Home Made Cake: Baked Nian Gao (Sticky Rice Cake) with Red Bean Paste

Home Made Cake: Baked Nian Gao (Sticky Rice Cake)

This home made cake recipe for baked nian gao is a traditional treat eaten in celebration of Chinese New Year. Nian gao literally means "sticky rice cake" but is also a homonym for "year high" and is supposed to bring luck by symbolising achieving new heights in the coming year.

There are many different ways to prepare nian gao, which can be either sweet or savoury, depending on which region of China you're from. My personal favourite is the baked version, which is quick and easy to make (and even quicker and easier to eat!). I hope you'll find this home made cake recipe just as simple to follow.

For this recipe, I did make my own sweetened red bean paste in advance. If you're short on time, pre-made tinned versions can also be found, along with glutinous rice flour, in East Asian food markets. Make sure you use glutinous rice flour and not normal rice flour, or you will not achieve the desired texture. Glutinous here simply means sticky - this recipe is, in fact, gluten free.

This traditional treat is a great way to introduce baby to Chinese New Year and its customs. Enjoy and gong xi fa cai - Happy New Year!

This recipe yields approximately 35 bite-sized pieces.

450g glutinous rice flour
540ml milk (I used full fat milk)
3 large eggs
215ml vegetable oil (I used flavourless coconut oil)
120g demerara sugar
425g sweetened red bean paste
Butter for greasing


  • Preheat oven to 180C / 160C Fan. Lightly grease an oblong 9 x 13in (23 x 33cm) baking pan and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together, except for the red bean paste.
  • Mix well until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Pour half of the mix into the greased baking pan.
  • Drop spoonfuls of red bean paste evenly all over. I like to first flatten the red bean paste with my fingers before layering it onto the mixture, which makes it easier to cover fully.
  • Pour the remaining mixture over the red bean paste, and smooth it evenly across.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes until golden brown on top.
  • Remove, and cool sufficiently before cutting into small pieces and serving.
Home Made Cake: Baked Nian Gao (Sticky Rice Cake)

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  5. Baked Nian Gao (Sticky Rice Cake)
  1. Mummy-Made
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  6. Baked Nian Gao (Sticky Rice Cake)

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