Cantonese Pastries: Husband and Wife Cake
In Guangdong, you'll find no multi-tiered white wedding cakes celebrating the loving union between a husband and wife. No tiny figurines of a bride and groom, either. Here, such a sweet union exists without such exigencies, in the form of simple pastries inspired by stories of love's triumphs.
Wife Cake (or Sweetheart Cake 老婆饼: Lao Po Bing) and Husband Cake (老公饼: Lao Gong Bing) are among the most popular traditional Chinese pastries in Guangdong. Don't be surprised if you find several variations on the traditional recipe.
What's in it: Winter Melon, Coconut, Butter, Sugar
Legend: The origins of the Wife Cake involves the tale of a couple living in a small village in imperial China. And while they lacked material wealth, they had no shortage of love for each other. Then tragedy struck, with the outbreak of a mysterious disease causing the husband's father to become fatally ill. The couple spent all of their money on treatment to save his life, but to no avail. In the ultimate display of self-sacrifice, the wife sold herself as a slave in order to afford the continuing treatment of her father-in-law. Once the husband learnt about his wife's actions, he devised a pastry filled with winter melon and coconut in order to buy her back. His cake then became so popular that not only was he able to earn enough to free her, but enough to save his dying father.
What's in it: Fermented Red Bean Curd, Peanuts, Sesame, Five Star Anise, Butter, Salt
Legend: The tale of the Husband Cake begins long ago with a couple of childhood sweethearts. The boy came from a poor family, and so lacked the funding necessary sit for the national examination for government office, the passing of which was seen as the only way for a poor villager to ascend in wealth and class. The girl then created a salty pastry made of sesame and bean curd and sold it in the market in order to earn the money for his examination journey. Since then, people called it Husband Cake. Not only was she able to earn enough for him to take his exam, her efforts imbued the boy with the confidence to score the best marks and win the position of a highranking officer.