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Make Desserts and Learn the Chinese Zodiac (Episode 1): Dog and Sheep Cupcakes

MILLIE | JUNE 16, 2020
New Yoyo Chinese Series

We have an exciting announcement - we have a brand new Yoyo Chinese video series called “Make Desserts and Learn Chinese”

During this series, we’ll learn how to make six different Chinese zodiac-themed desserts, while learning about all 12 of the Chinese zodiac animals, or 生肖 (shēng xiào):

It’s a really fun new series, and better yet, it’s conducted all in Chinese! Don’t worry though, you can watch with subtitles if you like.

We’ll be learning how to bake delicious desserts with our teacher Millie - she’s a super talented baker and has even won the Le Cordon Bleu award for her masterpieces! 

About the Zodiacs

There is a special order to the zodiacs, which we’ll learn more about later in the program. Every year has a zodiac animal associated with it. 

Since there are 12 Chinese zodiac animals in total, in a specific order, any given animal, such as the dog, will be featured every 12 years as the zodiac for that year. 

For instance, some recent “dog” years have been 1994, 2006, and 2018. So as you can see, the years of a given zodiac are always 12 years apart! 

Episode 1: Dog and Sheep Cupcakes

You can check out Episode 1 of the series here, where we learn how to make cupcakes - 杯子蛋糕 (bēi zi dàn gāo), that look like the dog - 狗 (gǒu), and the sheep, the goat or the ram - 羊 (yáng)! You’ll also learn more about these two zodiac animals!

If you’re curious what your Chinese zodiac is, you can look for it in this handy infographic:

The Dog - 狗 (gǒu) 

Zodiac Years: As you may have seen in our zodiac chart above, anyone born in years such as 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, or 2006 has the dog as their zodiac. 

Zodiac Traits: Some trademark characteristics of the dog are that they’re loyal, empathetic, dedicated, smart, observant, responsible, have strong reasoning skills, and are willing to help others. One weakness of the dog is that they can be a bit emotional, worried, and stubborn at times.

Suitable Careers: Since people born in this zodiac are very rational, observant, and responsible, they make good referees, lawyers, teachers, doctors, and interviewers.

Compatibility: People with the dog as their zodiac have the best compatibility with those born in the year of the rabbit. They are least compatible with those born in the year of the dragon, sheep, and rooster.

The Sheep/Goat/Ram - 羊 (yáng)

In Chinese culture, legend has it that the sheep stole the seeds of 5 grains to give to the human world. Since the sheep stole grain to give to humanity, the Jade Emperor got upset and took the sheep from the human world and killed it. 

At that time a miracle occurred, in place of where the sheep was killed, green grass grew, and a lamb appeared. The sheep ate the grass, and sacrificed itself to humanity for its meat and milk to serve as food. 

In order to repay the sheep, when people of the human world found out that the Jade Emperor was choosing the 12 zodiacs, they chose the sheep as one of the zodiacs. There are other versions of this story as well.

Zodiac Years: If you were born in 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991 or 2003, your Chinese zodiac is the sheep.

Zodiac Traits: People born in the year of the sheep are known to be considerate, gentle, persistent, and hard-working, but they can be a bit timid and indecisive sometimes.

Suitable Careers: Due to their personalities, people born in the year of the sheep thrive in positions as teachers, nurses, doctors, and creative positions as writers, editors, painters, and musicians.

Compatibility: People born in the year of the sheep tend to get along well with those born in the year of the horse, rabbit and pig. Their worst matches are the ox, tiger, and dog.

Key Vocabulary in Episode 1

  • 低筋面粉 (dī jīn miàn fěn) - cake flour
  • 砂糖 (shā táng) - granulated sugar
  • 可可粉 (kě kě fěn) - cocoa powder
  • 苏打粉 (sū dǎ fěn) - baking soda
  • 巧克力碎 (qiǎo kè lì suì) - chocolate chips
  • 盐 (yán) - salt
  • 蔬菜油 (shū cài yóu) - vegetable oil
  • 鸡蛋 (jī dàn) - egg
  • 冷咖啡 (lěng kā fēi) - cold coffee
  • 白脱牛奶 (bái tuō niú nǎi) - buttermilk
  • 面糊 (miàn hú) - batter
  • 杯子蛋糕 (bēi zi dàn gāo) - cupcake
  • 狗 (gǒu) - dog
  • 羊 (yáng) - sheep
  • 奶油霜 (nǎi yóu shuāng) - buttercream 

If you like to bake, give these chocolate cupcakes a try - they’re delicious!

Recipe Ingredients:

  • Cake flour: 87.5g
  • Granulated sugar: 92.5g
  • Cocoa powder: 15g
  • Baking soda: ¼ tsp
  • Chocolate chips: 37.5g
  • Salt: a pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil: 56.5g
  • Egg: 1 whole egg
  • Cold coffee: 56.5g
  • Buttermilk: 56.5g
  • Buttercream for decorating: use as desired

Learn More

Make sure to stay tuned for Episode 2 of this series, where we’ll learn how to make a new dessert featuring two more of the Chinese zodiac animals! 

你最喜欢什么甜点 (nǐ zuì xǐ huan shén me tián diǎn)? - What’s your favorite dessert? 

Let us know in the comments below!

Speaking of dogs, are you a dog person or a cat person? Check out Unit 32 from our Upper Intermediate Course where Yangyang and her friend Li Mi talk about the dog vs. cat debate. 

If you’re just starting off on you Mandarin learning journey, check out our If you’re just starting off on you Mandarin learning journey, check out our Beginner Conversational Course

Level 1 (40+ lessons) is like a mini course in pronunciation and tones, with basic grammar and vocabulary - and it's FREE! Start with Lesson 1 right here.