Feng li su, a traditional Taiwanese cake

Feng li su (pineapple cake) is a classic Taiwanese dessert inexplicably intertwined with their culture. They follow a tradition of wishing their nears & dears good fortune by gifting a box of feng li su, especially during their New Year. My husband’s colleagues in Taiwan never missed bringing us a box of feng li su during their visits here. When I first saw these cute little cakes I was of the impression that they can be baked only by a skilful professional, and I did not believe that I could bake them in my kitchen as these gorgeous delicacies pampered our palates with the burst of milky flavour & crumbly texture.

f-d-960x622 Feng li su, a traditional Taiwanese cake
A box of feng li su as a gift for prosperity

As a food blogger, now I grow confident to try the recipe for Taiwanese pineapple cake, and I also feel it is the most appropriate time to post this recipe coinciding with Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day this week.

pac-960x686 Feng li su, a traditional Taiwanese cake
Feng li su

So I browsed through several recipes for feng li su and found some of the recipes using condensed milk & others using milk powder. Finally, I’ve adapted the recipe using milk powder published here as I was very particular about adding the unique milky flavour to my pastry. 

pa-cake-960x1094 Feng li su, a traditional Taiwanese cake
Taiwanese pineapple cake

Feng li su recipe:

There are three parts to this recipe: making pineapple jam, preparing pastry dough and baking pineapple cakes. Pineapple jam & the dough can be made in advance and refrigerated for later use.

pa-1-960x673 Feng li su, a traditional Taiwanese cake
Feng li su recipe

Pineapple jam:

Yields: 300 ml

The actual recipe calls for two teaspoonfuls of lemon juice for adding tangy flavour and recommends sugar & maltose syrup as sweeteners. But the pineapples here are a bit sharp & acidic, so I’ve added jaggery liberally, and it was not required to add the lemon juice. Now let’s prepare the sweet & sour pineapple filling:

Ingredients:
Pineapple (pureed)1 (medium size)
Powdered jaggeryas needed
Butter1/2 tsp
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How to make pineapple jam:

  • Prepare the pineapple by peeling the skin & chop the whole fruit (including the core) roughly.
  • Make a puree by grinding in a mixer-grinder without adding water.
  • Heat a heavy bottom pan with pineapple puree in high flame.
  • When it begins to boil, simmer & cover the pan until soft & shiny.
  • Stir in powdered jaggery until dissolved.
  • Simmer the mixture for few more minutes until well amalgamated.
  • Finally, add butter and mix well.
  • Remove the pan from heat.
  • Store the pineapple jam in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • Refrigerate it for a maximum of 10 days.
pa-jam-960x844 Feng li su, a traditional Taiwanese cake
Pineapple preserve

Pastry dough:

Yields: 15 cakes (12 squares & 3 heart shaped cakes)

The pastry for feng li su is quite different from other pastries, and the flour to butter ratio is 1.5:1. The dough is made soft & sticky even without adding a drop of water. The addition of butter & egg helps add the required moisture, cornflour prevents the cake from breaking apart, and the milk powder lends a beautiful flavor. Since the dough is too sticky to handle, it can be made slightly stiff by refrigerating it for 2-3 hours.

Ingredients:
Unsalted butter (at room temperature)100 grams
Palm sugar (powdered) or castor sugar30 grams
Flour (APF/ maida)100 grams
Milk powder30 grams
Cornflour (corn starch)20 grams
Egg1
Salt*1/8 tsp (a pinch)

*If you are using salted butter, it is not required to add salt.

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Dough making:

Tools/ equipments needed
Kitchen scale
Flour sifter
Mixing bowl
Electric beater
Cling film
  • Add butter & powdered palm sugar into a mixing bowl.
  • First, mix both using a spoon, then cream the butter & sugar using an electric beater by gradually increasing the speed for about 2-3 minutes.
  • When the mixture turns pale, add the egg yolk into the bowl.
  • Combine them using a spoon and then whisk at high speed until fluffy for about 2 minutes.
  • Now sift maida (APF), cornflour, milk powder & salt into a bowl.
  • Add the flour into the buttercream.
  • Blend them nicely at low speed until well incorporated.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Knead the chilled dough gently and roll them into balls according to the size of the moulds.
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Pastry dough

Baking feng li su:

Traditionally square moulds have been used for making feng li su, but we can use moulds or cookie cutters of any shape. First, we need to stuff the pineapple fillings into the pastry dough, then it is placed inside the mould (mainly to take the size & shape of the mould), and then bake both sides for 10 minutes each. 

Things needed for baking feng li su
Baking tray
Parchment paper
Square moulds of size (5×5 / 4×4 cm) or cookie cutter of any shape – 6 or more
Spatula/ a pair of tongs to turn the cake along with its mould
  • Grease all the moulds with butter and keep them aside.
  • Line the baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Preheat the oven to 170 deg C.
  • Stuff a teaspoon of filling inside the dough ball just like our spherical modakam and place the dumpling inside the mould.
  • Gently press & spread it smoothly using the back of a spoon.
  • Similarly, fill the remaining moulds with stuffed pastry.
  • Arrange them in a baking tray leaving little space around each mould.
  • Bake them at 170 deg C for 10 minutes.
  • Turn each mould upside down using a spatula and bake again for 8-10 minutes.
  • Store pineapple cakes in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • Feng li su stays afresh for about five days.
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How to bake feng li su

Cooking tips:

  • It is required to weigh all the dry ingredients using a kitchen scale to make the perfect pastry dough.
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Palm sugar crystals made into powder and weighed
  • If you don’t have square moulds you can make them easily by yourself using cardboard & aluminium foil as shown here.

Variations:

Taiwanese prepare the preserve using winter melons and/or pineapple mainly for the purpose of gifting them in the New Year. Otherwise, we can prepare the preserve using any other fruits like apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, jackfruit bulbs, mango, amla, etc., or the vegetables like red pumpkin, ash gourd, carrot, beetroot, etc. and use it as a filling inside these cakes. 

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Blueberry preserve

I have prepared blueberry jam as shown above and baked a batch of blueberry cakes that will surely tease your taste buds.

bbc-960x584 Feng li su, a traditional Taiwanese cake
Blueberry cake

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