My mum used to/still does buy these cute round little yellow (not natural cake-type yellow. I mean Spongebob-style yellow) cakes from the freezer section of Kamman, the Asian food store. They're called ma lai gao (马来糕). It literally means "Malaysian cake", and for a cake so small, I wonder how it's so succulent (yes, out of all words, I believe that "succulent" is the most accurate adjective). All you have to do is stick them in a microwave for a few seconds, and they end up so spongy and chewy and pillowy.
When browsing through food blogs, I found a recipe for ma lai gao, and I tried it out today. Since I didn't have white flour with me, I used 100% whole wheat flour (whoo!). Evidently, it didn't end up looking Spongebob-yellow. It didn't taste much like the store-bought one either. It was much more buttery and had irregular air bubbles. The store-bought version had perfectly uniform batter, and has a really distinct taste that I couldn't replicate in this version.
This version is still amazing though, but I really wish that I could copy the store-bought version instead, even though I think it used shortening and other random stuff (I'll check next time). The whole point of making the ma lai gao from scratch was so that we'd never have to buy plastic-covered, made-six-months-ago ma lai gao from Kamman anymore!
Unfortunately, since I'm now back in Philadelphia, I won't have access to a steamer, brown sugar, or my tasters (my brother and sister, since they're the ones who eat the ma lai gao), so I guess I'll have to wait until August.
However, this is the quest I've been waiting for! I'm gonna replicate the store-bought ma lai gao!