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Deep-Fried, Red Bean-Filled Pumpkin Cakes Fit for a Kitchen God

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Tra-la-la, it's The Fall Cookbook Cake Parade: a new cake from a new cookbook every single day. Are your costumes cake pans ready?

Today: These red bean-filled, deep-fried, crispy-gooey pumpkin cakes from Land of Fish and Rice by Fuchsia Dulop have nothing to do with Halloween.

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Fuchsia Dunlop's Pumpkin Cakes (Nan Gua Bing)
Fuchsia Dunlop's Pumpkin Cakes (Nan Gua Bing)

Welcome, pumpkin cakes that have no cinnamon, no nutmeg, no ground ginger (and nothing to do with Halloween or Thanksgiving or spiced lattes).

These pumpkin cakes are actually deep-fried, individually-sized dumplings, soft and smooshy on the inside from glutinous rice flour and red bean paste, crisp and bubbled on the outside.

And—as cook and food writer Fuchsia Dunlop explains in Land of Fish and Rice, her culinary exploration of China's Jiangnan region immediately south of the Yangtze River—they're good enough to bribe a god:

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The Kitchen God (Zao Jun) is the watchman of the Chinese family. Once a year, he reports on their behavior to the Jade Emperor in Heaven, who then decides whether they deserve reward or punishment. To bribe him, family members traditionally make offerings on the twenty-third of the last lunar month of the year, the day of his departure. They light candles and incense before his shrine, burn paper money and, most importantly, give him sweet and sticky things to eat, to seal his lips or, failing that, to sweeten his words.

These gorgeous little pumpkin cakes would do the job perfectly. They are crunchy and golden on the outside, soft and sticky within, with a rich, sweet stuffing.

These "cakes" have only five ingredients, and if you can't find glutinous rice flour or red bean paste in a local international store, they're available online.

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Fuchsia Dunlop's Pumpkin Cakes (Nan Gua Bing)

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Serves 8
  • 5 ounces (150 grams) red bean paste
  • 1 3/4 cups (275 grams) glutinous rice flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 pound (500 grams) pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar, or to taste
  • Cooking oil for deep- frying, plus 2 teaspoons

Reprinted from Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China by Fuchsia Dunlop with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.


See more of our Fall Cookbook Cake Parade