Week 16: Chinese “Pumpkin” Cakes and Napa Cabbage Tofu Soup

Fall has officially arrived! And with it, the need for cozy foods (and for some of us, pumpkin spice flavoured goodies!). Both of the recipes this week come from a favourite blog – Omnivore’s Cookbook – and both are perfect comforting fall recipes. We had the soup as a light dinner and the “pumpkin” (instead of pumpkin we used steamed butternut squash from the share) cakes for dessert. The soup literally came together in 10 minutes. The cakes took a bit more effort, but still came together in about 30 minutes. So both are fast and simple!

Napa Cabbage Tofu Soup


  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 slices ginger
  • 2 green onions sliced (if available – we omitted)
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 8-12 napa cabbage leaves sliced to bite-size pieces (yield 8 cups after cutting)
  • 5 oz 140 g mushrooms of your choice , sliced to bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 block soft tofu sliced to bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder or salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (this is a key ingredient!)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


  1. Heat the chicken broth in a medium-size pot over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic and light soy sauce.
  2. When the broth starts to boil, add the white part of the napa cabbage and mushrooms (if using enoki mushrooms, add them later). Cook for 4 minutes, until the white part of the cabbage starts to soften.
  3. Add the green part of the napa cabbage and tofu and continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes. If you are using enoki mushrooms, add them now.
  4. Add the chicken bouillon powder (or salt), white pepper, and drizzle with sesame oil. Adjust seasoning by adding more salt if needed. Serve hot.

Chinese “Pumpkin” Cakes

We adjusted this recipe ever so slightly by using butternut squash instead of pumpkin, and by adding in some pumpkin spice! The result is delicious – not too sweet, with a touch of warm spices. The original blog has a very helpful video on how to make the dough and cakes – it's just below the recipe, linked here.


  • 700 g steamed and pureed squash if you have less, just use less flour – we had only 550g, and it still worked great!
  • 2 cups 250 g glutinous rice flour, plus extra (have handy a 400g bag)
  • 1 TBSP pumpkin spice (heaping!)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs gluten free bread crumbs, or unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Oil for frying
  • 2/3 cup red bean paste


Make squash puree

  1. (Optional) If making puree from uncooked squash – Cut the squash into large bite-size pieces. Fill a steamer with water and bring to a boil. Place squash on a steaming rack, skin side down. Cover pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn to low heat and steam until the squash can easily be pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Transfer squash to a plate to cool. Scoop the squash flesh from the skin and add it into a large bowl. Smash into paste.

Make the squash cake

  1. Mix together the flour and pumpkin spice mix. Slowly blend glutinous rice flour into puree, about 2 tablespoons at a time. Whisk with a pair of chopsticks (or a fork), until flour is fully incorporated. Add more flour and keep mixing, until the flour becomes difficult to blend. You may nee to use more than the 250g to get the right consistency (there is a video on the blog, linked above, which is very helpful to refer to). Dust both hands with rice flour. Knead the dough together with one hand until it forms a consistent and soft dough. The dough should be easily picked up by hand and should stick to the bottom of the bowl a bit. Pick up the dough and use both hands to press and knead the dough for another 5 minutes to blend the rice flour in well. The surface of the dough should be smooth and you shouldn’t notice any stray flour on or inside the dough.
  2. Put bread crumbs in a tall plate or a bowl and set aside.
  3. To prepare the filling, scoop 2 teaspoons of red bean paste and shape it into a small ball using your hands. Repeat until you’ve made 16 red bean filling balls.
  4. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, then divide each of those parts into 4 small pieces (about 41 g per dough piece). Shape each small piece into a dough ball with both hands.
  5. To make squash buns: Hold a dough ball in one hand and use the other hand to press it into a flat, round shape, about 2” (5 cm) in diameter. Place the red bean paste in the center. Wrap the dough around the filling and pinch the edges together to seal the filling, forming a ball again. Gently press the ball until it is shaped like a mini pancake, about 1/2” (1 cm) thick.
  6. Place the buns in the bread crumbs, pressing gently so the bread crumbs coat the surface. Flip to coat the other side. Process the rest of the dough in the same manner to make 16 total cakes.

Cook the squash cakes

  1. If using stovetop: Heat 1/2” (1 cm) oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Cook in batches by placing a few cakes into the skillet. Fry over medium-low heat for 2 minutes, until the bottom side turns golden brown. Flip the buns and fry the other side over lowest heat for another 2 minutes. Check the bottom side of the buns after 1 minute. If the color has already turned brown, turn to low heat, and allow to sit for another minute. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  2. If using an air fryer: Preheat the air fryer for 10 minutes at 350°F (176°C). Line the air fryer basket with parchment paper. Place the cakes into the basket without overlapping and leave a bit of space in between. Spray the top of the cakes with a generous amount of oil. Cook for 6 minutes, until the top becomes golden. Take out the basket, flip, and spray with oil. Air fry for another 4 minutes until the top becomes golden crispy, and the pumpkin cakes have slightly ballooned.
  3. Let the cakes cool slightly before serving. Serve hot or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months. Thaw the cakes before reheating. You can reheat the cake in a 300°F (150°C) air fryer or oven until the cake is warm throughout. You can also reheat them on the stove top by adding a bit of oil into the pan, covering the pan, and reheating over low heat.