Corner Café

August 12, 2008

Winter Melon Puffs / Lou Poh Paeng 老婆餅

Filed under: Dim Sum — SeaDragon @ 12:00 am
Tags: , ,
Wife_Puffs 09

Wife_Puffs 08

To continue with the making of Chinese flaky pastry, this is one of the most common and recognisable pastry puffs, translated literally as ‘Wife’s Flatbread’ or ‘Lou Poh Paeng’ (老婆餅) in Cantonese. It is actually a flaky pastry filled with sweet winter melon filling. There is also a savoury version known as ‘Lou Kong Paeng’ (老公餅) or ‘Husband’s Flatbread’ which is less common, although I have never tasted this savoury version myself.
The Water Dough pastry for the following recipe uses bread flour to produce a crispy, flaky texture which is slightly different from the crumbly, flaky texture of some other Chinese flaky pastries. It reminded me of the crispiness of the Beh Teh Soh (馬蹄酥 or Heong Paeng 香餅) and Tau Sar Piah (豆沙餅) pastries of Ipoh. I will certainly try to remember to use bread flour to make the pastry of either one of them next time.
This recipe has a nearly 1 : 1 ratio of pastry and filling. Therefore it might be difficult for beginners to wrap. If you are making Chinese pastry for the very first time and want to make wrapping easier, I would recommend reducing the filling quantity to 3/4 amount (that is multiplying all ingredients of filling by 0.75). This way you have a larger pastry dough piece to wrap a smaller filling piece, once you are confident then you can use the full amount next time.

Makes approx. 14 pieces

Chinese Flaky Pastry:
Water Dough:
70g bread flour
70g plain flour
25g caster sugar
55g lard or shortening
70ml water, adjust as necessary

Lard Dough:
70g cake flour
35g lard or shortening

1 egg, lightly beaten for eggwash

Winter Melon Filling:
200g candied winter melon 糖冬瓜
20g (1 1/2 tablespoons) white sesame seeds
30g (1 1/2 tablespoons) caster sugar
40g (4 tablespoons) cooked glutinous rice flour 糕粉
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon canola oil
55ml water

Candied Winter Melon 糖冬瓜
Winter Melon Filling:
1. Dry roast sesame seeds over moderate heat in a frying pan for 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly brown. Cool then grind into powder using a mortar and pestle.
2. Finely chop the candied winter melon, or blend in a food processor (if using food processor, add toasted sesame seeds and blend together with candied winter melon). Add ground sesame seeds, sugar, cooked glutinous rice flour and salt. Stir in oil.
3. Gradually add water and knead the filling to form a slightly sticky dough.
4. Divide the filling into 14 equal portions, cover and set aside while preparing the Chinese flaky pastry.

Wife_Puffs 01
Winter Melon Filling 糖冬瓜餡

Chinese Flaky Pastry:
1. For the Water Dough: Put both types of flour, sugar and lard in a mixing bowl, mix briefly to incorporate the lard. Slowly add just enough water to form a soft but non-sticky dough. Knead until smooth, form into a ball, wrap in cling film and put into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before using.
2. For the Lard Dough: Rub lard into the flour and then knead into a soft dough. If it is too soft, chill in the refrigerator to harden a bit. If it is too hard, knead it a bit more until you get soft dough about the same pliability as the water dough. It is important that the malleability of the lard dough should be about the same as the water dough when making the Chinese flaky pastry.
3. Divide the water dough and the lard dough respectively into 14 equal portions each and round them all into small balls.
4. Follow the preparation of the Hidden-Layering Flaky Pastry as shown in Huaiyang Flaky Pastry up to step 16.

Wife_Puffs 02

5. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
6. With the heel of your palm, gently press the filled dough down to flatten it lightly. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a flat circle, making sure not to roll too thin as to squeeze out the filling.

Wife_Puffs 03

7. Prick the surface with the tines of a fork (or more traditionally use a knife to cut two slits on the surface) to allow steam to escape during baking.

Wife_Puffs 04
Option 1: Prick surface with fork.

Wife_Puffs 05
Option 2: Cut two slits with knife.

8. Arrange the pastry apart on the lined baking sheet. Eggwash the surface of each pastry.

Wife_Puffs 06

9. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown in colour.

Wife_Puffs 07

Taste: Crispy, flaky pastry with a sweet melon filling
Consume: Best within a week
Storage: Store in airtight container at room temperature, or in the refrigerator in tropical countries
Recipe References: ‘千層老婆餅’ recipe, hand-copied recipe from an unknown source


  1. These are one of my favourite. Once my new kitchen is up and running. Definitely going to try these. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Edith — August 12, 2008 @ 11:59 am | Reply

  2. this is my favourite….thanks for sharing how to do it

    Comment by dt — August 18, 2008 @ 1:24 pm | Reply

  3. hi SD, made these and love it! tks for sharing the recipe and i’ve linked you for it. 🙂


    Comment by ida — August 20, 2008 @ 5:08 pm | Reply

  4. Hi SeaDragon,
    Just wondering am I supposed to melt the lard before mixing it into the other ingredients or use it as it is? Thanks.

    Comment by Lily — January 4, 2010 @ 7:41 pm | Reply

    • Yes, just mix it in in its solid state, it should be quite soft at room temperature, so just roughly rub it into the flour mixture.

      Comment by SeaDragon — January 5, 2010 @ 4:45 pm | Reply

  5. Ahh and sorry, just one more question. Can I use half butter and half lard instead of all lard? If yes, then do I do that just for the water dough’s lard, oil dough’s or both? Thanks.

    Comment by Lily — January 5, 2010 @ 11:34 am | Reply

    • Yes, you can, but just be aware that using all lard will give it the lightest, flakiest result. Substituting with part butter will change the texture. By changing, you will also need to adjust other ingredients accordingly so the dough is not too ‘wet’ or ‘dry’. I can’t tell you what to adjust as that depends on experience, you will have to adjust yourself as you go along.

      Comment by SeaDragon — January 5, 2010 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  6. Hi SD,
    I’ve never used lard before, but I used it for the first time for this recipe. I don’t know if this is normal, but I found the smell of lard very unpleasant, the wife cakes tasted great but they still had the strong unpleasant smell of lard on them after baking (that I don’t find on store-bought chinese pastries)Is it because of the brand I used (I used the ‘Allowrie’ brand of lard that I found in Coles) or is it supposed to smell that bad? Thanks.

    Comment by Jess — January 16, 2010 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

    • Yes, there’s that lardy smell. I don’t mind it myself as I think I am used to it now. I supposed nowadays we are all so health conscious that we are not familiar with that smell anymore. Commercial ones don’t use lard anymore (health conscious public don’t like buying them), they use man-made shortening, so don’t have that smell. If you find the smell too much, there’s another way, use ghee or clarified butter, then you get the buttery smell, not authentic; more western style…

      Comment by SeaDragon — January 17, 2010 @ 6:37 pm | Reply

  7. Oh I see, thanks for the info. I’ll try substitute ghee for lard next time.

    Comment by Jess — January 17, 2010 @ 9:58 pm | Reply

  8. Seadragon, are these also made with a red bean filling?

    Comment by VaporChef — February 5, 2010 @ 8:55 am | Reply

    • Yes, you can use red bean filling, then it becomes ‘Red Bean Puffs’. Add an salted egg yolk inside the red bean filling, don’t flatten the puff and it is the popular Taiwanese mooncakes 蛋黃酥.

      Comment by SeaDragon — February 7, 2010 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

  9. […] Wife Pastry ‘Lou Por Paeng’ Recipe (makes 14 pieces)– original recipe from Corner Café […]

    Pingback by Wife Pastry ‘Lou Por Paeng’ « Queen of the Chennaults — March 29, 2010 @ 4:14 am | Reply

  10. Hello, thank you very much for this recipe! I’m Chinese American and loving baking, so finding a Chinese pastry recipe written in English with so many pictures is amazing! This is also my mother’s favorite so I plan to make it for her. I have one question about the cooked glutinous rice flour. I have Mochiko, which is glutinous rice flour, but how do you cook it? Do you mean heat it up in the microwave with some water to make it like the Mochi texture? Sorry that was the only part that confused me!

    Comment by Jessica — July 12, 2010 @ 3:39 am | Reply

    • The cooked glutinous rice flour is in dry flour form. You should be able to buy it from Asian supermarkets or groceries. You can see a picture of the packaging under Flour & Starches in the sidebar.

      Comment by SeaDragon — July 13, 2010 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

  11. Seadragon, I saw your recipe for Taiwanese Pineapple Shortbreads over at Cafe Of The East. The filling lists winter melon OR spaghetti melon.

    Is spaghetti melon the same as spaghetti squash? Can spaghetti melon substitute for winter melon in this lou poh paeng recipe?

    Comment by vaporchef — August 6, 2010 @ 8:20 am | Reply

    • Hmmm, this filling used candied winter melon, not fresh melon.

      Is spaghetti melon the same as spaghetti squash?
      Yes, I think American called it spaghetti squash.

      Comment by SeaDragon — August 13, 2010 @ 6:27 pm | Reply

      • Could I use candied spaghetti melon in this recipe, then? Spaghetti squash has a shredded texture, but I supposed I could coat the strands in syrup and let set. Do you think it would work?

        Comment by vaporchef — August 17, 2010 @ 8:07 am | Reply

        • I don’t think you can just coat the fresh melon with syrup, the mixture would be too wet to use. The candied winter melon is dried and candied, so have very little moisture.

          Comment by SeaDragon — August 22, 2010 @ 11:37 am | Reply

  12. Hi Seadragon, thank you for sharing this recipe. I made this twice. The first time was a great success, the pastry was very flaky as the one we bought from store. However, the second time, the pastry was a bit harder and not flaky. I recalled I have put less water than the first time in the water dough. Would that be the reason?

    Comment by Lori — July 3, 2011 @ 10:38 pm | Reply

    • Because wheat flour varies in moisture content, depending on the day whether humid or dry, or using new or old flour, you need to adjust the water everytime you make any pastry using flour. As long as you make sure you do not add too much water to make the dough sticky, then it is fine. Not adding enough water results in dry dough that is harder to roll out and can make the layering to be not even, thus not flaky. HTH.

      Comment by SeaDragon — July 8, 2011 @ 7:14 pm | Reply

  13. Hi
    I have just made this Lou Poh Paeng and I would like to say thank you for this recipe. It is very yummy indeed. My first time tasted a Lou Poh Paeng.

    Comment by Mel — June 6, 2012 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

  14. Hi,
    Some wife cake recipes call for golden syrup. Does this ingredient make a difference whether you use it or not?

    Comment by Judy — November 2, 2012 @ 2:58 am | Reply

    • I can’t answer your question because you did not tell me what those recipes are so I can have a look at them. However I would assume the golden syrup is a replacement for maltose for the Taiwanese-style recipes? If you don’t know how to adjust recipes, I would suggest you follow the recipes instead of trying to do substitutions which will result in failures.

      Comment by SeaDragon — November 2, 2012 @ 8:02 pm | Reply

  15. Thank you for sharing your recipe. These puffs are addictive. My mom and I think these are the best tasting winter melon puffs, even better than from the bakeries because there are traces of the winter melon in each bite.

    Comment by Kris — June 28, 2014 @ 8:35 am | Reply

  16. Hi seadragon, I am so confused with the many types of chinese pastries. can you enlighten me if lou por paeng, beh teh sor, pong piah, ma ti su, are they all the same thing? i am clarifying because in your pong piah recipe, one of the comment always mention beh teh sor as if pong piah and beh teh sor are interchangeable terms. i am looking for pong piah recipe specifically. thank you.

    Comment by Annie Lim — July 8, 2014 @ 5:45 pm | Reply

    • Basically they are all from the same Chinese flaky pastry family. The differences are in the texture of the pastry, which can range from soft to very crispy (this can be done by varying the ratio of water and oil dough), and also the filling.
      As for differences between pong piah and beh teh sor, I’m also not very clear. There are also differences between those made in Ipoh and Singapore. One has fried shallots, one doesn’t, also one has paler filling, one darker, don’t ask me which is which, LOL.
      Apparently pong piah is supposed to have a softer textured skin when compared to beh teh sor according to the older generations, but I always thought pong piah also have crispy skin, may be we just called all the pastries bought from Ipoh pong piah regardless of any differences, hahaha.

      Comment by SeaDragon — July 8, 2014 @ 6:29 pm | Reply

      • Thank you for taking time to reply. I also think pong piah is the flaky and crispy skin with maltose in it. Which is why i always find it hard to find the correct recipe on google because people name them differently according to the state they came from. So your pong piah recipe is really the flaky and crispy type? If so, I will be happy to end my search with your recipe. 🙂

        Comment by Annie Lim — July 8, 2014 @ 6:57 pm | Reply

        • Yes, it is the crispy one.

          Comment by SeaDragon — July 8, 2014 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

          • Goodie. Ok, one last question, is pong piah also known as heong paeng?

            Comment by Annie Lim — July 8, 2014 @ 10:57 pm | Reply

            • Not sure. I used to think pong piah, beh teh sor and heong paeng are all the same thing, but apparently there are subtle differences after doing some research when I was making the pong piah recipe. Still very confused about what actually went into the filling for each of them, guess they are still industry secrets we will never find out.

              Comment by SeaDragon — July 9, 2014 @ 4:53 pm | Reply

              • Thank you so much for your reply. You have helped me alot.

                Comment by Annie Lim — July 10, 2014 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

  17. […] Filling Recipe adapted from: Winter Melon Puffs / Lou Poh Paeng 老婆餅 […]

    Pingback by Winter Melon Puff or Wife Biscuit or Sweet Heart Cake (老婆饼) | GUAI SHU SHU — September 11, 2014 @ 10:19 am | Reply

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