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This recipe is by Japanese patissier Keiko Ishida who once lived and worked in Singapore from 2003-2009. According to her, these homey cupcakes are a favourite treat in Japanese households. The cupcakes do not contain butter and egg; a treat surely my 85 year-old mum would love as she dislikes food with butter. Thumbs up for the clever use of chinese yam, wholemeal flour and soyabean milk – a combination that makes the cupcakes really lovely and healthy. Don’t expect it to taste like a typical “cupcake” as the texture resembles that of steamed chinese savoury yam or radish cake (except that this cake is sweet). Nevertheless, it’s surprisingly tasty and is great as an any-time-of-the-day snack. Delicious, I must say!

P/S: These do not keep well. Best eaten on the day that it is made.

(makes 7 cupcakes)


170gm Japanese sweet potato, cubed (I use a combi of yellow/orange/purple sweet potatoes)
50gm beet sugar plus 2 tablespoons (I use fine sugar)
90gm unbleached plain flour, sifted (I use self-raising flour)
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder (I omit this)
40gm wholemeal (whole wheat) flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
60gm chinese yam, grated
120gm soyabean milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20gm safflower or grapeseed oil (I use corn oil)
30gm dried raisins


1) Line muffin or pudding cups with muffin paper liners and set aside.

2) Cut sweet potato into small cubes. Place ina small saucepan and add 2 tablespoon beet sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover. Simmer until sweet potatoes soften, then drain and set aside. (**I simply sprinkle some sugar over the sweet potato cubes and put them to steam until done).

3) Sift both flours and baking powder once. (**If using self-raising flour, omit the baking powder)

4) Place remaining beet sugar, sea salt and yam in a bowl and beat well.


The chinese yam will cause the batter to be sticky

5) Add soyabean milk, vanilla extract and safflower or grapeseed oil and mix well.

6) Add both flours and fold in well.

Reduce speed of mixer and add flour gradually until well combined

Reduce speed of mixer and add flour gradually until well combined

7) Add half of cooked sweet potatoes and dried raisins to batter and combine well.

Use a spatula to fold in the ingredients

Use a spatula to fold in the ingredients

8) Pour batter into prepared muffin or pudding cups. Top each muffin with remaining pieces of sweet potato. Heat water in steamer until boiling, then steam cupcakes over high heat for 20mins or until they rise. Remove from steamer and leave to cool on a wire rack.

9) Serve cupcakes warm or at room temperature.

The diffent sweet potatoes add a nice burst of kaleidoscope colours to the cake!

Using different types of sweet potatoes add a nice burst of kaleidoscope colours to the cake