Xizhou Food Guide / Huajuan

Huajuan is a Chinese steamed roll that is named after its shape; “flower twist.” The dough itself is plain – just water, flour, yeast, and a touch of sugar – but sometimes it can be rolled with other ingredients such as brown sugar or minced meat.

Plain huajuan

I like to affectionately think of the sweet huajuan as the Chinese cinnamon roll. They are essentially the same thing: a sheet of yeast-leavened dough rolled with sugar. The only difference is that huajuan is steamed, and missing cream cheese frosting.

Otherwise, it is the same idea: a gooey, warm, sweet, sticky roll!


Recipe // Rose Coffee Cake

The first time I tested this coffee cake in the office, everyone was confused. “Where is the coffee flavor?” “You used coffee?”

Add this to the list of baked good names that don’t translate well.

Immediately after trying this cake, my coworker exclaimed that she would have to grab her cup of pu’er tea. Call it coffee cake, pu’er tea cake, milk cake… grab your drink of choice and enjoy a thick slice. This cake is perfect with anything. A tender buttery cake, with plenty of brown sugar crumbs.

I added rose petals on top and throughout to add a pop of color and an interesting, subtle flavor. I’ve always hated those recipes that call for some really obscure ingredient – like rose petals – so feel free to omit or replace the petals. You can try adding jam to the inside layer, or sprinkling ground pu’er tea on instead.

Coffee Cake

Makes one 9×9 inch cake


½ c butter, softened
¾ c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
¾ c milk

½ c butter, softened
2 tbsp cinnamon
¾ c flour
1 c packed brown sugar
¼ c rose petals


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9×9 inch baking pan.
  2. With a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, scraping down the sides occasionally. Add the vanilla and egg, mix in.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add one half of it to the mixer, and when mostly combined, add the milk. Once the milk is mostly incorporated, add the rest of the flour.
  4. To make filling: in a small bowl, pinch together the softened butter, flour, sugar and cinnamon until soft crumbs form. Add about 1/2 of the rose petals.
  5. Pour in ½ of cake batter into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle ½ the filling over top, then pour in remaining cake batter, and spread carefully across the top, disturbing the filling layer as little as possible. Sprinkle the filling over the top.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Sprinkle the remaining rose petals over the top. Enjoy!

Link Roundup / August

Different flavors of brown sugar in the morning market

Is it weird that I actually really like this vintage clothing line from KFC? This is a great marketing stunt; getting people to pay to advertise fried chicken. The only thing I don’t understand this $20,000 meteorite.

Is it really possible for a product line to be brandless?

I love reading cookbooks. “Recipes have a story arc. You need to get through the tricky early prepping stages via the complications of heat and measuring before you arrive at the point of happy closure”

There are a lot of challenging recipes I want to tackle when I get back to a full, Western kitchen in the US, and this is definitely one.

Seattle Creative Brunch: anyone in the Seattle area can sign up for a brunch with a random group of creative people. I love this idea!

Why sitting at your computer all day can wipe you out. Not sure if this is actually true… but I’d believe it.