These Wife Cakes (also known as Sweetheart Cakes) are a Chinese bakery classic. They consist of a flaky pastry filled with a delicious and chewy, sweet wintermelon and coconut filling. Enjoy them with tea for the perfect afternoon snack.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought I would bring you a sweet recipe (pun intended).
Also, I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for 2 years now! So happy blogiversary to my blog!
I didn’t make an extravagant cake like last year, but I think these Wife Cakes will be just as great.
What are Wife Cakes?
Wife Cakes are also known as “Sweetheart Cakes,” Literally translated in Cantonese as “lo por beng.”
They’re a flaky cookie/pastry filled with a sweet and chewy wintermelon and coconut filling.
The story of how they were created
There are a couple of different versions of how this cake came to be.
But the story goes like this: there was a couple in China who were very much in love, but lived in a very poor village.
The girl’s husband’s father (father-in-law) was suddenly very sick, so they used all of their money to buy medicine to help the father, but he was still sick.
So the girl sold herself as a slave in order to get money to help buy medicine for her father-in-law.
When her husband heard what she had done, he created a cake with sweetened wintermelon and almond and sold it on the street.
Eventually he made enough money that he was able to buy his wife back.
Ingredients you’ll need
For the filling:
- candied wintermleon: the star of the dish, wintermelon — also known as wax gourd, usually chopped into small pieces and preserved with sugar. It’s also used in mooncakes. It’s sold in Asian grocery stores or TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine) herbal shops.
- white sesame seeds: toasted and ground
- shredded coconut: unsweetened
- cooked glutinous rice flour (koh fun): see my note below.
- coconut oil: or you can use unsalted butter
What does wintermelon taste like?
The candied wintermelon has a neutral, slightly melony sweet flavour.
How to make glutinous rice flour (koh fun)?
Note: The chewy texture of the filling comes from koh fun, which is cooked glutinous rice flour, and can be very difficult to find, even in Asian grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can make it at home.
Just use regular glutinous rice flour, toast it over a dry hot pan for 10-12 minutes, stirring consistently (as to not burn), and it should turn slightly tan in colour.
For the pastry:
The flaky pastry consists of an oil dough and water dough.
Layer the 2 doughs together to produce a flaky pastry, similar to making puff pastry.
How to serve and store
You can serve the Wife Cakes slightly cooled after baking, or at room temperature.
Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Alternatively, you can freeze them in an airtight container and reheat in the oven until crisp.
Pair them with a cup of tea, or an HK Milk Tea Bubble Tea and you’ve got the perfect afternoon snack.
Other recipes you may like
You may like the other recipes:
If you’re looking to bring a Chinese bakery classic that will be sure to impress your sweetheart, try this recipe out!
Let me know if you try it — I’d love to see your creations. Tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave a comment/rating below.
Wife Cakes (老婆餅)
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 120 g candied wintermelon diced up finely
- 1 Tbsp roasted white sesame seeds blitz into a powder
- 1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
- 40 g cooked glutinous rice flour (koh fun)
- 5 ml coconut oil or unsalted butter
- 50 g water
- 100 g cake flour or low-protein flour
- 40 g unsalted butter
- 50 g water
- 80 g cake flour
- 60 g coconut oil room temperature
- 1 egg yolk beaten + 1 tsp water
- white or black sesame seeds for sprinkling
- Combine all the filling ingredients together in a bowl. Mix together.
- Divide into 8 balls, about 28g each.
- Mix together the Water Dough ingredients in a small bowl.
- Divide into 8 portions about 23g each. Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Mix together the Oil Dough ingredients in another bowl. Divide into 8 portions about 16g each. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 400°F/204°C.
- Roll out the Water Dough into an round disc. Press in 1 ball of Oil Dough over top of the water dough and wrap into a round ball. Flatten into an oval shape with a rolling pin. Roll the combined dough up into a coil (like a swiss roll).
- Turn the dough 90 degrees, flatten and roll it up again into another swiss roll.
- Flatten it into a circular shape with the palm of your hand. Place the wintermelon filling in the center of the dough and wrap it, ensuring it is enclosed.
- Gently flatten the sphere into a disc, using a small wooden rolling pin. Careful not to push too hard or the filling will explode.
- Make 2 slits on the top of the disc.
- Brush with egg yolk wash and sprinkle some sesame seeds. Repeat with the remaining.
- Bake at 400°F/204°C for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and flaky.
- Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.
Recipe adapted from Siu Kitchen.