Not yet rated

These pumpkin cakes from Chinese-ish have a crunchy, sesame-coated outside and a sweet and gooey pumpkin-filled centre. They only need 5 ingredients to make, and come together very quickly. Make sure to use glutinous rice flour and not regular rice flour though, otherwise the dough won't work.

This recipe is taken from Chinese-Ish by Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu (Murdoch Books, £22). Photography by Armelle Habib.

First published in 2023

Joanna says: 'I am perhaps the more vocal hater of Asian desserts. The flavours are often too sweet, not sweet enough, or just plain unappetising (Like, why is red bean so prevalent?). As David Chang says in his podcast called Leftovers, School Lunches, Dining Solo, and MSG Popcorn: ‘Don’t get me started about red bean. Of all the f*cking things we had to get wrong in Asian cuisine, it’s red bean. We couldn’t have figured out chocolate or butter ...’

Then there’s the textural aspect: At the end of the meal at yum cha, there just seems to be an endless stream of wobbly puddings, custards and jellies. Luckily, the deep-fryer arrives to save the day.

Pumpkin cakes are that perfect mix of crunchy outer shell and sweet, slightly doughy centre. The glutinous rice flour adds a yielding bite and elasticity, and the sesame seed coating makes things even more moreish, or as we say in Chinese, 香.'




  • 300g of pumpkin, (about 1 small pumpkin), peeled, deseeded and cut into thin, even slices
  • 2 tbsp of icing sugar
  • 200g of glutinous rice flour
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 75g of white sesame seeds



Place the pumpkin in a microwave-safe container and cook on high for 8 minutes, until very soft. Alternatively, you could steam the pumpkin for 25–30 minutes, until very soft. Drain any excess water from the flesh, place in a blender and blend into a puree. Add the icing sugar, adjust for your desired level of sweetness and blend once more

  • 300g of pumpkin, (about 1 small pumpkin), peeled, deseeded and cut into thin, even slices
  • 2 tbsp of icing sugar

Transfer the pumpkin puree to a bowl and add the glutinous rice flour in increments, working the mixture into a dry dough with your hands. You may need to add more flour depending on the water content of your pumpkin. The dough shouldn’t stick to your hands

  • 200g of glutinous rice flour

In a wok or heavy-based pan, heat the oil to 160°C, using a food thermometer to check the temperature

  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying

To make the cakes, roll the pumpkin dough into balls about the size of a ping pong, then flatten each into a 1.5 cm disc. Lightly dampen the surface of each cake with a little water and coat with sesame seeds. Working in batches, gently slide the cakes into the hot oil and fry until golden-brown, about 5–6 minutes


After all the cakes have been fried once, fry them a second time for about 20 seconds to form a lasting crispy shell. Set aside to cool briefly before serving

First published in 2023

Rosheen Kaul is the head chef at Etta in Melbourne while Joanne Hu is an illustrator. Both Rosheen and Joanna have Chinese heritage but moved to Australia as children, and this inspired them to write and release their proudly inauthentic cookbook Chinese-ish in 2022.

Get in touch

Please sign in or register to send a comment to Great British Chefs.