Koreans often make baekseolgi-tteok to celebrate a baby’s 3 week birthday (saei rye in Korean) or any child’s birthday, but it’s most often traditionally prepared to celebrate a baby’s 100 day birthday (baek il in Korean). The white cake represents purity and perfection and is attained by using fluffy steamed white rice flour and a few other ingredients: sugar, kosher salt, and water.
Everybody at the party gives the baby good wishes on his or her 100 day birthday. They might say: “I hope you grow up to be always healthy, pure, and happy!”
This rice cake was meant to be shared with many people because it’s believed that the more people who share it, the longer life the baby will have.
If you’ve already made my mujigae-tteok (rainbow rice cake), I think making baekseolgi-tteok may be too simple for you. I added some dried fruits and sliced almonds to this rice cake to make it more tasty and colorful, but if you want to make it in the traditional Korean style, leave them out.
Let me know if you make this for your lovely family members, friends, babies, your parents, or even your co-workers! Impress me and my other readers.
A note about short grain rice flour: the flour you buy at your local store or the flour you make may have more or less moisture in it than the rice flour I use in this recipe. This is because of many different things like how long it’s been in the freezer in the store, or the atmospheric conditions where you live. You may need to add more or less water, depending on how dry or wet your short grain rice flour is.
- 4 cups and 1 TBS rice flour (made from short grain rice)
- 1 ts kosher salt
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- dried colorful fruits and nuts if desired : raisins, golden raisins, papaya or apricot (sliced), cranberries, and almonds (sliced or chopped)
Steamer, sifter, 8 inch (20 cm) cake ring
- Thaw out the package of frozen rice flour and put it into a large bowl.
- Add water and salt. Mix it all up and press out any wet lumps by rubbing the lumps gently between your palms. Repeat until all the lumps are broken and the rice flour is uniformly wet.
- Sift the rice flour twice, then add sugar and sift once more.
- Add 10 cups of water to the bottom of a steamer and bring to a boil.
- When the water boils, place a wet cloth or cheese cloth over the rack and put the cake ring on top. Put the sifted rice flour into the ring and flatten it out so the mixture sits level.
*tip: a business card works well for this
- Add colorful dried fruits and nuts on top, if you want them. The traditional Korean style doesn’t use them, but you can add them if you like.
- Cover the cake with the cloth and steam over high heat for 30 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and open the lid. Uncover the cake and carefully lift it out using the sides of the cloth. Place it on a plate or cakeboard.
- Wait a few minutes for it to cool down before gently pulling the cloth out and removing the cake ring from the cake.
- Serve with tea, coffee, or milk.
Freeze any leftover rice cake: if you freeze it when it’s still fresh and fluffy, it will still be chewy and fluffy when it’s thawed out. Cut the rice cake into individual servings and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Put the pieces into a plastic bag and keep that in the freezer. Thaw it out at room temperature before serving, or reheat it in a steamer or microwave oven.
If you can’t find frozen rice flour in a Korean grocery store, you can make rice flour it at home:
- Rinse and drain some short grain rice a couple of times and soak overnight (10-12 hours).
- Drain the water and grind the rice very finely. Use it right away, or immediately store in the freezer.