Rainbow rice cake

Mujigae-tteok 무지개떡

I’m going to introduce a beautiful Korean rice cake today. It’s called mujigae-tteok (무지개떡). Mujigae means rainbow, so my ancestors must have got the idea for the name from a rainbow! I love it! This is an example of how they incorporated natural beauty into their everyday life. Even though the name of the rice cake is “rainbow rice cake,” it is usually made with only 3-5 different colored layers. That’s why this rice cake is sometimes called “colorful rice cake” (색떡, saektteok).

In this recipe, I am using 5 different colors from bottom to top: brown, green, yellow, pink, and white.

This rice cake is made on special occasions like a baby’s 1 year old birthday, or a wedding. As you see in this video, making this rice cake takes a lot of effort and time, even though the ingredients are comparatively simple. However, if you make this rice cake for someone very special in your life, you wouldn’t care much about time and effort. : ) You may wish this while you’re rubbing the rice flour with your palms:

“I wish my baby becomes healthy, smart, and a good, warm-hearted person!”

“I wish my parents have healthy and long life!”

“To show my love for my lovely husband (or wife) !”

Leave a comment and let me know what you wish when you make this!

A note about short grain rice flour: the flour you buy at your local store or the flour you make may have more or less moisture in it than the rice flour I use in this recipe. This is because of many different things like how long it’s been in the freezer in the store, or the atmospheric conditions where you live. You may need to steam more or less, depending on how dry or wet your short grain rice flour is.

Cooking time: 1.5 hours

Ingredients

A 2 pound package of frozen rice flour (or make it at home), sugar, kosher salt, water, liquid food coloring (green, pink, and yellow), lemon, mugwort powder (ssukgaru 쑥가루), cocoa powder.

Cooking utensils:
Steamer, sifter, 8 inch (20 cm) ring or springform.

Directions

  1. Thaw out frozen rice flour package and put it into a large bowl.
  2. Sift the rice flour.
  3. Add 10 cups of water in the bottom of a steamer, and place a wet cloth over the rack.
  4. Place the 8 inch cake ring in the center of the rack.
    whitericefloursifting

Brown layer (the bottom layer):

  1. Place 1 cup of rice flour in a medium sized bowl. Add 1 ts cocoa powder, a pinch of salt, 2 tbs of white sugar, and 4 ts of water.
  2. Mix it all up and press out any wet lumps by rubbing the lumps gently between your palms.
  3. Put the mixture into a sifter and sift into the center of the ring.
  4. Flatten out the mixture so it sits level in the ring.
    *tip: a business card works wellcocopowder
    brown

Green layer:

  1. Place 1½ cup of rice flour in a medium sized bowl. Add a pinch of salt, 2 tbs sugar, and 1 ts mugwort powder (ssukgaru).
    *tip: you can replace mugwort powder with green tea powdermugwortpackage
    mugwortpowder1
  2. Put 2 tbs of water and 1 drop of green liquid food coloring into a small bowl and mix well.
    *tip: Use a chopstick to get a very little amount of the food coloring
  3. Add the green water to the rice cake mixture and mix it all up. Press out any wet lumps by rubbing the lumps gently between your palms.
  4. Put the mixture into a sifter and sift into the center of the ring.
  5. Flatten out the mixture so it sits level in the ring.

Yellow layer:

  1. Place 1½ cup of rice flour in a medium sized bowl. Add a pinch of salt and 2 tbs sugar.
  2. Put 1tbs lemon juice, 1 tbs water, and 1 drop of yellow liquid food coloring into a small bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the yellow water to the rice cake mixture and mix it all up. Press out any wet lumps by rubbing the lumps gently between your palms.
  4. Put the mixture into a sifter and sift into the center of the ring.
  5. Flatten out the mixture so it sits level in the ring.greenandyellow

Pink layer:

  1. Place 1½ cup of rice flour in a medium sized bowl. Add a pinch of salt and 2 tbs sugar.
  2. Put 2 tbs water and 1 drop of hot pink (fuchsia) liquid food coloring into a small bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the pink water to the rice cake mixture and mix it all up. Press out any wet lumps by rubbing the lumps gently between your palms.
  4. Put the mixture into a sifter and sift into the center of the ring.
  5. Flatten out the mixture so it sits level in the ring.yellowandpink

White layer (the top layer):

  1. Place 1 cup of rice flour in a medium sized bowl. Add a pinch of salt, 2 tbs white sugar, and 4 ts water.
  2. Mix it up and press out any wet lumps by rubbing the lumps gently between your palms.
  3. Put the mixture into a sifter and sift into the center of the ring.
  4. Flatten out the mixture so it sits level in the ring.

Now let’s garnish!

decoration

  1. On the top of the cake place 5 dried cranberries to make flower petals. Put a few pine nuts in the center.
  2. Cut a dried apricot into a thin strip, and place it as a flower stem.beforesteaming

Finally, let’s steam it:

  1. Close the lid of the steamer and bring to a boil for 30 minutes over high heat.
  2. Turn down the heat and simmer another 5 minutes.
  3. Take out the rice cake and let it cool down. Serve with tea or coffee.done!
    colorfulpieceofmujigaeddueok

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292 Comments:

  1. omona joined 8/10 & has 1 comment

    I have a important question! how do you go around the issue of not owning a real steamer? i really want to make this tomorrow but i don’t own a real steamer is there a way around this by like making my own or something?

  2. Eden India joined 8/10 & has 7 comments

    Is the powder made from sticky rice (chapssal)?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments
      • Carol USA joined 8/10 & has 2 comments

        Hi Maangchi! Your website is wonderful, thanks for sharing these beautiful Korean recipes. I’m making the mujigae ddeok to give as a gift and I think I have all the right ingredients. I have two questions… I’m making it today, but won’t give it until tomorrow, about 24 hours later. Is the cake going to be ok? What is the best way to store it to make sure it stays good and doesn’t dry out? Also, I got a bamboo steamer, but it’s not quite tall enough for the springform pan ring and leaves a little gap between the lid and the steamer’s top. Is it ok if I place a wet cotton cloth over the steamer’s lid to keep the steam from escaping? Any other suggestions? I will send you a picture of the final result.

        • Carol USA joined 8/10 & has 2 comments

          Ok, so I made the mujigae ddeok and there’s a lot of room for improvement. Sifting the rice flour the first time was ok, but after I added the water, the flour got stuck in the sifter and would not come out the other side, it ended up being one big clump of dough, even though I followed the recipe. So I started over and cut the amount of water in half and passed the flour through a sieve instead of the sifter. I could tell right away that it didn’t look like the video, but I finished the recipe anyway. I’ll email pictures. The cake looks obviously dry, since I cut the amount of water in the recipe, and lumpy. Not sure what it’ll taste like tomorrow – I’ll bake a “regular” cake as well just in case. Any suggestions are welcome, as I know I’ll come back to this recipe until I get it right.

          • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

            Carol, I got the photo of mujigaeddeok you emailed me. I was amazed when I saw the photo. Very beautiful and classy! I will post the photo on my website soon.

            You will have to re-steam it right before serving because any type of rice cake gets hard after it’s made.

            I think this recipe (mujigae ddeok) is the most difficult to make of all recipes. It’s almost impossible to make it beautiful and fluffy the first time. You need a lot of practice.

            But yours looks awesome!

  3. ulke joined 8/10 & has 2 comments

    Can u use the frozen sweet rice flour for a sweeter flavor? They sell frozen sweet rice flour and regular frozen rice flour at the store.(Sorry if this question has been asked previously.)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      no, sweet rice is glutinous rice and the name has nothing to do with sweetness. Sweet rice is stickier than regular short grain rice.
      Buy regular frozen rice flour for this recipe.

      “Sorry if this question has been asked previously.” no problem! : )

  4. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Was it cooked properly? It sounds like you used dried sweet rice flour, if so, your rice cake won’t be cooked fully even though you steam it hours and hours.

    This rice cake is made with short grain rice flour instead of sweet rice flour.

    I’m copying and pasting my answer made for another reader a while ago.

    “You have to use short grain rice flour which is soaked overnight and ground finely. The package of frozen rice flour sold at a Korean grocery store in North America is pre-soaked and ground. The rice flour is wet, so it has to be kept in the freezer. Otherwise it will go bad easily.”

    So if you want, make your own wet rice flour!

  5. docpark US joined 5/10 & has 17 comments

    Attempted multiple times but steamer fails. Pitcutre of latest attempt, a two layer variant.

    http://golfism.org/2010/07/26/mujigae-ddeok-korean-rice-cake-pastry/

  6. nswift San Jose joined 7/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    I tried making this cake last night. When I transferred the cake from the towel to the serving plate it cracked. Does it mean it was too dry and not moist enough? What is the best way to prevent the cake from cracking?

  7. Nagareboshi joined 5/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!

    I can’t fount here frozen rice flour. Is it possible to self made the frozen rice flour?

  8. mrseum VA joined 3/10 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi~
    SUPER help please!
    My son Isaac’s Dol is tomorrow! His party is on Friday and I *have* to make this beauitful cake!
    My question is: I don’t have a steamer! Can I just add water to a stock pot and put the springform pan in that?
    Or can I bake it like a cheesecake? (Put the springform pan in a “water bath” in the oven?)
    Or can I make it in my rice cooker? I have a Zojirushi one that has a “cake” setting on it… but then I’m not sure how I would get the cake out.
    Must I have a steamer? I’m not sure where I can find a cheaper one on short notice.. :(

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      hmm, I’m sorry to say that you have to get a good steamer to make this rice cake. Otherwise,the rice cake won’t be cooked properly. By the way, congratulations on your Baby Isaac’s 1st birthday!

  9. Blessed Singapore joined 4/10 & has 18 comments

    Your flour shifter looks cute, where can I get it here in Singapore?
    And also where can I get the cotton cloth?

    I don’t think we have a privilege where we can bring such small quantity of wet rice to a miller to grind it. But yet I want to do it this way from the short grain rice because it is cheaper. Do you have any suggestion how to grind the wet short grain rice? Can I use a normal food processor?

    Thank you.

  10. Blessed Singapore joined 4/10 & has 18 comments

    Lovely rice flour cake. I would like to add flavor into the pink color section that can gives the color as well if possible. Do you have any suggestion what kind of fruit flavor I can put in and to also give the pink color.
    Thank you

  11. happiness sacramento joined 4/10 & has 1 comment

    do you have to use a swifter?? can we use something else..

  12. trriciaaa joined 4/10 & has 1 comment

    Hello!
    How tall do you recommend the springform to be? I don’t wan to buy one that is too short :(
    Thanks!

  13. justineee Washington joined 3/10 & has 5 comments

    can i use different colors? or is it better to use the traditional mujigae ddeok colors for wishing somebody luck ? :O
    omgoshie it looks soo good! since the brown and the white are on the outsides, and the get in touch with the mist, is that why you added less water to the brown and white layers? let me know as soon as you can!

    ~Justine :)

  14. tsirhcevoli USA joined 3/10 & has 24 comments

    Yum, your rice cake looks delicious! My mouth is watering….
    : )

  15. xtinemay joined 3/10 & has 2 comments

    annyeong unni!
    i was just wondering, by looking at the photo, is the texture fluffy like sponge cakes?

    the cake looks beautiful by the way! (:

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