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Chinese New Year's Cake

Fruits, Desserts, and Other Sweet Foods

Chinese New Year's Cake
1 pound Chinese brown sugar bars
1 and 3/4 cups water
1 and a 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 and 3/4 cups glutinous rice flour
1 and a 1/3 cups mashed cooked or canned yams
1 jujube, for garnish (optional)
1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
1. Bring sugar and water to the boil, lower the heat and simmer six to seven minutes until the sugar has dissolved, then cool.
2. Mix in the oil and set aside one-quarter cup of this syrup.
3. In a large bowl, combine the flour and the yams. Then add the remaining syrup and combine. Then mix with your hands squeezing the batter through your fingers for at least ten minutes. The longer done the better and the chewier the cake will be.
4. Generously oil a nine-inch round cake pan (or a two-quart heatproof bowl with straight sides such as one for a souffle). Pour the batter in, smooth the top, then tap the pan several times to force bubbles to the top.; resmooth the top and spread the reserved syrup over it.
5. Steam over at least two inches of boiling water for four hours. Replenish the water with more boiling water every twenty minutes or so; be careful not to get water on the cake.
6. Garnish, if desired, five minutes before completion by putting a jujube in the center and sprinkling with sesame seeds; then steam five minutes longer. When done, cool to room temperature. When cool, cover with foil and let rest overnight or up to three days in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, steam for ten minutes, then re-cool to room temperature before serving. Turn the cake out but do not turn it over.. To serve, cut it in one-quarter-inch thick slices. This recipe serves sixteen.

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