Steamed Rice Cake

For the Chinese New Year celebration, I also made a Steamed Rice Cake. This is slightly different from the Pak Thong Koh. Pak Tong Koh is leavened by yeast while this Steamed Rice Cake is leavened by double acting baking powder. It does not have the hint of sourness as the Pak Thong Koh.


This Steamed Rice Cake is lightly sweet. It is eaten during Chinese New Year because of the way the cake rises and blossoms. Rise in Cantonese is “fatt” and “fatt” in Cantonese also means prosperity or wealth.


Step 1:

  • 200g rice flour
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 160ml boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon double acting baking powder

Step 2:

  • 120g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon double acting baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence



IMG_3757Sift the rice flour and baking powder (1 teaspoon) into a bowl.
IMG_3760Combine rice flour mixture with coconut milk.

Mix well until you get a smooth batter.

IMG_3761Add boiling water, mix well and set aside to cool.
IMG_3763When cool, stir in the 2nd teaspoon of baking powder and set aside for 1 hour.
IMG_3765Add sugar and vanilla extract to the batter after 1 hour.
IMG_3766Divide the batter into 2 portions. Add different food colouring to the batter.
IMG_3767Line aluminum cups (I used a 6 cups muffin tin) with paper cups. Pour batter into cups until 90% full and leave to rise for 30 minutes. Steam over rapidly boiling water for about 15 minutes.

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  1. Hi Suanne,

    These look really delicious and I’m looking forward to Ben’s upcoming lunch series!


  2. I would love to try to make this! I am bookmarking this page. It’s a bit similar to our Bibingka in the Philippines, but minus the shredded coconut. YUM!

  3. Hi Suanne,

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. This is my hubby’s favorite kueh. I’m wondering is the double acting baking powder the same as the regular baking powder? Just double the amount?



  4. Hi Dawn,

    Double acting baking powder is baking soda with 2 dry acids added to it. You’ll get two leavening actions from it, i.e. once when liquid is added to it and second when it’s heated. It’s different from regular baking powder and not just double the amount.

  5. Hi Suanne,
    I really want to try this recipe. I have made with succes other recipes like the steamed banana cake, pinapple chicken among other. But i have been looking for double acting baking powder here in Panama and have not been succesful yet. Do you think it can be substitute with something else? Thank you very much!!!!!

  6. Hi Celia, I found this substitution from joy of cooking website:

    1 teaspoon of double acting baking powder with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch. Let me know how it turns out.

  7. Hi Suanne,

    I tried to make this for the second time today and I failed again (first time I used glutinous by accident) ! I used the same package of rice flour as you did, but I used the Rooster brand coconut milk Ideal For Baking line. Would it make a difference? I also used continuous action baking powder. I think it is the same as double action? or not?

    Instead, it turned out to be exactly like this texture….

    and not like yours!

    Please help!


  8. Hi Christine, I’m not sure what went with yours. The continuous action baking powder should act like the double action baking powder. I dont think the brand of coconut milk makes any difference. The texture should not be as smooth as the ‘kuih’ in your photograph. The only reason I can think off is the baking powder you have is not fresh anymore, i.e. it’s not working as it should. Try using a new batch.

  9. hi suanne,
    i want to make the sweet rice cakes but are finding the measurements a little hard to
    convert. if it’s not too much trouble can you post up the recipe with the u.s. measurements. i’ve found some sites for the measurements but it’s the grams that i am having trouble with. example. 120g=8.43 tblsp
    can you help?? thanks

  10. Hi Rachel, I found this cooking measurement page which I think will be useful to you.

    For eg. 120g = 4.2oz

    I would also recommend you get a cooking scale where you can switch between metric and us measurement. I had the same problem before I bought a scale. It is very difficult to convert the measurement into spoon and cup.

  11. as far as i know there r 2 types of Australia ie normal bp & double action bp.of course the 2nd type is stronger (& hardly to find in Australia)

  12. wow thanks! this recipe is kind of like “banh bo hap” that i was searching forever for and finally found a video of it on youtube except that guys granny didn’t use water…i’ve included a link if you’re interested….

  13. Hello Suanne,

    I was wondering if you had any steamed recipes for cookies?

  14. Hi Eager to Try New Recipes, I’m afraid I do not have any recipe for steamed cookies.

  15. Could you translate in cups measurement

    How to make double acting baking powder?

  16. I bought a similar cake at Vietnamese bakery and I think they were baked because it has a brown crust on the bottom. The cake is more chewy, darker color and heavier. Do you think it has the same recipe ? or what is the differences ?

    1. Hi Haley, I’m afraid I have not come across the Vietnamese version as described, therefore I cant make a comparison.

  17. Hi Suanne. I came across your steam recipe two days ago. Im so glad I did! I tried your recipe today and quite pleased with the result. Thank you so much for this recipe especially your step-by-step guide. I’ve added your recipe in my blog (with your link) 🙂

    (Sorry. if this comment appeared for how many times in your website *lol* Everytime I submit my comment there’s an IE error *sighs*).

  18. hi Suanne,

    Which kind of double acting baking powder did u use for this recipe? The baking powder that i found in the stores is “Magic baking powder”, and the one that i have at home is a little bag called “Dr. Oetker baking powder”, so i want to know if u have any idea whether i can use either one of these two baking powder since i have no idea if they are single or double acting baking powder. Thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Joan, the double action baking powder that I use is of the brand Blue Ribbon, a product from USA. The container is red colour. On the label, it states “Blue Ribbon is a Double-Action baking powder which reacts in two stages instead of one. The initial rising action is triggered when the liquid is mixed with the dry ingredients. This is followed by the second rising, which is caused by the heat from the oven during baking. Blue Ribbon double action feature allows baking to be delayed a few minutes or several hours if the batter or dough is refrigerated.”

      I know the Magic baking powder is the regular (single action) baking powder. I have not use Dr. Oetker baking powder before.

  19. Hi Suanne,
    Thanks a lot for your answer. When you said “Steam over rapidly boiling water for 15 minutes”, does it mean that we put water in a big cooking pot and when the water is boiling, we put the 6 cups muffin tin on the pot uncovered (since the diameter of the pot is smaller than the muffin tin, the tin won’t fall down into the pot) to let it boil? Or did u use a pot made especially for boiling that asian stores sell? Thanks once again!

    1. Hi Joan, you have to steam the cake covered. If you dont have a pot that is big enough to accomodate the muffin tin, you can steam the cake using paper cup lined small alumninium pie plate on a rack like what we did with the Ma Lai Ko cupcake (

  20. Hi Suanne,

    I’ve been looking for a recipe to make for a friend’s birthday – she is allergic to wheat, soy and dairy so this would be perfect. I was wondering if you’ve ever made it as a larger cake and also if you have ever added anything else to the batter? Like chopped dried cranberries, or chocolate chips?

    1. Hi Ilene, I have not try making this steamed rice cake in a larger size pan and have never added anything to it. Cooking is an adventure and you can always try adding new stuff to a recipe as long as the basic requirement is there. If you intend to make it in a larger pan, you might need to steam it longer like 30 minutes of so.

  21. Hi, I’ve made this sometime back but it was a flop. The texture is not fluffy at all but very kueh-like. I suspect it’s due to my baking powder which is near expiry. I’m definitely going to try this again as we love this cake and this recipe doesn’t require wine biscuit.

  22. hello..i jus tried to steam the rice cake but the result was not good.Mission fail. Will expired baking powder affect the result and the amount of the baking powder added affect the result too?

    1. Hi WeiSheng, when comes to baking or cakes, never use expired baking powder. If the leavening agent is not working, the cake wont rise. Try with a new batch of baking powder.

  23. Hi Suanne,

    my cake looked like kueh and they didnt rise though I followed the ingredients proportions carefully. One thing I noticed when I mixed the flour with coconut milk, it formed a dough and not a smooth batter n watery as shown in your picture. What do you think I might have not done correctly?


  24. Hi Leng, the only problem I can see here is the double acting baking powder. Did you use the right baking powder and check it’s expiry date?

  25. Yap, I have used the double acting baking powder and it is still far from its expiry date. Maybe I will experiment with another brand of bp and use coconut milk instead of coconut cream, probably too thick to form a smooth batter. btw, I am using castor sugar, hope it is not the one that contributed to my failure in making this cake. Will try again and hope to succeed in time for my christmas party. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Suanne

  26. hi suanne,
    i was wondering what is the difference between rice cakes and fat ko? thank you~

    1. Hi flown,
      There are 2 rice cakes recipes in my blog. One is the Pak Thong Koh which texture is quite different from regular cake while the other rice cakes has coconut milk and brown sugar flavour. The fatt ko which has a yeast starter has a great flavour and a lightly chewy or bread like texture. Hope this helps.

  27. Hi I dont like coconut, can I replace the coconut milk with something else?

  28. I love this cake, your recipe & pictures are clear & easy to follow.
    Can i use reg baking p w 1tsp w 1/2 tsp b soda to substitude for 1 tsp DAP.
    Thks wonderful cook.

    1. Hi Christine Love, here is a substitute for double acting baking powder from the joy of cooking website;
      1 teaspoon of double acting baking powder with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch. However, I have not try this before.

  29. Hi Suanne,
    I am happy to see pictures and the step-by-step method in making fatt koh. This was my father’s favorite kuih when he was alive. I have not made this kuih before. Can I substitute soy or almond milk for coconut milk? I have not seen double acting baking powder in the grocery store. Nevertheless, I will check the baking section and keep looking. What is soong koh? Is that different from this kuih?

    1. Hi Rosie, if you cant find the double acting baking powder in store, here is a substitute from

      1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch for 1 teaspoon of double acting baking powder.

      I’m sure you can substitute the coconut milk with other liquid with a slight change in flavour.

      Soong Koh is more like sponge cake.

  30. Hi Suanne,
    Thanks. Do you have a recipe for soong koh?

  31. Hi, can I ask what type of sugar do you use? Granulated (aka regular) or caster? Thank you! Gonna try it out soon:)

    1. Hi Eltaria, I used granulated sugar. If not specified, it’s usually granulated sugar.

  32. Hi!I don’t think the amount of coconut milk is correct.
    If you mix it with 200ml of coconut milk it turns into a dough instead. Maybe it should be a whole can of coconut milk.

    Thanks! I really enjoy browsing through your site.

    1. Hi Apple, I suspect it could be caused by the brand of coconut milk you used. Some of the coconut milk is very thick. The brand that I used is quite liquidy.

  33. Hi suanne,

    I have eno.. May I replace it with the double action baking powder? If yes how much I need to replace it?

      1. Hi suanne,

        Thanks you…

  34. I was looking for a fatt koh recipe, as it’s my mum’s favourite, and I came across many requiring the batter to be fermented. this looks much easier so I might give this a go instead. also wondering, if I want to get a plain fatt koh, just because I liek the texture of it, but want it to be a sort of steamed gluten-free plain bread, can I just cut out the sugar? will it still rise?

    1. Hi shuhan, the rising agent in this recipe is the baking powder and not yeast. If it’s yeast, you’ll need a little sugar to feed the yeast. I’m sure you can reduce the sugar in this recipe but if you omit totally, it will be flavourless.

  35. Hi Suanne,

    Your cakes look so sweet and tempting =) I wish to try making them too, but I dont have a steamer/bamboo basket. Is it possible for me to use a wok, filled it with water and place the bowl within the wok to steam?

    Thanks alot!


    1. Hi Ash, yes, you can steam them in a wok.

  36. I made this but it didn’t rise when I steamed it! I followed the directions, so I’m not sure what went wrong…

    1. Hi Belle, the only problem I can foresee in this recipe is the baking powder. The rice cake did not rise a lot but it will give you a cracked top like the photo in my blog.

  37. I tried making fatt koh. The dough did not rise.

  38. Hi Suanne,
    I have tried making this yesterday and it raise beautifully! However, I receive comments that the “inside” is abit dry and dense.. and there will be “crumbs” dropping off. Is this what it should be? As you did not post pics of your rice cake inner part so I am not sure if this is a successful attempt.. it should be fully cooked since I steam it for more than 20mins. Any ideas? Thanks for the recipe though 🙂

    1. Hi yenne, I think it’s a successful attempt. It is crumbly.

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