Fa Gao A Taiwanese new year dessert recipe

by admin on February 6, 2011

Raspberry Fa Gao

I hope everyone had a great Chinese new year this year. After I introduced you to a few Chinese New Year dishes and explained why we have those dishes for our Chinese New Year dinner. I realized after writing these that I didn’t tell you about the origins of Chinese New Year.

I think there are many different stories behind it but my favorite one is about “monster Nian”.

We believe Chinese New Year started in ancient China when an evil monster called Nian who had a head like a lion and a body as strong as a bull, lived in the deepest ocean but every January or February he would leave the ocean and damage villages and kill animals and people. Everybody was really suffering because of this but the villagers then thought about a plan to stop Nian. They found Nian was sensitive towards fire, strong lighting, red colour and loud noises. So the villagers started wearing red clothes, stuck red paper on their doors, played with fire crackers and they were successful. Nian was terrified and stopped attacking the villages.

The people were so happy that they had got rid of Nian that every year around January/February they would have a big celebration with their family and friends. They and indeed we celebrate by wearing red clothes, shooting firecrackers, eating and drinking and partying all night.

This is the origin of Chinese New Year.

After the origin of Chinese new year. The recipe today is a Taiwanese dessert that we will usually eat or use it to pray to Buddha and hope he will bring us a good year. This dessert in Chinese is called “發糕 Fa-Gao”. It has meaning of “promotion” so we believe if you eat this cake you will receive a promotion this year. Here is my recipe for this Taiwanese dessert “發糕”. I hope you like it.



320g rice flour
100g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
180g brown sugar or caster sugar
360g water
1 bunch dried berries
1 tablespoon strawberry jam
1 teaspoon red food coloring



  1. Mix all the ingredients together evenly and leave it aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Place 4~5 small bowls in a steamer and steam at full power for 5~8 minutes.
  3. Place cup cake paper into small bowls and fill the cup cake paper until 90% full with the mixture.
  4. Steam it for 30 minutes and don’t open the cover or lid or the Fa gao 發糕 won’t rise up.

* The other photo shows the original flavor of Fa gao. All you need to do is just don’t put any dried berries, strawberry jam and red food coloring into the recipe.

Fa Gao

Credit: All photos were taken by Chris at: http://www.chrisradleyphotography.com

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Mel February 6, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Wow! Those cakes look so yummy! Do you use regular rice flour or glutinous rice flour? Also what are barriers? Now I really want to try and make this! Your pictures are beautiful too!


admin February 6, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Hi Mel,
I used normal rice flour which I bought from local Chinese supermarket. Also, I bought mix dried berries (sorry for the misspell. lol ) from Sainsbury supermarket. You can use anything like dried raspberry, or dried strawberry. I hope this information helps. Please let me know how you get on with it. :)


Brittany Trei February 7, 2011 at 12:46 am

Mmm, pretty little steamed cakes! I shall have to try some of these and see if they work for me (the promotion:P)


admin February 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Hello Brittany,
Many thanks for your kind comment. I hope this dessert will help you to get a promotion this year :)


Jane Ko February 7, 2011 at 1:27 am

Yum! I hope you had a great Chinese New Year ^_^


admin February 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Hi Jane,
Thank you very much for your lovely comment and I wish you had a great Chinese New Year too. :D


Lacey @ dishfolio.com February 7, 2011 at 6:51 pm

The lighting in your photos is amazing! Great recipe. Please share with us over at dishfolio.com!


admin February 8, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Thank you Lacey.
I will share my recipe on dishfolio.com asap. ;)


Paula February 7, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I think I could eat this all day long, because I love such delicious looking things :)


Judy / Bebe Love Okazu February 8, 2011 at 6:09 am

happy new year, liv! what a wonderful dessert! i am still learning about my chinese new year and food. usually my husband’s family order take out and my mother-in-law makes one or two dishes. they are more americanized. :)


admin February 8, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Dear Judy,
Thank you very much for your kind comment. I hope you had a great Chinese new year with all of your family and hope my new year post can help you to learn more about chinese new year ;)


Junia @ Mis Pensamientos February 8, 2011 at 11:05 am

congrats on top 9 :)! i love making baked goods with rice flour!!


admin February 8, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Hi Junia,
Thank you very much for your comment. I really appreciate it. :)


Jason February 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Wow those look great! The recipe is very similar to Filipino puto except puto contains no rice flour and a little baking powder (and no fruit haha). I’m totally curious on how the taste compares – I’m adding this to my list of things to make! Thanks for sharing!


admin February 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Hello Jason,
Thank you very much for your kind comment. I really appreciate it. I’m so curious of Filipino puto too. I hope you will share with me your futo recipe some time :)


Jason February 9, 2011 at 4:24 am

I’d love to share my recipe! You can view it on my blog: http://www.theauberginechef.com/2011/01/episode-33-%E2%80%93-puto-filipino-steamed-cake/

Or if that link doesn’t work – it’s under my recipes page under Asian Inspired! Check out kutsinta too which is made using only rice flour.

Congratulations by the way on your top 9 in foodbuzz! I’m looking forward to learning Taiwanese food from your blog!


admin February 19, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Hi, thanks for your comment. Wow, they look really similar. Just from looking at them I’d say they’re the same thing but obviously the ingredients are different. I’ll have to have a go at making this soon. Thanks for sharing and thank you about the top 9.


Paul February 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

wow. those photos are look so yummy. im tempted to eat my laptop screen with your concoction and photo.



admin February 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Hi Paul,
Your comment really made me laugh. Thank you so much.


muppy February 9, 2011 at 3:50 am

These look yum! I really like to try new things, it would be interesting to taste what the rice flour does. Also I have never tried steaming desserts, something on the to-do list!


admin February 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Hi, thanks for your comment. I like to steam some of my desserts as it’s a really healthy way of eating desserts but they do taste different. Hope you can have a go at making a steamed dessert.


mycookinghut February 9, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Gong Xi Fa Cai! I love Fa Gao! It is really delicious! Thanks for sharing, I will come back for more. ;)


admin February 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Thank you very much for your comment. Hope you had a great Chinese New Year!


Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron February 10, 2011 at 8:37 am

Hey Liv, it’s been a while since I last stopped here. wow!! I love your new site and header. It’s so you! The food photos, omg, make me so hungry!

Thanks for the story of Chinese New Year. While reading it, I was like “ahh..that’s why we have fire crackers on New Year”. It all makes sense now.

Fa gao looks so moist and delicious. Seems like everything you make is awesome!


admin February 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Hi Tanantha, thanks for your comment. Glad you like my new website. I liked my old site but it was a bit to business like and I wanted something more “me”, so we made a pink website :D

The firecrackers are one of my favourite parts of Chinese New Year, great fun.

Thanks about the Fa Gao, it’s quite different to regular cupcakes but really tasty. Ha, not everything I make is awesome, far from it, but thank you anyway.


Magic of Spice February 18, 2011 at 12:36 am

I love these so moist and delightful! Hope you had a wonderful Chinese New Year and Valentines day :)


admin February 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Thanks, really glad you like them. Had a great Chinese New Year but sadly had to work really late on Valentines Day. Hope you had a good time as well :)


Vivienne February 21, 2011 at 2:06 am

these looks great…ive made similar ones before but more like a cupcake than fa gao without the rice flour!


Lee Anne May 8, 2011 at 9:15 pm

This looks great! Im making this for extra credit in geography. I had to research taiwan and make some food for the extra credit. I hope it turns out ok! :)


Noora Lynn June 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm

im doing Taiwan too! umm do you know what a steamer is? or did you just use a regular stove? i need to make it by sunday night


admin June 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Hi, I’ve just replied to your other comment about a steamer. You can buy dedicated steamers, typically made by companies by Kenwood. Not sure what you mean by you doing Taiwan too.


Samantha May 27, 2011 at 1:54 am

Do you have to use dried fruit?


admin May 30, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Hi Samantha. For this cake you do have to use dried fruit. If you use fresh fruit the water in the fruit will change the recipe and the cake will have too much water in it and fail.


Noora Lynn June 3, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Hey i want to make this treat for a school project… we have everything but what’s a steamer? procedure #2 ?? please let me now ASAP :)


admin June 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Hi, if you google steamer you’ll see what a steamer is.


Noora Lynn June 6, 2011 at 4:26 am

Thank you soo much!


Agnes January 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Thank you for the recipe, pic and the story, it’s great to be reminded of what I ate as a little girl growing up in Taiwan. I have forgotten!! I can’t wait to make it for this new year!! Thank you for sharing!


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