Taro Cake 芋頭蛋糕

My favourite cake is actually taro cake. It was what I grew up with. Whenever there was a birthday in the family (by family, I am including family friends – friends of my parents who I refer to aunts and uncles), we always had taro cake from Chinese bakeries. I also found that cake from Chinese Bakery was generally less sweet. I liked them better.

At a friend’s recent birthday, we had ube cake. In my mind, I’d always grouped those two together – ube & taro. I hadn’t realized there was a difference.

What is the difference between ube and taro?

Ube 香芋 – is a purple yam, widely used in desserts. It has this nice, aromatic flavour. Hence, the 香 xiang1 in its Chinese name. I can’t really describe the flavour accurately, but it tastes sweeter to me than taro. For more information, refer to the Wikipedia entry for Ube.

Taro 芋頭 – is also a root vegetable. Its favour is mild, and in Taiwanese cuisine, it’s used in hot pot (fried taro), fried as taro balls, made into filling for buns, or taro chips.

This Chinese Wikipedia page helps explain the difference.

This recipe is adapted from 芋頭蛋糕(分蛋海綿).

I couldn’t find any ube/taro flavouring/powder, so I used this instead:

It worked pretty well. I knew that the powder would be sweet to begin with, so I reduced the sugar in the recipe.

For the sponge cake:
5 eggs
6 tbsp cake flour
5 tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp white vinegar

For the filling:
1 pack of taro bubble tea powder (see above) – about half for the filling, half for the icing
1 medium size taro – peeled and cut into chunks
1-1/2 tbsp butter
8 tbsp of sugar – you can add more if you like a sweeter filling
milk (add some moisture to your mixture so it’s less chunky, and more like mashed potato consistency)

I used an 8-inch cake pan for this.


  1. Steam the taro – I used my awesome steamer and added about 2 cup of water into the “outer” pot. Make sure the taro is soft enough to mash.
  2. Mash the taro. I used my potato masher, it worked very well. While mashing, add the butter, sugar, taro powder, and milk.
  3. Grease and flour the baking pan. Set aside. *I normally use shortening to grease pans because the shortening doesn’t burn and does the trick.
  4. Separate the egg whites and egg yolks into two medium bowls.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and about half of the sugar to the egg yolks. Beat the mixture until it becomes very light, pastel yellow in colour. Then mix in the milk and canola oil.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius or 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Mix the cake flour and corn starch together in a separate bowl.
  8. Add the white vinegar to the egg whites. Beat the mixture while gradually adding the rest of the sugar, until stiff peaks form.
  9. Combine the egg yolk and egg white mixture. Add in the flour mixture and quickly mix together.
  10. Pour into cake pan, shake the pan a little to let out big air bubbles, and bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Cut the cake into three layers, insert filling between the layers. Now it’s ready for icing and decorating!

My cake was not completely even. The solution: icing!

For the icing, I used the recipe from https://tomorrowswisdom.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/chocolate-cake-made-with-avocado and added a bit of the taro bubble tea powder.



  1. Rumor has it that a chinese bakery should be opening up next to the grocery downtown. That would be so awesome! I’m used to having chinese-style cake on my birthday, too, and it would be something I’d want my children to experience.

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