Easy Vegan Smiling Steamed Rice Cake – Fatt Koh

DU Smiling Rice Cake 100
DU’s Smiling Cake

Smiling cake, is Chinese muffin made from rice flour.  Chinese  people believe the “smiling” cakes would bring good luck and prosperity for the New Year. 

Today, I decided to make the smiling cupcakes and created my recipe.  My cupcakes are greeting me  with the big happy  smiles.  The  cakes are light and tasty.  Enjoy!

My super easy gluten-free recipe is adapted from Mama Cheung’s recipe (used all purpose flour without coconut cream, see reference).


(4-6 small cupcakes)

  • 80g  of sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tbsp. of baking powder
  • 1/4 cup of tapioca flour
  • 200 g of rice flour  (2 cups)
  • 1 cup of  water (reduce 2 T. to add cream)
  • 2 tbsp.  coconut cream (or heavy cream or butter)
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • Few drops of food color
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt


  1. Prepare steamer and boil water 10 minutes before steaming cupcakes.
  2. Need 6 small teacups or muffin pan.
  3. In a  bowl,  add all ingredients.  Mix, and stir well, until we get very smooth batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the mold about 90% full.  This is the key step for the cake to “smile.”
  5. Make sure steamer in high heat, and  water  is boiling.
  6. Place the cupcakes inside the steamer, and steam 15-20 minutes.
  7. Remove  cupcakes from steamer. Let the smiling cakes cool, before removing them from the mold.

Cooking tips

  1. Since the cakes need  room to rise high and smile, we must use deep stainless steel steamer.
  2.  The key for smiling cake  is to pour the batter into the mold  90% full.
  3. With glass lid, we can watch the process of rising and smiling cakes (love to watch it!).
  4. Tip from successful baker Tuyet:  1) weight flour and sugar, 2) use cup for liquid.
  5. The rice cake are not fluffy like the regular cake made with eggs, flour.  Need to warm  cakes up when they are cold.
  6. Add eggs, butter, milk to enhance the flavor.
  7. Try muffin recipe  (not gluten-free).


In Vietnam, the smiling cake, is called “Banh Thuan.”  I ate that cake when I was very young.   The cake was so soft and fluffy like Japanese cotton cake.  Base on the texture of the cake, I think it was made from a special “cake flour,” not rice flour.  Cake made from rice flour is dried when it is cold.  There is also similar smiling cake in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

It seems that people have a lot of problem to make the cakes “smile.”   In Thailand, people use special chemical to makes the cake smooth and open.  My cakes are all smiling,  and there is no hard work.


  1. Steam Cake Easy, Mama Cheung, Youtube video in Chinese with English subtitle.  It’s good to watch to see the processing steps.
  2. Link to recipe of smiling steamed rice cake from trucvy Zoe
  3. Recipe of rice-fatt-koh  – from Lily’s Wai Sek Hong


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