Water Chestnut Cake

I’m soooooooooo excited about Chinese New Year!!! There are sooooo many things I want to make, and today we went to the chinese supermarket and I spotted the fresh water chestnut that they sell. So I thought I just HAVE to make some water chestnut cake.

Calling it “cake” is wrong really, in Chinese “cake” can mean a lot of things, usually it’s steamed sweets. In this case it’s more like jelly, only that we pan-fry it afterwards. It’s known for its translucent appearance, and the lovely subtle sweetness of the water chestnuts. And please do not have the canned stuff in your mind, that is NOTHING like real water chestnuts.

Now for the water chestnut powder, I’m sure you can find this in any asian grocer shop, ask for it if you’re unsure.

And a must-have for Chinese desserts, rock sugar! These are basically cane sugar + water I think… it’s like a crystal of sugar! My mummy used to give me a little lump to eat whenever she uses it, and that would be a real treat for me. Easily impressed I know! But really, it has a very lovely sweetness, not as harsh as a sugar lump… well you just have to try it! In Chinese it’s actually called “Ice sugar” because it looks like ice cubes I suppose? I should really do some research on this. 🙂

Water Chestnut Cake

Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: Annie


  • 8 fresh water chestnuts
  • 160 g Water chestnut powder
  • 450 ml water room temperature
  • oil for brushing the container
  • 225 g of Rock sugar
  • 475 ml water


  • Peel the water chestnuts and chop them in small cubes (or shred them
  • Mix the 450ml water with the water chestnut powder. Make sure it’s well stirred and then pass it through a sieve.
  • Oil your container and make sure your steamer is ready.
  • Boil 475ml water and dissolve the rock sugar in it, it might take a while if you have big lumps of rock sugar. Keep stirring. When it’s all dissolved, put your water chestnuts in for 1 minute.
  • Pour the water chestnut powder mixture in while stirring, turn off the heat. Keep stirring for 1 minute.
  • Pour into the container and steam for about half an hour or until the cake has become translucent.
  • Let it cool and it should still be a bit wobbly. Chill in the fridge overnight to firm it up, then slice it and pan fry with tiny bit of oil. The outside should be a bit crispy and inside all soft and gooey!


I’ve put some flower petals in so you can see tiny yellow petals! And sometimes you’ll see these cakes in yellow, that’s because of a different type of sugar being used. You can use different sugar for different colour:
Greyish – Rock sugar like mine. Not the prettiest but has a lovely subtle flavour.
Totally translucent – Caster sugar. It’s very pretty with little cubes of water chestnut and petals!
Golden / yellow – Caster sugar mixed with cane sugar (or sometimes a bit of custard powder). The most common type you will see in shops as we all know how Chinese love their gold colour during New Year!

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