Thursday, March 27, 2014

Taiwan Food Diary: Brown Sugar Cake

There are plenty to look out for while in Taipei, from the local eateries to the street food, there is no end to the varieties staring and beckoning to you from every corner and alley while in the city. It is almost synonymous to that of my own country, where the food never seems to take a break or go to sleep at all; perhaps even more so back in my country where you could wake up in the middle of the night feeling hungry and you are still able to dispel that quickly by popping to those late night to early morning eateries everywhere (that's Malaysia for you).

In my food diary, the trails of the food and the types of food will be shared along the way; hand in hand with the updates from my travel blog which shares on all the places visited, with a quick note of my personal perspectives during the journey to each and every site.

The morning where we visited Longshan Temple, and then wound up checking out the streets nearby; which had a bustling morning market in action, beckoning to the early birds' crowd.

It is interesting that while I don't frequent the markets (morning or night) back in my hometown, I ended up doing the exact opposite when I am in a foreign country; but in my defense, this was supposed to be something that the locals do around here, and hey, somehow everything seems fun when you are traveling? (I doubt I will have that same enthusiasm to do the same thing back here, but I might try, once in a while).
I was interested to capture and watch the typical or usual scenes which take place in the neighborhood, and all these seems like what the locals enjoyed on a regular basis.
Besides, their morning market was not exactly similar as it seemed more like a street filled with eateries on one side of the street while the other are laid with canvas mats with second hand goods for sale.

I spotted this particular stall selling cakes, buns, and baked goods, which caught my eye, as there were many items which were really fascinatingly unique and they were mostly meant for deities worship (remember the Longshan temple was nearby?)

The way to tell the goods were meant for worship is to look out for red patterns or red wordings or dot; yeah, the key word here being something red on the buns, or cakes. Red is considered an auspicious color and the Chinese dwell on this; and it is practiced by all of them in every corner of the world (yes, wherever you go).

There are inscriptions of well-wishes or meaningful words on the buns usually; such as prosperity, wealth, luck, longevity and such in red that makes them unmistakably the items for the deity worship.
Most of these can be consumed; although it would help to check with the seller if you are unsure.
The lady running the stall was quite friendly; though not with that beaming smile but she was quite soft-spoken and kind enough to answer some of our questions. She even recommended some cakes for us to try; and I ended up picking this.

It costs about TWD$20-30 per packet; which contained 4 pieces.
The description says that this is a Brown sugar cake; made without eggs or any dairy products.
The main ingredients are rice flour, brown sugar, water, and rising sugar.

Brown sugar is typically associated with dispelling heat/toxins from the body; as compared to the usual white sugar, or so as believed by some of the elders. Another reason it is also favored in baking is due to the light fragrant scent from the brown sugar itself, which added a little bit more flavor to the baking.

The cake, was surprisingly quite dense and it tasted like an entire block of brown sugar with rice flour. Taste wise, I wouldn't say it was too bad, if you are a fan of cakes and non-dairy stuffs, this would be quite an interesting try, though not so much for the non-gluten folks.

The cake was also topped with a fair scattering of sesame seeds, to add to the taste.
There were also no preservative included in the cake; nor is there any artificial coloring, and we were told that the cake should be consumed within the very same day (recommended). If not, it should be refrigerated immediately, and even then, it's best to consume it within a day or two.

Not a bad try, though I think we may be able to find this back home, maybe not in the same texture or taste. It should not be hard for baker enthusiasts to be able to simulate or even innovate this simple recipe?


  1. This looks interesting! Haven't come across it before. Have you tried to make it yet?

  2. WokandSpoon, Nope, I am not gifted like you, in the kitchen, LOL :-P