Palm Sugar (Gula Melaka) Malay Sponge Cake "Ma Lai Ko"

I am truly a die hard fan of “Ma Lai Ko” or so called malay sponge cake. Usually you can get them with caramel but I usually opt using palm sugar or “gula melaka”. I like using palm sugar because of it’s fragant smell, the unique sweetness and taste. I always though making “Ma Lai Ko” is difficult but in fact is not a difficult thing at all, as Sunny Yaw always say “simple, fast and easy”, and it had proven to be true.

I always remember when I was a wee little kid, my late dad buys them for supper from this dim sum coffee shop next to his office right after his afternoon shift and not forgetting also those lovely egg tart and also those lovely fried noodles. If not mistaken the shop is called “Soon Fatt” right next to Telekom in Ipoh town.

70ml palm sugar
2 large eggs
100gm castor sugar
160gm cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
200ml thick coconut milk

1. Beat egg until bubble then add sugar for 10 minutes (till thick and white)
2. Pour egg mixture into a bowl fold in shifted cake flour and baking soda
3. Blend in palm sugar then the thick coconut milk
4. Cover and rest batter for 20minutes (to get the honeycomb effect)
5. Stir and pour into desire cups or moulds
6. Steam at high flame for 25minutes

I alway find that “Ma Lai Ko” to be eaten and serve while they are soft and warm. This gorgeous “Ma Lai Ko” can be served with ice cream too. Hope you will try this recipe in your own kitchen at your own time and pleasure.

From Sidney


  • East Meets West Kitchen
    November 23, 2007 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Wow! I love your Ma Lai Ko in those beautiful cups! Wish I live closer to you and ‘Soon Fatt’!

  • ~Christine~Leng
    November 23, 2007 - 7:39 pm | Permalink

    very creative idea! Ma lai Ko in chinese tea cups! Cute and… such a nice fusion! Nice wer…. 😉

  • Cynthia
    November 23, 2007 - 7:42 pm | Permalink

    You had me at palm sugar :)

  • durianberry
    November 23, 2007 - 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Oh so adorable! Maybe I can “korek” grandma’s stash for these little tea cups and execute the recipe ;D

  • beachlover
    November 23, 2007 - 10:40 pm | Permalink

    hmmmm…lovely mai lai koh!! very simple recipe,I think I have no problem follow especially I know use 2 large egg no gram!!hahaha!!..Well,can I bake this mai lai koh instead of steam?.

  • Nic (KHKL)
    November 24, 2007 - 2:02 am | Permalink

    never seen ma lai ko in chinese tea cups before! very cute! and yes, i agree that palm sugar makes all the difference..yummy!

  • Precious Pea
    November 24, 2007 - 7:53 am | Permalink

    Those teacups!! So classic!!

  • Little Corner of Mine
    November 24, 2007 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Wow! Look at the dome! Very nice! How many “ma lai ko” does your recipe yield?

  • ai wei
    November 24, 2007 - 8:45 pm | Permalink

    ‘geng’ ler!!! ma lai ko with ice cream. that’s another lovely idea.
    by the way, how many ma lai ko can u make with these amount of ingredients and using chinese tea cups ar?!

  • Cookie baker Lynn
    November 24, 2007 - 8:46 pm | Permalink

    They are so beautiful and round. I love the cups they’re in.

  • Jackson
    November 25, 2007 - 3:00 am | Permalink

    w0w…. i love the mah lai ko in that tea cups!! so traditional!

  • Nora B.
    November 25, 2007 - 4:26 am | Permalink

    Hi Sidney, your cakes look so cute in those cups. I wish I can find gula melaka here. I know it exists, but I haven’t found it yet.

  • daphne
    November 25, 2007 - 5:51 am | Permalink

    wah! I would love to have one..can i?

  • Imbi & Itchy
    November 25, 2007 - 6:07 am | Permalink

    your ma lai kou can beat any cupcakes flat! how unique and cute!

  • I Cook4Fun
    November 25, 2007 - 6:47 pm | Permalink

    wow, your Ma Lai Ko really ‘fatt’ so nicely. I am going to try out your recipe :)

  • Big Boys Oven
    November 25, 2007 - 7:26 pm | Permalink

    hahaha I also wish I stay close to you but I am sure we will get to meet soon! :)

    christine leng:
    I love the mai lai ko a lot, lovely and I decided to give it a refreshing look!

    can you get palm sugar at your place?

    try this recipe, it is easier to make compare to tiramisu. but have them warm, taste better. Re steam them again when they get hard.

    I don’t advice you to bake them. steam them.

    they are very tasty!

    precious pea:
    Shall we go and find these classic tea cups, I know where we can find them and not expensive either.

    if we use those big cups, I think we can get about 8 big cups.

    ai wei:
    i think 8 big tea cups

    do try this recipe, simple fast and easy….you will like it.

    Do try them,come over…lol!

    nora b:
    is there any muslim or malaysia grocery shop, chinese grocery also sells them.

    no problem, if you r in KL give us a thinkle!

    lol! I never thought of that….thank you.

    i cook4fun:
    Do let me know how yours turn out to be!

  • "Joe" who is constantly craving
    November 25, 2007 - 7:26 pm | Permalink

    looks gooood..comfort food..

    but abit hard to eat from the cup?

  • Big Boys Oven
    November 25, 2007 - 7:35 pm | Permalink

    joe: Hahahaha use a teaspoon lar! lol! but as the inner surface of the cup had been glase with soft butter, the ma lai ko can be taken out form the cup easily.

  • wenching & esiong
    November 26, 2007 - 12:19 am | Permalink

    First time seeing ma lai ko in a cup! It looks traditional, so creative of you!

  • KampungboyCitygal
    November 26, 2007 - 1:43 am | Permalink

    those chinese little cuppas are so cute!! nice way to present the ma lai ko

  • guynxtdoor
    November 26, 2007 - 8:19 am | Permalink

    love this blog very very much.

    May i know how do you blend the palm sugar into the mixture since palm sugar is rock hard in a big “ketul”

    Thanks in advance SIFU

  • tigerfish
    November 26, 2007 - 3:20 pm | Permalink

    I thought Ma Lai Ko supposed to be yellow? Maybe that’s the Hong Kong version. I like soft, fluffy Ma Lai Ko just freshly made!

  • Big Boys Oven
    November 26, 2007 - 3:49 pm | Permalink

    have to be a bit creative lar… thanks

    great to know you like the presentation.

    u can buy ready liquid palm sugar that comes in tin. you can get them at “Bagus” easy and fast.

    Usually caramel is being used but I used palm sugar which dark in color therefore the ma lai ko becomes dark brown.

  • teckiee
    November 28, 2007 - 3:25 am | Permalink

    wahhh so round one!?

  • Big Boys Oven
    November 28, 2007 - 3:30 am | Permalink

    looks like hitman right!

  • Terri @ A Daily Obsession
    November 28, 2007 - 5:07 am | Permalink

    oh, i love ma lai go!i ate the best one in hong kong, of all places. thanks for the recipe!n, great blog, gorgeous cakes!

  • _ts
    April 18, 2008 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Hello! We used your recipe to recreate a “warm toffee cake” from a restaurant we go to. The crumb was perfect! However, the cake turned out bitter. I’m thinking it’s because of the baking soda. Hmm, could that be it? Otherwise, I don’t know what went wrong. =(

    P.S. Those macaroons looks so pretty!

  • pau
    May 5, 2010 - 2:45 pm | Permalink

    so your palm sugar is actually already in liquid form?? will it be okay to replace coconut milk with fresh milk and the palm sugar with sugarcane sugar??

  • Dora
    August 21, 2011 - 10:51 pm | Permalink

    tried yr wonderful recipe… And everyone loved it… Can u post a kuih neng koh recipe pls?? I tried but cam out heavy and did not ‘huat’!!!

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