns to be heaty and come down with a bad cold. I thought it might be a good idea to make this cooling cake for everyone, including myself. Refreshing, soft and slightly chewy water chestnut cake with osmanthus flowers infused and wolfberries scattered in:

Osmanthus flowers are known to provide antioxidants, help to expel phlegm and relief cough. Wolfberries are rich in antioxidants and water chestnuts help to reduce heatiness. Sounds medicinal but it's really good to have this on really warm days as a cool and refreshing dessert too :). It's really simple to make this as only boiling, steaming, and stirring and pouring are involved but you may or may not find it easy to get hold of water chestnut powder/ flour, depending on where you live.

In Singapore, we can get this from large TCM shops like Yue Hwa. Some supermarkets may sell too, like Sheng Shiong near where I live. Look for it under the jelly/ agar agar section and not the flour section.

I added more water than recommended on the water chestnut flour packaging so the resulting cake is more like Nyonya kueh texture. Hubby said this texture is good and the kids loved this even though I think it's quite an adult-palate dessert. I used to make water chestnut cake with less water and some chopped water chestnuts in it. The kids did not like it as much as this. Hubby preferred plain osmanthus and wolfberry water chestnut cake as the osmanthus flavor is stronger whereas the kids liked both layered with coconut milk and the plain osmanthus. Like the kids, I like both for the throat-soothing refreshing taste :).

The recipe is adapted from Munch Ministry. Quantity is enough to fill 4 silicone heart mould (about 90-100ml each) and 2 mini loaf pans.

Osmanthus and wolfberry water chestnut cake
50g water chestnut powder/ flour
110g cool water
260g water
10g brown sugar
40g white sugar (You may replace with rock sugar but I didn't have any at the moment.)
1 tbs dried osmanthus flowers
1.5 tbs dried wolfberries

Coconut milk water chestnut cake
50g water chestnut powder/ flour
110g cool water
150g water
90g coconut milk
50g white sugar

1. Grease pans/bowls that you are pouring the water chestnut mixture im for steaming.  If you are using silicone moulds, you don't have to grease. Prepare wok/ steamer for steaming.
2. Prepare the osmanthus wolfberry water chestnut cake mixture. Rinse wolfberries and soak in 260g of cool water for 15 minutes. Scoop out the wolfberries and gently pat dry with paper towel. Reserve the water used for soaking the wolfberries.
3. Mix well ingredients in A) and sieve to remove any large undissolved bits of water chestnut flour. What you get is a suspension that will have to be stirred just before combining with B).
4. Boil water that was used to soak the wolfberries with brown and white sugar. When the water boils, throw in osmanthus flowers, cover the saucepan and turn off the heat. Let the flowers steep for 2 minutes. You may wish to strain away the flowers if you don't like chewing on it. If you choose to strain, bring the mixture to boil again before taking it off the heat.
5. Slowly pour in A) while stirring continuously. If you are making plain osmanthus wolfberry water chestnut cake, you may add in pre-soaked wolfberries to the water chestnut mixture before pouring into mould for steaming. Steam for 30 minutes if you are not making the coconut milk mixture. I scooped about 12 tbs into a mini loaf pan to steam. If you are making layered cake, place some wolfberries into the mould. I lined wolfberries such that they follow the heart shape of the mould. Cover the wolfberries with water chestnut mixture. Mine was about 2 tablespoons for each heart. Steam for 10 minutes on medium high heat.
6. In the meantime while the osmanthus water chestnut layer is being steamed, prepare the coconut milk water chestnut mixture. Mix together ingredients in A) and sieve to remove any undissolved lumps of watee chestnut powder.
7. In a small saucepan, boil water, coconut milk and sugar. Once it boils, remove from heat and slowly pour in A) while stirring continuously. You may pour this mixture into a mould to steam for 30 minutes (about 12 tbs worth) if you would like plain coconut milk water chestnut cake.
8. Carefully remove the lid of your steamer/wok to prevent water from dripping onto your cake. Spoon 2 tbs into each heart mould and steam for another 10 minutes.
9. Repeat layering the layered cake with another layer of osmanthus and wolfberries, and coconut milk water chestnut mixture.

** You may reduce amount of water in the mixture if you prefer a firmer cake, but take note that the cake will harden when chilled in the fridge. Steam for another 10 minutes if you find that the cake mixture still flows when you tilt the mould. The center may still be a bit wobbly when you are done with steaming. Don't worry, it will set when you refrigerate it.

10. Cool the cakes in the mould at room temperature before refrigerating them for an hour. Remove carefully from the mould. Run a toothpick around the edges to release the cakes.

The cakes are best eaten chilled but due to our coughs, I let them sit at room temperature for a while before serving.  Some people prefer the pan-fried version of water chestnut cakes but I personally prefer the more refreshing steamed-chilled version.


Praying that all of us recover soon!

With love,
Phay Shing

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