The Best Bakery Style Asian Cake Recipes 

by Jeanne

We love Asian desserts. The main reason for this is that they aren’t too sweet. There’s just enough to make it feel like a treat without being overwhelmed by sugar or syrup. While we enjoy them on special occasions, these Asian cake recipes are perfect for any day of the year. 

What’s in this post:

  • Meyer Lemon Chiffon Cake
  • Rainbow Rice Cake
  • Chinese Steamed Cake
  • Japanese Strawberry Cheesecake
  • Chinese Bakery Fruit Sponge Cake
  • Matcha Basque Cheesecake
  • Castella Cake
  • Matcha Swiss Roll Cake
  • Japanese Cheesecake
  • Thousand Layer Spice Cake
  • Chinese New Year Cake Recipe

When traveling, we love to eat like the locals. I can remember the first time I went into a real Asian bakery abroad. My eyes were dazzled by the colors of the cakes and cookies. So many of the treats are very different from what you’ll find in Canada or the United States, which made it more exciting. If you can’t make your way to Tokyo, Seoul, or Hong Kong, baking something delicious is the best way to bring those flavors into your home. 

Meyer Lemon Chiffon Cake

Growing up, my grandmother made the best lemon cakes with lemony icing. It was so good, it’s making my mouth water just thinking about it! When I first had a Meyer lemon chiffon cake, the bright, sweet, but tart flavors warmed my heart. It feels like sunshine in your mouth! If you’re looking for chiffon cake recipes, you’ve found the best one! 

Meyer lemon chiffon cake Asian cake recipes

You can use regular lemons in this recipe, but Meyer lemons have a distinct flavor. They taste a bit like the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu and give this light and airy cake a subtle sweetness. It’s one of my favorite cakes to enjoy with a cup of tea. It feels decadent, but not overly indulgent. Quick tip: let it come to room temperature before drizzling with icing sugar!

What you’ll need:

  • Large eggs (egg yolks and egg whites separated)
  • Sugar 
  • Neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc)
  • Meyer lemons
  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Confectioners’ sugar/powdered sugar

Try this: Meyer Lemon Chiffon Cake

Rainbow Rice Cake (Mujigae Tteok)

You might be familiar with the spicy Korean rice cakes that are a popular street food (I could eat tteokbokki every day!), but did you know you can make a dessert too? We absolutely love Maangchi’s recipes (she’s never failed us!) so I’m pretty excited to share this recipe. 

This rainbow rice cake is so beautiful. It’s sometimes even called “colorful rice cake” because of its vibrant hues. You will need to use frozen rice flour for this cake (or make it at home) along with a variety of food coloring. This recipe encourages bakers to incorporate at least five different colors to make it gorgeous. 

What you’ll need: 

  • Frozen rice flour
  • Sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Water
  • Liquid food coloring
  • Lemon
  • Mugwort powder (ssukgaru)
  • Cocoa powder
  • Steamer
  • Sifter
  • 8 inch (20 cm) ring or springform pan

A word of caution: You need to use short grain rice flour for this recipe. You can’t use Mochiko (sweet rice flour) which is made from glutinous rice flour. It’s too sticky so use short grain flour for a fluffier cake! 

Try this: Rainbow Rice Cake (Mujigae Tteok)

Chinese Steamed Cake

You may have heard this Chinese steamed cake referred to different names — ma lai go (Cantonese) or ma la gao (Mandarin). The “ma lai” refers to “Malay,” as in Malaysia and gao means cake. So, essentially, this might be sometimes called the Malaysia cake. If you’ve had this in Hong Kong or one of the better Asian bakeries, they probably made it with a starter dough. 

Chinese steamed cake

I’ll be honest, I’m not quite ready for the time investment required to make a starter dough. Fortunately, this simplified recipe offers a shortcut! You’ll need an electric mixer to give your cake batter as much air as possible, but aside from that this recipe is easy and perfect for making one of the best Chinese steamed sponge cakes you’ve ever had! 

What you’ll need:

  • Large eggs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • Vanilla extract 
  • Evaporated milk
  • Vanilla pudding mix / custard powder
  • Cake flour
  • Salt
  • Baking powder
  • Butter or vegetable shortening
  • All purpose flour
  • Electric mixer

Try this: Chinese Steamed Cake

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

Whenever I think about Japanese strawberry shortcake, my heart sings. It’s just so, so, so good. If I could have it every Sunday, I would. The cream frosting isn’t overly sweet and the strawberries make this taste so fresh and delicious. 

Japanese Strawberry Cheesecake

The actual cake in this recipe is a soft and fluffy sponge cake that is so well balanced with the vanilla cream. This is definitely a classic Asian-bakery style dessert that you will want to make again and again. 

What you’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Plain flour
  • Egg yolks
  • Egg whites
  • Sugar 
  • Heavy cream
  • Vanilla paste
  • Water
  • Fresh strawberries

Try it: Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

Chinese Bakery Fruit Sponge Cake

You’ll need to make a white meringue to make this airy sponge cake, but it will be worth the effort. Fortunately, the author of this recipe insists that it looks more complicated than it actually is. Once you’ve done it the first time, you’ll see that replicating one of the most popular Chinese bakery cakes is a breeze! 

Chinese Fruit Sponge Cake

And truth be told? The whipped cream frosting and fresh fruit make the effort worth it. It’s a classic, very popular dessert and is often made as a birthday cake. It’s a real crowd-pleaser!

What you’ll need:

  • Egg yolks
  • Egg whites
  • Granulated sugar
  • Cooking oil
  • Whole milk
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cake flour
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Hot water
  • Heavy cream
  • Icing sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • A mixture of fruit of different colors for the top of the cake

Try this: Chinese Bakery Fruit Sponge Cake

Japanese Cheesecake

It still shocks me to remember the fact that I hated cheese as a child. It’s no surprise, therefore, that it took me a LONG time to try cheesecake for the first time. While I really enjoy New York Cheesecake, it was Japanese cheesecake that made me fall in love. 

Japanese cheesecake asian cake recipes

This is the absolute perfect combination of cheesecake and sponge cake. The texture and tastes are truly unique, and once you try this, you won’t look for another recipe. It’s really that good. The recipe can be a bit tricky, so be sure to watch the YouTube video on the site! 

What you’ll need:

  • Large eggs
  • Cream of tartar
  • Sugar
  • Cream cheese
  • Low-fat milk
  • Unsalted butter
  • Lemon juice
  • All-purpose flour
  • Cornstarch
  • 8 inch springform round cake pan

Try this: Japanese Cheesecake recipe

Castella Cake

There’s nothing quite like castella cake. If you’ve been to Japan, you know how popular it is. I’ve tried ordering from online Asian grocery websites, but it never quite tastes the same. It’s much better to make this fresh at home. 

Castella cake

The good news is that this Japanese sponge cake is super easy to make. You will only need five ingredients, and if you’re a fan of honey, you’ll be in heaven! 

What you’ll need:

  • Large eggs
  • Bread flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Honey
  • Water
  • Salt

Try this: Castella Cake Recipe

Matcha Swiss Roll Cake

My grandmother used to put those little chocolate swiss rolls in my lunchbox when I was a kid. Lemme say that, as an adult, they don’t taste nearly as good as they used to! They are too sweet and the artificial flavors are overwhelming (Josh still loves them, though!). 

Matcha swiss roll cake

When I saw the recipe for Matcha Swiss Roll Cake, I knew I had to try it. It’s a type of Japanese sponge cake that is filled with buttercream, whipped cream, and custard cream. Sometimes, people add fruit to the fluffy sponge cake. It’s the matcha flavor, though, that really takes this to the next level! 

What you’ll need:

  • Large eggs
  • Cake flour
  • Baking powder
  • Matcha
  • Sugar
  • Whole milk
  • Heavy cream

Try this: Matcha Swiss Roll Cake

Matcha Basque Cheesecake

If you love cheesecake, then this is a no-brainer. You absolutely MUST try this Matcha Basque Cheesecake! Again, matcha really balances out any sweetness and lends its signature flavor. When you combine this with creamy custard and a gentle taste of caramel, the result is out of this world!

Matcha Basque Cheesecake

My favorite part is that the golden brown (or deep brown) burnt top really keeps everything grounded. It’s a strange description, I know, but once you’ve had it you’ll know exactly what I mean. Sooooo good! 

What you’ll need:

  • Cream cheese
  • Sugar
  • Large eggs 
  • Large egg yolk
  • Matcha 
  • Cake flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Kosher salt/sea salt

Try this: Matcha Basque Cheesecake

Thousand Layer Spice Cake

Despite the name, you won’t actually have to make a thousand layers to enjoy this popular Indonesian cake, but your mouth will think you did! Also called kue lapis legit, Thousand Layer Spice Cake is an adventure for your taste buds!

Indonesian thousand layer cake

The cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves (with a hint of vanilla) create a flavor profile that’s incredibly warm. It perfectly compliments the moist, ridiculously rich butter cake that you’ll need to bake layer by layer. Worth the time investment! 

What you’ll need:

  • Self-raising flour
  • Mixed spice
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter 
  • Condensed milk
  • Large eggs
  • Egg yolks
  • Caster sugar
  • Sponge cake gel/emulsifier 
  • Vanilla extract

Try this: Thousand Layer Spice Cake

Chinese New Year Cake Recipe

The Chinese New Year Sweet Rice Cake, or nian gao, is a staple during Chinese New Year celebrations. It is a symbol of growth and progress, which really is what we all should be striving for as we begin a new year. 

Chinese New Year Cake

It’s a popular gift, so if you’re planning to visit friends or family during the holiday, consider making one. They’ll feel all of the love and good energy you baked into the ingredients, which is much nicer and more meaningful than buying one. This recipe is based on the traditional version, but has been adapted to respectfully incorporate some western elements. 

What you’ll need:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Water 
  • Ginger
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Allspice powder
  • Glutinous rice flour
  • Rice flour
  • Vanilla extract
  • Dark molasses
  • Orange
  • Dried dates

Try it: Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Sweet Rice Cake)

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