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Wife Cakes: Homemade Chinese Pastry Recipe

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What is Wife Cake?

Wife cake or sweetheart cake is a traditional Chinese pastry with flaky, tender crust and a filling often made from winter melon, almond paste, and sesame, flavoured with spices. Its Cantonese name, “lou po beng” (老婆餅), literally translates to “old lady cake” or “wife cake”.

wife cake fillings

Though the traditional filling is winter melon, you can find varieties with different fillings, like red bean paste or lotus seed paste, in modern takes on the recipe. This pastry is very popular in Chinese pastries shops, especially in Hong Kong and southern parts of China.

What is it Called Wife Cake?

The name “wife cake” is associated with a widely known folk tale. In a time of poverty, a man’s wife sold herself as a slave to help her husband’s financial difficulties. Upon learning what his wife did, the husband baked and sold these special kind of cakes. They became very popular, and he was eventually able to buy his wife back.

How to Make Wife Cake?

To make wife cakes, you will need to make the water dough and the filling, wrap the filling with dough, then bake.

It doesn’t sound so easy, right? Don’t worry! I have prepared an easy-to-follow wife cake recipe that you can follow step by step to make your own wife cake at home.

wife cakes sweetheart cakes
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Wife Cake

Wife cake is a traditional Chinese pastry with flaky tender crust and a filling often made from winter melon, sugar, or sometimes fruits.
Author: Lilith Wong
Keyword: cake, sweet
Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 1 hour


Water Dough

  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 30 g granulated sugar
  • 90 g lard or unsalted butter
  • 70 g water

Lard Dough

  • 160 g all-purpose flour
  • 90 g lard or unsalted butter


  • 400 g dried winter melon
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 30 g glutenous rice flour
  • 70 g lard or unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, optional


Prepare the Winter Melon Filling

  • Dice your dried winter melon into small tiny cubes.
  • Mix the diced winter melon, sugar, rice flour, lard or butter and melon or sesame seeds in a pan.
  • Cook over medium heat until the filling comes together and let it cool down. Separate them into 20 parts.

Prepare the Water Dough

  • Combine flour and sugar in a bowl.
  • Add the lard or butter and mix it until it forms crumbs.
  • Pour in the water and knead the dough until it's smooth.
  • Rest the dough for half an hour and then separate them into 20 parts.

Prepare the Lard Dough

  • Simply mix both the flour and lard or butter together to form a dough.
  • Rest and separate it into 20 parts as well.

Assembling the Cakes

  • Flatten a piece of water dough and wrap a piece of lard dough inside. Seal it tightly.
  • Roll it out into a flat circle, then fold it from both ends to the centre. Turn it 90 degrees and roll flat again, fold it in the same manner.
  • After that, turn over the pastry dough with folds facing down. Flatten it and place one portion of the filling on top.
  • Wrap the filling with the dough and seal it tightly. Turn it over and press gently to form a round cake. Repeat this with remaining dough and filling.

Bake the Cakes

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180/200°C or 356/392°F.
  • Arrange the pastries on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  • Brush the surface with egg wash (a beaten egg).
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
Nutrition Facts
Wife Cake
Serving Size
100 g
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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About the Author

Hello, I’m Lilith Wong. Welcome to my blog where I share authentic Chinese food and drink recipes.

Don’t know what to make today? See a random recipe!

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Lilith Wong

Lilith Wong is a blog writer, food lover, and the founder of Exotic Food China.

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