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Fa Gao (Chinese Prosperity Cake, 发糕)

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Fa Gao, or Chinese prosperity cake, is a light and fluffy steamed sweet cake topped with jujubes. Make this celebratory cake for Chinese New Year to bring in good fortune!  {Vegetarian}

Fa Gao (发糕), or Fat Goh in Cantonese, symbolizes prosperity. The character 发 (Fa) is the same one in the phrase 发财, which means “bringing in good fortune”. It is a dish that is often made during Lunar New Year. 

Northern style Fat Goh

Different versions of Fa Gao

There are different ways to make Fa Gao depending on the region. In southern China, you might see muffin-sized cakes with a flower-like top. The texture is soft with a light brown color. In northern China, we make Fa Gao quite differently. We usually use a cake mold to make a larger cake, with dried fruit on top and inside. 

Different from the southern style Fa Gao, Northern Fa Gao typically only uses all-purpose flour and yeast (instead of starches and baking soda) to make a bread-like texture. The cake is lightly seasoned with sugar, and sometimes with added color from brown sugar. Once steamed, the northern Fa Gao is spongy and lightly sweet. It is a perfect side dish for dinner, or a healthy snack to serve with tea.

When I was little, we often saw street vendors selling Fa Gao on the street. The street version of Fa Gao is quite different as well – it is a very large steamed sheet cake filled with various dried fruits such as apricots, raisins, candied ginger, etc. To purchase, you could ask the vendor for a slice and they would cut it for you. Our homemade version is much smaller and filled only with jujubes. 

Since the name Fa Gao symbolizes prosperity, it is often made during Chinese New Year as a celebratory cake. But my family actually makes this cake quite often and serves it as a side for lunch or dinner. 

Today I want to share my favorite homestyle Northern Chinese Fa Gao recipe with you!

Sliced Fa Gao served with tea

Fa Gao ingredients

Dried jujubes

Dried jujubes are a staple in Northern China and we use them to make all kinds of dishes, such as Rice Pudding, Eight Treasure Congee, and Jujube Tea. They have a spongy texture and a red skin. Once cooked, the texture becomes very tender and it tastes fruity and mildly sweet. 

Jujubes are also quite important in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is a warm (Yang) ingredient that helps build strength, as well as reduce inflammation, anxiety, and insomnia. 

You can purchase jujubes in large Asian grocery stores, Chinese grocery stores, or on Amazon. When you purchase jujubes, try to find the smaller type (about 1” / 1.5 cm long) with red skin that’s not very wrinkly. The good quality jujubes are not super dry and taste better.   

Mise en place

Northern Chinese Fa Gao uses very simple ingredients:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Dried jujubes
  • Egg
  • Brown sugar
  • White sugar
  • Yeast 
  • Water
Ingredients for making Fa Gao
Northern Chinese prosperity cake with jujubes

The white sugar in the cake adds sweetness, and the brown sugar adds color. If you wish to make a sweeter Fa Gao, you should slightly increase the amount of white sugar.

My version of Fa Gao is only mildly sweet, so the sweetness of the jujubes comes through. I also like to dice some jujubes to put inside of the batter as a natural way to sweeten it and add a nice texture. 

By keeping the cake less sweet, I can serve it either as a side for dinner or as a dessert with a touch of maple syrup. 

How to make Fa Gao

Making Fa Gao is quite easy:

  1. Dissolve the sugar in warm water.
  2. Sift the flour.
  3. Mix yeast into the flour.
  4. Add the wet ingredients (sugar water and egg).
  5. Mix it into a thick batter.
  6. Run the batter through a colander to dissolve any flour clumps.
  7. Add the chopped jujubes.
  8. Pour the batter into a 6” cake mold and spread the halved jujubes on top.
  9. Let the batter rest until the size doubles.
  10. Steam for 30 minutes.
How to make Fa Gao Step-by-step

Once steamed, the cake will be fluffy and spongy, with a lightly sweet taste and some fruitiness from the jujubes. 

Fa Gao with jujubes close up

How to serve Fa Gao

Once the cake cools off a bit, you can slice it into wedges. I enjoy a freshly made Fa Gao when it’s still a bit lukewarm, but it’s quite nice served at room temperature.

Since Fa Gao is not very sweet, you can serve it like bread with your dinner. 

You can also serve it as a dessert by drizzling some honey or maple syrup over it, accompanied with green tea.

Store your leftover Fa Gao in the fridge. You can either steam it again to warm it up, or cover it with a damp paper towel and warm it up in the microwave. 

Drizzle honey over sliced Fa Gao

More Chinese New Year recipes

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Fa Gao, or Chinese prosperity cake, is a light and fluffy steamed sweet cake topped with jujubes. Make this celebratory cake for Chinese New Year to bring in good fortune! {Vegetarian}

Fa Gao (Chinese Prosperity Cake, 发糕)

Fa Gao, or Chinese prosperity cake, is a light and fluffy steamed sweet cake topped with jujubes. Make this celebratory cake for Chinese New Year to bring in good fortune! {Vegetarian}

Author: Maggie Zhu

Course: Side, Snack

Cuisine: Chinese

Keyword: homestyle

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Inactive time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes


  • 50 g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar (*Footnote 1)
  • 160 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 4 g (1 teaspoon) instant yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 16 jujubes , pitted, 10 halved, and the remaining 6 chopped


  • Add the brown sugar, white sugar, and water into a small bowl. Microwave to heat up for 30 seconds. Stir to dissolve completely. Let the water cool off while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

  • Sift the flour into a medium-sized bowl. Add the yeast and stir to mix well.

  • Once the mixture of sugar water cools to skin temperature, pour it into the flour. Add the egg. Stir everything together to mix well until it forms a smooth batter, but do not over mix. Run the batter through a colander into a big bowl, pressing down any remaining bits that are not mixed evenly. Add the chopped jujubes. Stir again to mix well.

  • Grease a 6” cake pan with a thin layer of oil. Pour in the batter. Shake the pan to smooth out the batter. Arrange the halved jujubes on top. Let rise in a warm spot until the size doubles, 1 hour or so.

  • Prepare a steamer by adding 2” (5 cm) water into the pot. Heat covered over medium-high heat until boiling. Place the cake pan onto the steamer rack, and place the rack over the steamer. Steam for 30 minutes over medium-high heat. Then turn off the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes (do not remove the cover).

  • Once done, transfer the cake pan onto a rack to cool off slightly. Then turn it upside down to remove the cake. Once it’s cooled enough to handle by hand, or to room temperature, slice it into wedges and serve.


  1. The brown sugar adds color and the white sugar adds more sweetness. If you want a sweeter tasting Fa Gao, use 2 to 3 tablespoons of white sugar.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 158kcal, Carbohydrates: 32.5g, Protein: 4.3g, Fat: 1.6g, Saturated Fat: 0.4g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 21mg, Potassium: 123mg, Fiber: 0.7g, Sugar: 7.8g, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 2mg

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