This is one of my favorite childhood comfort food. It is a Hokkien style steamed pumpkin cake, though many other dialects have their own version. I always remembered my mum and dad in the kitchen, dicing and mashing all the ingredients together. Back when I was a kid, my most anticipated moment would be when the cake was made and when still piping hot, sliced and fried with some eggs. This would be our happy dinner.
During a lunch outing to a nearby hawker centre, one of my colleagues was disappointed when she could not get steamed pumpkin cake from the old-style cake shop we frequented. The auntie makes loads of different kinds of cakes and kuehs to sell. Besides steamed pumpkin cake, she sells rice dumplings, soon kueh, peng kueh, ondeh-ondeh, huat kueh and more. The menu of the day depended, I guess, on the ingredients she was able to buy. All the food she sells are cheap and at that price, tastes okay.
The steamed pumpkin cake she sells is light orange in color, but taste-wise, the sweet pumpkin was used sparingly and there were not many mushrooms, chinese sausages or pumpkin cubes inside. That is expected, since she cannot put in so many ingredients and sell cheap enough that people would buy.
Seeing my colleague’s disappointment, (this is the second trip we’ve made with no steamed pumpkin cake), I decided to ask my parents if they would be willing to make this. They were more than happy to make the cakes, though it involved a lot of cutting and mixing and pureeing. The whole process, including preparation, took 3 hours.
It has been 5 years since this steamed pumpkin cake was made. Seeing the amount of effort my parents went through to produce 2 x 30 cm round cakes, I appreciate every single bite. My colleagues were delighted and loved it! I attach the original recipe from my mum’s friend, who probably got the recipe from another older source, typed out in excel sheet by my mum a long time ago. Old recipes are golden treasures and such good things must be shared and handed down.
Note: My parents skip the ajinomoto when making this. So long as you do not skimp on the ingredients, the taste is sufficient, particularly if you use ripe sweet pumpkin.