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Monday, April 26, 2010

Osmanthus Cake

Been watching Virtue’s of Harmony (皆大歡喜) in 2002.. and Kwai Fah Gou, Osmanthus Cake is always mentioned for tea or snack. I was very curious, what is that Kwai Fah??? I tried asking any herbal shops and tea shops that I come across with, and they all gave me a blank look, some even asked me how to write it in Chinese. Even Herbs and Food’s employees didn’t know about this ingredient back then (I don't know about now)

But my beloved late Sam Shuk (3rd Uncle, If you are familiar with the YMCA scene, you might know him) bought me some dried osmanthus flowers from Hong Kong. He even got me osmanthus tea by Lipton. I was delighted, but I was busy with my Teacher’s Training Program in JB, that I had no time for it. By the time I was back into the kitchen, my mom has already threw them away.

Lastly these 2 years,  osmanthus has arrived to our shores finally. And even the internet has more recipes for it, especially in English :)
In 2002 and 2003, I was searching high and low on the internet for 桂花糕, there weren’t a recipe to be seen, but now there are loads and loads of it.

There are 2 major versions of Osmanthus Cake/Jelly. First is a glutinous sticky version, the other a gelatin version. I’m not interested in both. Then I saw this, and I’ll do it, without the chestnuts.
The texture was great, bouncy and fragrant with osmanthus.

If you have never seen or tried anything made from osmanthus, let me share with you that the fragrance resembles peach or apricots.

115gm chestnut powder
250ml water
120gm sugar
500ml water
1 Tbsp osmanthus

1. Mix water chestnut powder with 250ml water until no lumps are seen. Set aside.
2. Bring 500ml water and sugar to a boil. Turn off the heat and put in osmanthus flowers to infuse for 2 minutes.
3. Pour osmanthus infusion into (1). Return flour mixture to saucepan/pot and cook until it thickens.
4. Pour into a lightly oiled 7 inch pan. Steam over high heat for 10 minutes and medium heat for another 10 minutes.
5. Cool down totally before slicing


  1. I made this before! This cake was very popular back in year 2007. I've not made this since... My recipe uses only 100g water chestnut flour, the rest are all the same. I've tried adding both water chestnuts and wolfberries, felt the wolfberries version tasted better.

    That's a big jar of osmanthus you've got! I bought a small pack then but I only used up 1/4 pack, the rest went into the bin upon expiry :P

    My dad likes this, maybe I should make this again ;-)

  2. I bought $2 of these osmanthus at the Chinese Medical shop 2 weeks ago, and also a packet of chestnut flour. Not sure which recipe is the best for that 'kwai fah gou'. I'm not interested in the gelatine version. Feel like eating jelly! Remember those HK drama series, they serve these kind of goodies quite often during the play!Yeah, I was curious too and my hubby actually asked me to make some for him. haha....
    You have a nice day!
    Cheers, Kristy

  3. Blessed Homemaker,
    I knew about waterchestnut cake using this method years ago, but I forgot that I can use this method for osmanthus too. I just wanted the texture of the water chestnut starch, something that other ingredients cannot produce.

  4. Blessed HOmemaker,
    Oh ya, you can make tea with the osmanthus flowers, seasoned with some honey. Don't waste it. Or brew it with some green tea or ooloong, makes a fragrant tea.

  5. Kristy,
    You must have been watching the same show as I did,cos it was only that show that always talk about Kwai Fah Gou.
    Try this, since u have everything on hand.

  6. Hi Wendy..
    I love spending my time browsing your blog.. I enjoy looking at this recipe of Osmanhus cake, frankly speaking, never heard of it b4! How jakun am I yea...hehe...Wanna try this la..TQ 4 sharing d recipe! tk care n happy blogging...

  7. Sueozana,
    Well, I'm nt surprised that many have never heard of Osmanthus. It's only available in Malaysia not too long ago.

  8. I never try Osmanthus before but I've seen so many people make dessert out of it. I actual wanted to buy some when I went home the last time but completely forgotten about it until I see you lovely dessert.

  9. ICook4Fun,
    Try Chinatown's tea shops. Maybe they have it.
    It's not everywhere here as well, only selected tea shops.

  10. 从来都没尝过桂花糕的味道是如何?看了你这篇文章,找一天,我准备了这些材料在手后,会尝试做看看.

  11. waaaaaaaaaaaaaa i can see your effort there...not just in making your taking their pics too.....the pics are very nice...i love this kind of pics....very ehhh.....elegant? haaahaha

  12. Hmm, I like Osmanthus too. I used them to make osmanthus wine. Just simply add osmanthus flower, melted rock sugar into rice wine. Soak for couple of months, approximate. I think you can buy fresh guaifah from Cameron highland. I saw osmanthus trees at CH when I visited there two years ago.
    There is a different type of guaifahgou too, which is made from rice flour, and sandwiched with candied osmanthus flower.

  13. Cherry Potato,
    Ha! this is not the gwai fah gou that is the norm. Usually it is made from glutinous rice flour or gelatin. I just ciplak this out from a waterchestnut cake recipe. If you think that this is the original cake always mentioned on TV, no it is not :)

  14. Manglish,
    Haha, Actually not difficult to take these pics la.
    Just put on top of the table lamp only ma. :)
    Flash off and long shutter speed lor.
    I didn't come up with this idea. I saw this somewhere else last time with a similarly textured cake, so I tried to emulate for this.

  15. SKFong,
    Got ah? I never saw them. But of all my trips to Camerons, I've never ever saw that being for sale anywhere. If those are really osmanthus, I thnk those Cameronians will fully exploit them to sell and make stuff touristy.

  16. Got lah. I saw few trees at the temple. Later I went to the nursery and bought two plants, one for my mom and one for my friend in KL. Unfortunately they didn’t grow well in low land. Maybe not many people know and ask about that.

  17. SKfong,
    Oh, no wonder I've never seen or smell it before in Camerons. I never visit any Temples anywhere.
    Plants bought from Camerons can never live on lowland. Not even the potted flowers. They die within days due to temperature shock, unless they are put to live in an aircon room with good sunlight, then they can survive.

  18. this dessert gives me an image that it's a great dessert in our humid weather.

  19. I love 'Gwai Fa Char' with Green Tea or sometimes with 'Po Lei'. Made 'Gwai Fa Gao' a couple of times with Konyyaku powder ... love them.

    I even found a store here that makes fresh "Gwai Fa Tong' (honey), which I have seen a recipe that calls for it ... that I no longer can find.

    Anyway, can't wait to try out your recipe!!

    Thanks for sharing!

  20. Voon,
    Haha! Yeah, it's boing boing like jelly. But actually it's a kuih la, in english kuihs are cakes ma.

  21. What type of chestnut powder you used this time? I remembered that u said u wont use the same kind that u used for your chrysanthenum jelly coz maybe it'll turn out to be ugly (greyish colour)...

  22. Melody,
    Actually hoh, it's the same pack of flour.
    I was so desperate to try it out, and was lazy to go out and buy, I used up what was left from that hrysanthemum jelly thing. I tried not to chill it before I photographed it and it stayed translucent. I wonder if it is the chilling that caused it to go opaque. Cos the chrysanthemum jelly looked translucent when fresh out of the steamer.

  23. Ok... going to make this !!! Thanks Wendy for the osmanthus :D

  24. Swee San,
    Oh great, let me know the outcome yeah!!

  25. Wendy, I tried this Osmanthus Jelly twice; 1st time, I think I didn't cook till it thick enough and after finish steaming, it wobbly! Why is it yours the surface is so smooth and I can't make it in that way? Even when I try to smooth to level it.

  26. Mel,
    It is wobbly after steaming, cos it's starch.
    I didn't touch the surface after steaming.
    Try shaking the pan gently left and right to level your batter. I do that often so that there will not be spatula marks,

  27. Hi! Thank you very much for the post. I love guai fa go. I tried your recipe but it was not nice at all. It was very, very dense, almost hard. The osmanthus were dry and a little prickly, although it was properly steamed as per your recipe. And the colour. It wasn't like yours at all which was so lovely golden yellow. Mine was a dull grey, opague, much like cement. What went wrong? I used water-chestnut powder, isn't that right?

  28. Anonymous,
    Yes, it's water chestnut powder.
    The texture I got is springy and bouncy.
    I suspect you might have mistakenly weighed too much of the powder or too less water.

  29. Anonymous,
    I've rewritten step 1.
    The ingredients are correct, just that when I read through the instructions, I felt, step one, I should have included "250ml". I think you might have left out this amount of water, which is why your cake is dense. If you still put in all 750ml of water, the cake should be fine, but since you said the cake is dense, I suspect, you only used 500ml water instead of all 750ml.

  30. Hi! I'm writing again as my posts don't seem to go through. Thanks for your reply. Yes, I used all 750ml water. Please advise what went wrong. Also, is the steaming necessary when it's clearly been cooked during the boiling stage?

  31. Anonymous,
    Before I steamed it, it was as thick as gravy.
    After I steamed it, it was firm but sticky.
    When it cooled down, it was firm and no longer sticky.

    At Step 3, you will only need to cook where the watery texture turns heavy and thickens, no need to be like toothpaste texture. It should feel like glue, not gum. Which was why you couldn't smoothen the surface.
    The thickening process at step 3 is to prevent the starch from settling down, but if you overcook at this stage, you won't get a smooth surface. The steaming process is to cook it thoroughly, something that needs not be achieved at Step 3.
    If you boiled the water too long at step 2, you might have reduced the water too much as well.
    As long as the water boils, turn off the heat.

  32. Wendy,
    Guess this wont comes as a surprise to u if i say those comments above and yr introductory say it all. As it is, hearing the chinese version from tv series, i am glad i eventually know its osmanthus in english. been desperate to make this dessert for ages! Please advise me where can I get osmanthus and water chestnut powder? thanks.

  33. Wendy

    sorry, I forgot to sign off.

    this is my name,

  34. Manna,
    If you're not from Malaysia, I will have no idea where to advise you.
    Generally, supermarkets or baking supplies shop or even Chinese ingredients grocery shops will carry waterchestnut powder.
    Osmanthus can be bought at tea shops, where they sell tea leaves.
    I bought mine from Legend of Tea. You can google for the information. It is a chain store available in KL and Perak.

  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. Sweet Pea Yeo,
    It's opaque after chilling.
    Yeah, just cook until it starts to thicken and let the steaming do the further cooking.
    Hope it turns out well next time
    Happy CNY :)

  37. Hi, I want to know that where can i buy the Osmanthus sugar?? Where can i get it from in Malaysia??


  38. Hi Wendy, I just want to ask that where can I buy the Osmanthus sugar. Where can I get it from in Malaysia?

  39. Okay. Nevermind then. Tks :) Then do u know how to make Osmanthus jelly? Need what ingredient?

  40. Amanda,
    Please take some effort to go through the recipe index, thank you!

  41. Okay, I will. But can i used the Osmanthus sugar to make?

  42. Amanda,
    thanks and I don't see why not :)

  43. But do u know how to make this Osmanthus sugar?

  44. Okay. Nevermind :) Tks^^

  45. hi,tried the recipe but turn out very sticky and have difficulty to cut it.follow all the instruction.

  46. Anonymous,
    I hope you have cooled it totally before cutting.
    Absolutely cooled down. If not it will be sticky.
    It won't be absolutely clean cut like a agar-agar, it still has a slight stick to it, because it's made with starch. But there shouldn't have any pieces of the "jelly" sticking to your knife.

  47. what if i cut down the chestnut flour to 100 gm,will it be a different?saw your picture the kwai fa go looks beautiful and clean cut...i even chill overnight before cutting it.when the osmanthus mixture pour in to the chestnut flour mixture and cook till thicken,it surpose to be how thick?

  48. Anonymous (pls leave a name)
    If you cut down the waterchestnut starch too 100gm, it will be even harder to cut, because it will be softer and hence stickier.
    I don't drag my knife. Each knife down is firmly landed and lifted. I don't chill it, once u chill it, it turns opaque.
    The initial cooking part is just to prevent the starch from settling down and to have a homogenous mixture for steaming. Just until it starts to thicken, like glue, thin runny glue.
    You can lightly oil your metal knife or use a plastic spatula/knife. Most kuih sellers will use a plastic spatula to cut, don't you notice that? It doesn't stick.

  49. Thanks for your advise...will try again :)

  50. Just seeing the pictures already look exciting. I have been wanting to eat osmanthus cake for the longest time!!

  51. If opaque color turns you off, try using slab sugar (片糖). It will come out golden in color even after refrigeration.


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