Chinese Jujube Date Sticky Rice Cake is a traditional sweet treat served during Chinese New Year. It has a sticky, taffy-like consistency, and a sweet roasted fragrance and flavor from the jujube date jam (made with dried jujube dates). For the past several years, I’ve been trying new sticky rice cake recipes from my mom’s collection and my aunt, Florence Lin’s, cookbooks. The variations on Chinese sticky rice cake seem to be endless.
This year, one of the sticky rice cakes I ventured to make was my Auntie Florence’s Jujube Date Sticky Rice Cake. The ingredients call for jujube date jam, which was impossible to find, so I came up with my own recipe. Dried jujube dates have a sweet roasted fragrance and flavor quality, similar to roasted chestnuts. It’s subtle, but the flavor comes through in this jujube date sticky rice cake.
If you don’t want to make your own jujube date jam, Auntie Florence suggests substituting dark brown sugar which will sweeten and darken the cake but won’t provide the subtle fragrance and flavor of dried jujube dates. Most brown sticky rice cakes these days seem to be made with brown sugar probably because it is more expensive and time consuming to use jujube date jam. I suspect authentic Chinese sticky rice cake used to be made with jujube dates, as my Auntie Florence’s recipes are all authentically Chinese.
Several years ago, when I spoke to Auntie Florence by phone and got her Baked Coconut Sticky Rice Cake recipe, she recommended Mochiko brand sweet rice flour, which is produced in California. It is very fine and high quality, and can be purchased in the Asian grocery store.
The batter for this sticky rice cake is thick.
This sticky rice cake is steamed. You can either steam it on the stovetop for an hour, or use a pressure cooker or Instant Pot and steam for 30 minutes. If you use a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, you will need a small cake pan (I used a 6″ cake pan). This recipe makes two 6″ sticky rice cakes. So, using an Instant Pot only makes sense if you make half a recipe. I tested this recipe and made one in the Instant Pot and one in a regular steamer.
Insert a trivet in the bottom of the pot, add a cup of water, and cover the sticky rice cake before pressure steaming the sticky rice cake.
This jujube date sticky rice cake was delicious. I sent some to my mom and gave my sister some too. A little goes a long way.
Enjoy fresh, or the next day. It will firm up a bit. If you refrigerate it, the sticky rice cake will harden a bit. You can warm it up in the toaster oven or microwave.
Jujube Date Sticky Rice Cake
- 1 pound sweet rice flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 11 ounces jujube date puree or date jam
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 1/2 cup oil flavorless
- 2 dried jujube dates for decoration
In a medium bowl, whisk together rice flour and baking soda.
In a large bowl, whisk together date jam, sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Gradually add rice flour mixture and mix until smooth. Gradually add oil and mix until well combined.
Line two 6" cake pans or one 8" cake pan with plastic wrap. Divide batter between the two 6" cake pans or pour all of it into one 8" cake pan. Cover pans with aluminum foil.
Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker Method
This works for the 6" cake pan only. Place steam trivet in Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker. Add 1 cup water. Place cake pan on trivet. Cover and select "Pressure" cook mode. Set timer for 30 minutes.
Natural release pressure. Carefully remove cake pan from Instant Pot. Let cool.
Serve at room temperature by cutting into wedges or slices. Keep extras in the refrigerator or freeze for up to one month. To reheat cold sticky rice cake, cut into wedges or slices and toast in toaster oven. Alternatively, dip slices in beaten egg and pan fry with a little oil.
Set up teamer with two tiers. Bring water to boil in steamer pot. Place one cake pan on each steamer tier. Cover and steam for one hour.
Carefully remove cake pan from pot. Let cool.
Serve at room temperature. Keep extras in the refrigerator or freeze for up to one month. To reheat cold sticky rice cake, cut into wedges or slices and toast in toaster oven. Alternatively, dip slices in beaten egg and pan fry with a little oil.
Adapted from Florence Lin's Complete Book of Chinese Noodles, Dumplings and Breads. If you cannot find date jam or don't want to make it yourself, Auntie Florence suggests using 1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar instead of the date jam and sugar.