Steamed Cake (Mushi-pan) 蒸しパン

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  • Making these soft, light, spongy Japanese steamed cake (Mushi-pan) is surprisingly easy. You can enjoy them as a healthy breakfast or after-school snack.   Choose savory or sweet based on the ingredients you use.

    3 kinds of steamed cakes placed on a wire rack.

    These treats may look like muffins, but as you might have guessed – they’re not.  We call these Steamed Cakes “Mushi-pan” (蒸しパン) in Japanese.  The biggest difference between these cakes and muffins is that these delicious little treats are steamed instead of baked.

    What is Steamed Cake (Mushi-pan)?

    The Japanese steamed cakes are made with very simple ingredients: flour (all-purpose flour or cake flour), baking powder, eggs, milk, sugar, and neutral-flavored oil (such as vegetable oil).  While Chinese steamed bun called Mantou (饅頭) uses yeast as a leavening agent, Japanese steamed cakes use baking powder.

    After WWII, when a massive amount of wheat flour was imported from the U.S., and the Japanese started to eat more bread – “pan” (パン) in Japanese.  Around the same time, steamed cakes started to appear in Japanese kitchens.  As sugar was expensive back then, the Japanese included small chunks of Japanese sweet potatoes (Satsumaimo) to sweeten the steamed cakes.  These Satsumaimo Steamed Cakes are still the most popular flavor for steamed cakes today.

    3 types of steamed cakes on a cake stand.

    In the late 1980s, convenience stores in Japan started to sell Cheese Mushi-pan (チーズ蒸しパン) and Chocolate Mushi-pan (チョコ蒸しパン) that became really popular.  I remember being addicted to Cheese Mushi-pan.  The savory cheesy flavor was really too hard to resist.

    My homemade steamed cakes are not the same as those Cheese Mushi-pans.  However, homemade steamed cakes are equally delicious and you can play around with various flavors. Unlike store-bought cakes, there are no preservatives and additives.

    These healthy steamed cakes are soft and easy to digest, so they are perfect for small children as well!

    3 kinds of steamed cakes placed on a wire rack.

    3 Reasons To Make Mushi-Pan (Japanese Steamed Cakes)

    1. Quick and easy to make

    This recipe is so quick and easy to make!  Even my children can make them as long as I help with the steaming.  It only takes 20 minutes from start to finish!  Since they’re quick to make, you can make them fresh whenever you want to eat them.

    2. Versatile

    The best part of steamed cakes is that they can be easily changed to either savory or sweet flavor.  My Basic Steamed Cake recipe below is the standard recipe where you can adapt to sweet or savory versions as you please.

    For sweet steamed cakes, you can add vanilla extract.  I didn’t add it so the recipe can be changed to a savory one.  I recommend keeping the sugar for the savory version as a slight sweetness helps to enhance flavor.

    3. Re-steam make it fluffy

    You can store in the freezer for later and re-steam it when you want to eat for a quick snack.  The steamed cakes will be soft and spongy again!

    If you give my Mushi-Pan recipe a try, let me know. I’d love to hear about your variations and results in the comments! 

    3 types of steamed cakes on a cake stand.

    Do you like matcha green tea flavor?  Check out my Green Tea Steamed Cake too!

    Green tea steamed cake on a wooden plate.
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    4.65 from 65 votes
    3 types of steamed cakes on a cake stand.
    Steamed Cake
    Prep Time
    10 mins
    Cook Time
    10 mins
    Total Time
    20 mins
     
    Making these soft, light, spongy Japanese steamed cake (Mushi-pan) is surprisingly easy. You can enjoy them as a healthy breakfast or after-school snack.   Choose savory or sweet based on the ingredients you use.
    Course: Breakfast, Snack
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: steam bun, steamed cupcake
    Servings: 4 steamed cakes
    Author: Nami
    Ingredients
    For Basic Steamed Cake
    • ½ cup all-purpose flour (60 g)
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 Tbsp milk
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
    For Corn & Cheese Steamed Cake:
    • ½ cup all-purpose flour (60 g)
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 Tbsp milk
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
    • ¼ cup corn kernels (40 g)
    • ¼ cup shredded cheese (25 g) (I used sharp cheddar)
    For Double Chocolate Steamed Cake:
    • ½ cup all-purpose flour (60 g)
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (7 g)
    • 1 large egg
    • 3 Tbsp milk
    • 2 Tbsp sugar
    • 2 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
    • 2 Tbsp chocolate chips (25 g)
    Instructions
    1. Cover the lid with kitchen towel to prevent condensation from the lid from falling on to the steamed cakes (please don’t skip!).  Fill a large frying pan with water about ½ inch (1.3 cm) deep. Cover the pan with the lid and slowly bring water to boil. 

      Steamed Cake NEW 1
    For Basic Steamed Cake
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Steamed Cake NEW 2
    2. In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour and baking powder and whisk well to combine (shortcut for sifting).
      Steamed Cake NEW 3
    3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, milk, sugar, and vegetable oil together until combined.
      Steamed Cake NEW 4
    4. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until smooth.
      Steamed Cake NEW 5
    5. Put a cupcake liner in glass ramekins and divide the batter into the cupcake liners.
      Steamed Cake NEW 6
    6. Place the glass ramekins in the boiling water and cook covered on the lowest heat for 8 minutes.
      Steamed Cake NEW 7
    7. They're done when a skewer inserted comes out clean without wet batter. Turn off the heat and remove the ramekins from the pan and let them cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
      Steamed Cake NEW 8
    For Corn & Cheese Steamed Cake
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Steamed Cake NEW 9
    2. In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour and baking powder and whisk well to combine (shortcut for sifting).
      Steamed Cake NEW 3
    3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, milk, sugar, and vegetable oil together until combined.
      Steamed Cake NEW 4
    4. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until smooth.
      Steamed Cake NEW 5
    5. Add corn and cheese and mix until combined. Put a cupcake liner in glass ramekins and divide the batter into the cupcake liners.
      Steamed Cake NEW 10
    6. Place the glass ramekins in the boiling water and cook covered on the lowest heat for 12-13 minutes. They're done when a skewer inserted comes out clean without wet batter.
      Steamed Cake NEW 11
    7. Turn off the heat and remove the ramekins from the pan and let them cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
      Steamed Cake NEW 12
    For Double Chocolate Steamed Cake
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Steamed Cake NEW 13
    2. In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, and whisk well to combine (shortcut for sifting).
      Steamed Cake NEW 14
    3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, milk, sugar, and vegetable oil together until combined.
      Steamed Cake NEW 15
    4. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until smooth.
      Steamed Cake NEW 16
    5. Add chocolate chips and mix until combined. Put a cupcake liner in glass ramekins and divide the batter into the cupcake liners.
      Steamed Cake NEW 17
    6. Place the glass ramekins in the boiling water and cook covered on the lowest heat for 8 minutes. They're done when a skewer inserted comes out clean without wet batter. They're done when a skewer inserted comes out clean without wet batter. Turn off the heat and remove the ramekins from the pan and let them cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
      Steamed Cake NEW 18
    Recipe Notes

     

    Glass ramekins: You can use these ramekins to make (steamed) Custard Pudding!

     

     
    Equipment you will need:
    • A large frying pan with lid that can fit 4 ramekins
    • Kitchen towel that is big enough to cover the lid
    • 4 cupcake liners
    • 4 6 oz glass ramekins

     

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

    Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 4, 2011. The new images were added in April 2017.

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