How to Make Hong Kong Egg Cakes (鷄蛋仔)

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Hong Kong egg cakes are a popular street food in Hong Kong.  I first came across these little egg cake as a child growing up in New York City’s Chinatown. From a tiny red stall on Mosco Street, Cecilia Tam churned out pan after pan of these perfectly fluffy and heavenly eggettes for over a decade.  This recipe is as satisfying for me as the Cecilia Tam original.

(Also known as Hong Kong egg waffles, Hong Kong egg puffs, or Hong Kong eggettes.)

Hong Kong Egg Cakes (Gai Daan Jai) - or Egg Waffles
Hong Kong Egg Cakes (Gai Daan Jai) – or Egg Waffles

I’ve been reminiscing about my childhood in New York’s Chinatown where I attended Chinese school every weekend. After class, mom or dad would walk me over to Mosco Street, where Cecilia Tam (aka the Egg Cake Lady) labored in a tiny red corner stall, to buy a bag or two of her legendary Chinese egg puffs (aka eggettes) or 鷄蛋仔 – “gai daan jai” in Cantonese.

Her stall became so popular over the years that there were often more tourists than regulars waiting in line at this “hidden gem”, clutching their cameras and tour books. On weekends, the line would snake around the corner and the wait could be 10-20 minutes or longer.



 

Here little stall barely fit one person but on busy weekends she would squeeze in a helper to bag and man the extra burners.

Her egg cake mold was a simple metal contraption shaped like two identical tennis rackets and functioned like a square waffle maker but the indentations were egg shaped. And the batter contained eggs – hence why they are called egg waffles.

The egg waffle batter was a glorious golden color and she kept large jugs of it by her feet. She would brush each egg cake mold with oil, pour batter onto one mold, put the matching mold over the batter-filled one and quickly flip the pair so that the batter would fill the other mold and start expanding into perfect little round morsels.

Hong Kong Egg Cakes (Gai Daan Jai) aka Hong Kong Egg Waffles, Hong Kong Eggettes, Hong Kong Egg Puffs

I remember her easing the cakes out of the mold with a fork onto a round and scratched up stainless steel pan and how she would jab at the eggettes with steel tongs to separate them and place them into wax-paper bags. She had everything down to timing and order.

Weekends she was always slammed. Weekdays the wait would be nil or only 1-2 people. On slow days, she would have a few waxy bags of egg cakes already filled. They are best eaten hot off the stove so I always asked, and patiently waited, for fresh ones and she always obliged.

With her increasing popularity, and inflation, the price of her egg cakes kept going up throughout the years. So we enjoyed them in less quantities, but we still enjoyed them as often.

At first, her Chinese eggettes were $1 for 20 egg puffs, then $1 for 18, then $1 for 15. Even when imitators popped up around Chinatown selling them at $1 for 20 when Cecilia had further reduced her offerings to $1 for 12, the impostors were not worth paying for the extra portions.

Hong Kong Egg Cake Pan
My Egg Waffle Pan from Nordic Ware

Once, pressed for time, we bought some Chinese egg cakes off a street vendor on Canal Street. They were so bland, so disappointing, I vowed I would never buy them from anyone again but from Cecilia, the one and only Egg Cake Lady.

As a kid, I had a special way of eating them. I would first bite off the crispy, crunchy perimeter of each puff and then pop the soft rounds into my mouth. They were perfect in every way – not too sweet, so light, so fluffy, and so worth every dollar.

She closed up shop more than a two decades ago but I have never stopped thinking about her egg cakes when I pass by her little corner where Mott Street meets Mosco.

Williams-Sonoma sold a Nordic Ware Egg Waffle Pan for a while and I was probably one of the first to buy it.

The store no longer stocks the pan but you can find a similar one on Amazon US here or search on Amazon UK here.

Hong Kong Egg Waffle Pan from Williams Sonoma by Nordic Ware
Egg Waffle Pan from Nordic Ware

How to Make Hong Kong Egg Cakes

First, make the batter. Then preheat your egg waffle pan.

It took some practice to get consistently crispy edges on my electric stovetop. Here’s what works for me:

  1. Pre-heat the pans for 5 minutes using heat level 4 (my stovetop has heat settings 0 to 6). So I used two burners to preheat both halves at the same time.
  2. Pour 2/3 cups batter into one of the egg waffle pans, swirl it around to fill some of the empty holes and then secure the other pan on top. Flip immediately.
  3. Reduce heat to level 3 immediately after pouring the batter and cook two minutes.
  4. Flip the egg waffle pan after two minutes
  5. Remove from heat and ease the eggettes off the pan using a wooden fork or silicone utensil (be careful as a plastic utensil will melt and a metal one will scracth the non-stick surface of the egg waffle pan).

Just before I pour the batter into the Nordic Ware egg waffle pan, I apply a thin layer of vegetable oil with a pastry brush.

UPDATE 5/25/2020: I now use cooking spray like PAM and lightly spray each side before pouring the batter. I had avoided doing this in the past because I read that cooking sprays cause oil build-up on non-stick surfaces that are impossible to wash off. After owning my pan for 15+ years, I was ready to test that theory out. For the last 5 batches, I have been using cooking spray and afterwards immediately soaking the pans in hot soapy water and washing them. The pan is easy to clean and no sticky residue. So far, so good!
But be sure to test out a small section of your pan first – I don’t want you to ruin yours!

So it would seem that for my oven, heating it at a higher temperature helped create the crispy crunchy edges that I love and then reducing the temperature down a notch prevented burning. You’ll have to experiment with your gas or electric oven to find the equivalent settings.

You can hear from my video below how crunchy these are on the edges. My kids and I cannot stop eating them:

The texture is perfect – crunchy around the edges and I love nibbling all the crispy bits that surround each puff before moving on to the soft middle – and with each bite, I am transported back in time, smiling at nostalgic memories.

I’m sure time erodes taste memories, but I really do feel that this recipe resembles what I remember from my childhood days.

If you own one of these pans, be sure to wash it when it’s submerged under water so that you don’t end up a soaking mess like I did and a soft-bristle brush like this Oxo one works great for getting out all the dried-up batter from the crevices.

Hong Kong Egg Waffles aka Hong Kong Egg Puffs or Hong Kong Eggettes

If you enjoyed making this recipe, then also check out my tutorials for making Ramen Noodles (the no-knead easy way), Chinese egg noodles, and for making silky-smooth slurp-worthy Udon Noodles (using a non-traditional ingredient).


How to Make Your Chinese Egg Cakes Even Better!

Soon after buying the Nordic Ware egg waffle pan, I started experimenting with the batter. Initially, I made a batch of Chinese eggettes using fresh custard (made from milk and eggs). But the taste and consistency wasn’t right.

Now I use custard powder and just throw everything into my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, turn it on and voila! Batter done. No need to heat up milk nor temper eggs to make custard, etc., etc.

A few weeks back, I whipped up a couple batches to experiment with altering the ingredients and found that using either tapioca starch, potato starch, corn starch or custard powder worked just fine. However, using custard powder did give the eggettes a richer vanilla taste since custard powder is essentially vanilla-flavored corn starch.

For those experiments that didn’t use custard powder, I doubled the amount of vanilla extract (or essence) from one teaspoon to two teaspoons.



 

I think an essential ingredient for the batter to taste right is evaporated milk. I had never used evaporated milk before and I was curious to try the different brands. I decided to try a few of them…just for fun. And was glad that I did.

Evaporated Milk

The best tasting batch I found was made using Rainbow “Gold.” I think it gave the eggettes a richer, fuller flavor. Even the label reads: “Richer and Creamier.” Unfortunately, Rainbow Gold is no longer available.

Evaporated Milk - Arabic

I tried omitting vegetable oil from the batter but that wasn’t a huge success as the final product came out too dry. So be sure not to leave out the oil.

I also made batches pitting vanilla extract versus vanilla essence. Perhaps it was all in my mind or I’m just biased in thinking that anything with alcohol tastes better because I thought the batch with vanilla extract tasted better than the one with vanilla essence. (Click here for alcohol-free vanilla extract.)

However, vanilla extract is not available in the UAE as it contains alcohol. I have a precious stash of two bottles that I hope will last me until the next out-of-town visitor arrives to replenish it.

Vanilla Extract versus Essence

I hope you found this post useful and that the future brings you lot of yummy little morsels of Hong Kong Egg Cakes!

Also check out my tutorials for making Ramen Noodles (the no-knead easy way), Chinese egg noodles, and for making silky-smooth slurp-worthy Udon Noodles (using a non-traditional ingredient).

WS and egg cakes
Thanks for the Egg Puffs, Mama. See Ya!

Hong Kong Egg Waffles aka Hong Kong Egg Puffs or Hong Kong Eggettes

Hong Kong Egg Cakes (Gai Daan Jai – 鷄蛋仔)

Ginger and Scotch
A popular street food in Hong Kong, I first came across these little egg cakes as a child growing up in New York City’s Chinatown. From a tiny red stall on Mosco Street, Cecilia Tam churned out pan after pan of these eggettes for over a decade but when she closed up shop, she left many die-hard followers forever craving her perfectly fluffy and heavenly egg cakes. This recipe is as satisfying for me as the Cecilia Tam original.
4.88 from 39 votes
Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Snack
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 people
Calories 365 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (4 oz or 120 g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon tapioca starch (or corn starch)
  • 1 tablespoon custard powder (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar (4 oz or 120 g)
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 5 oz water
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla essence)
  • more vegetable oil for brushing/spraying on the egg waffle pan

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, tapioca or corn starch, and optional custard powder with a spoon or fork. You can also sieve these dry ingredients but I didn’t bother.
  • Add the eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract/essence. Give it a whirl with an electric mixer (start at low speed so the flour doesn't erupt out of the bowl and increase to medium speed) or spatula. Alternatively, mix by hand with a wire whisk.
  • Pour in the evaporated milk and water. Mix thoroughly.
  • It may be slightly lumpy and this point and I found that letting it stand for an hour (whether in room temperature or fridge) helped dissolve the lumps.
  • Set a wire rack on a baking sheet or large plate.
  • Pre-heat each half of the Nordic Ware Egg Waffle Pan on separate burners over medium-high heat until hot. I pre-heated mine for 5 minutes.
  • Lightly brush or spritz each pan with vegetable oil. Lower heat to medium.
  • Pour ¾ cup of the batter into the middle of the egg waffle pan (if you pour too much, it will either leak out the side or prevent the waffle pan from closing tightly) and give the pan a quick swirl to distribute some of the batter to the outer holes.
  • Immediately place the other side of the pan on top, flip the pan over and cook for 2 to 2.5 minutes.
  • Flip again and cook for a further 2 to 2.5 minutes. Exact timing will depend on your stove and heat output.
  • Open the pan and invert the eggettes onto the wire rack and let cool for a minute or so. I used a plastic fork to help loosen the egg cakes from the mold.
  • Repeat with the remaining batter. Enjoy!

Notes

-Egg Waffle Pan can be purchased here.
-Makes 2 cups of batter and 3 batches of eggettes.
Keyword chinese egg cakes, chinese egg waffles, chinese snack, egg cakes, egg waffles, eggettes, street food

This post was originally posted on Jan. 22, 2012 and last updated on May 28, 2020.

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Recipe Rating




105 Comments

  1. This recipe is amazing. It’s perfect.
    We just got back from HK and even before we left China I ordered the iron to make them when we got home. I looked at a few recipes and settled on yours and it’s honesty spot on. Thank you! PS I got the electric iron and it’ worked great.

  2. I made these in a belgian waffle iron with regular milk and I was a little short on vanilla and it still turned out fantastic! I haven’t had the real thing before so I don’t know how close they are but I’m more than happy with this recipe. Thank you for sharing the rexipe and your story!

  3. Hi Ginger.
    I tried making these fun egg puff but my ‘edge’ is quite thick and it’s not crispy and thin. Any suggestion on why that is. Thanks a bunch

  4. Hi! I just wanted to leave a comment to let you know how much we enjoy these! In fact, I have been making these every Chinese New Year for the past few years for my children’s classes. We do a little presentation on Chinese New Year, and then we make these egg cakes in class using a cake ball machine! I’ve got three children, ages 13, 11 and 8, and I’ve been making them for the past 4 years for 25-30 kids per classroom. Let’s just say that there are a LOT of children who absolutely adore these 🙂

    Thank you so much for a great recipe and Happy Lunar New Year to you and your family.

    1. Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a wonderful comment like this. I’m so happy to hear about your annual tradition and about all the children who experienced these egg cakes over the years. If only I could insert a million smiley emojis!

  5. I know this was posted quite some time ago, but I am only discovering it now. I feel like Percival finding the holy grail. My brother and I would wait on looooooong lines that ran waaaaaaay down the block (even in the dead of winter) to get these amazing egg cakes from this very same vendor. I was starting to think I’d dreamed her up! I cannot even thank you enough for this posting this. I wonder what happened to this genius woman who made these scrumptious treats…

    1. The wait was totally worth it, wasn’t it? I wonder what happened to her too. She keeps a low profile. I would love to one day meet her or someone who knows her…

      1. Oh wow. Just found this from a search trying to figure out what those snacks from my childhood were. My sister and father only ever called them Hong Kong cakes. So googling up information on it was hard. Even to be sure that I had found what I was looking for was a challenge. But to read your description of the Mosco St vendor was to know I struck gold. And, after all these years, to learn her name!

        Thank you so very much.

  6. OMG GINGER!!! When i say you gave me back a very precious memory from my teenhood, I’m telling you it’s the truth! I lived on Catherine Street with my family for about 2 years and I used to go over toward Canal Street to explore. When I found that stand with the egg cakes, it changed my world!!!! I loved them soooo much and I was just telling my coworkers about it and Googled it. Your blog came up and when you mentioned the red cart, it was like, “FInally someone knows EXACTLY where I have been!” Thank you for the recipe and the link for the pan. I will be buying all of the ingredients and making my own very soon! Thank you very much for the memories!!!

  7. Anyone….
    Help me solve my problem please.
    I have tried this recipes and I got perfect eggettes but How to make this eggettes with 340 g of flour?

  8. OMG how adorable is your baby!!! and i love these egg cakes, they call them bubble cakes here

  9. Hi Ginger, thank you for posting and sharing your photos. I grew up in HK and now living in UK. I missed these egg waffles very much. A friend of mine in NYC recently told me about the egg waffle pans and got me one!

    Very excited and tried your receipe but they turned out flat on both sides, like there were deflated! They were quite round while cooking. Do you know why?

    One thing I wasn’t sure when I was cooking them was the batter kept expanding in the pan and do I need to both sides shut as tight as possible or do I leave it alone on the stove?

    They tasted good though!! Very similar taste to the HK ones.

    P.S. you should go to hk to them too!

    1. Usually when my cakes don’t rise, I get asked if I used expired raising agents – which in this case would be the baking powder. Check to see if the baking powder has been sitting in your cupboard for while and see if using a fresh batch makes any difference.

      I still haven’t made it to HK but hoping to do so soon!

  10. Hi! I was so excited to try this recipe when I first found it forever ago, and I’m glad it’s just as tasty as you describe it! Reminds me of the egg puffs I used to buy from Chinatown all the time.
    Problem is, I’m now in college and sadly without my precious egg waffle pan. Do you think the recipe would turn out as well in a cake pop pan?

  11. i would very much like to try this recipe but I don’t have the egg waffle mould. Can I just use the regular waffle maker instead? Thanks.

      1. I tried your recipe this morning using an electric waffle maker. It was missing the fluffiness found when using the egg shape mold. The grids in the waffles make it more dense but it was still good. The taste was on point. Everybody in the family approved, from my kids to my parents and everyone in the family who grew up eating them from Mosco Street.

  12. Thank you so much for the recipe! Just got my pan at WS and was looking for a good recipe, made 3 batches for a party, they came out delicious! The only thing I changed was coconut flour instead of custard powder (just don’t like artificial anything), came out perfect, I was even able to roll them up into tubes when hot.;-)

  13. These are amazing! Thanks so much for the recipe. My husband loveses egg puffs and used to get them from “Quickly” but we were always wary about what was going into them. We tried the recipe with almond meal and that was ok…but not the same….when we did half almond meal and half white flour they were delicious. Also I made a batch with one cut up banana and a dash of almond extract which were the best so far. We use 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar and I don’t have custard powder so we haven’t tried that yet. That’s next on the list. Also I imagine if you substitute apple sauce for the vegetable oil to be extra healthy it would work too. Thanks again to ginger for sharing.

  14. This is a great recipe! It reminds me a lot of the cakes made by the lady on Mosco st in New York!!! Thank you so much!

  15. Thanks so much for posting your recipe. Do you know how the waffles would turn out if heart healthy substitutes were used–almond meal, egg beaters, Splenda, skim milk, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter in lieu of flour, eggs, sugar, evaporated milk, and vegetable oil? Would appreciate any insights from anyone who may have experimented.

  16. Hi just want to say a huge THAAAANKS for this post!! I’ve been searching for a while (years) for this recipe and for the waffle iron!! It’s one of my childhood favourites and I would have to wait every few years before I get to go back over to Hong kong to eat them again!! So will definitely be trying this out!! Thanks soooo much!! Beyond ecstatic!!

  17. I made these eggettes yesterday morning following your recipe exactly, and using the same wonderful Williams Sonoma Nordic Ware egg waffle pan. They were so delicious – the first bite took me right back to my childhood, smelling those cakes from afar and then wandering down the streets of Chinatown in NYC trying to find the stall that sold them. My husband raved about them too. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe, and congrats to you and your family on your imminent new arrival!

  18. The eggettes I remember from my childhood in Hong Kong were hollow on the inside instead of spongy. I’m wondering if anyone has found a way to replicate that texture?