Steamed Kuih Lapis is a popular snack in Malaysia and Singapore and it literally means layer cake in Malay.
By Ann Low
Steamed Layer Cake Snack
Steamed Kuih Lapis is a popular snack in Malaysia and Singapore and it literally means layer cake in Malay.
- Author: Ann Low
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Yield: 4 1x
- 350g Tapioca flour
- 100g Rice flour
- 500ml Water
- 400g Sugar (used 200g)
- 4 Pandan leaves
- 500ml Thick coconut milk with a pinch of salt
- Rose pink colouring
- In a pot boil water, sugar and pandan leaves together till sugar dissolved. Turn off heat, discard pandan leaves and add in coconut milk. Stir well and leave aside to cool.
- Mix tapioca flour and rice flour together and gradually blend well into coconut liquid with a hand whisk. Then strain mixture through a sieve to ensure it is free from lumps.
- Divide mixture in two equal portions and add desire colouring into one portion, keeping one portion white. (You can use more colours if you prefer to have more colourful layers)
- Grease a 7 inch square or round cake pan and place in steaming pot for few minutes over high heat.
- Pour about 100-125ml of white liquid into the heated pan and steam at high heat for about 4 minutes or until batter is cooked. Then add 100-125ml of pink liquid onto it and steam for another 4 minutes. (reduce liquid for thinner layers)
- Repeat the procedure, alternating white and pink liquid until all the batter is used up. Remember to stir the batter every time before pouring out the liquid to steam each time.
- Add a little more rose pink colour to the last layer to make it a deeper shade of pink.
- Leave Kuih Lapis to cool completely after steamed and invert the cake pan to knock out the kuih.
- Grease knife with little oil before cutting. You may also brush a little oil on the surface as gloss finishing.
Ann Low is the author of Anncoo Journal, and loves to bake and cook for both family and friends. She acquired a strong passion for culinary skills from a very young age by watching her grandmother prepare delicious meals for the family. Ann believes that baking is an art and she wants to share her baking and cooking experiences with everyone in the world.
Thanks for sharing your recipe. I’ve been looking all over and I’ve tried some other recipes but it did not turn out good. Hoping to try this one soon!
Hi Chai, you’re welcome. Hopefully you like this recipe after trying it :)
I made your exact recipe but found the kueh lapis very rubbery.
Why is that?
Thankz for recipe kueh lapis ! Love it.
Tried others yours was chewy n yum. 250 gm sugar just nice. made it pandan (green) and white santan layer. Cheers.
Doris, glad you hear that. Wish I can see your picture :)
You can take a look at my recipe – abok abok sago, is also chewy n yummy.
ghee shared some with a friend, she cannot stop
soory should have taken a snap shot too late all gone, next round. thanks once again.
for your information enjoy trying new recipes….
Thank you :)
Thanks Ann! It took a very long time for the batter to solidify, so I reversed the tapioca and rice flour! This worked a lot faster and was equally delicious. Thanks for the recipe.
Hi Jon, Yes in some recipes they used rice flour more than tapioca flour. I’m going to try that one day too! Anyway thanks for trying!
um i have a question what is pandan and where can i buy it?
Pandan leaf is screwpine leaf. You can get it Asian grocery store.
Do you have to use pandan leaf or can you make kuhi lapis without it.
YOU CAN USE ROSE ESSENCE OR PANDAN ESSENCE OR EVEN CARDMOM POWDER .
Sorry for the late reply. Yes you can make the kuih lapis without the pandan leaf if you can’t find the leaf around your area.
Thanks for the receip, hve tried many versions but urs turn out gd.
I would like to check as to why the kueh turn out to a a little stiff and not soft?
Hi Sujatha, It might probably due to you have over steamed the layer cake.
What can I use instead of pandan leaves? Can I use pandan essence?
There aren’t any fresh panda leaves where I live :(
Hi Christie, yes you can use pandan essence if you can’t find screwpine leaves.
Hi Ann, I like to use bunga telang for the coloring, how many flowers do I need and how do I do it? Thanks
So sorry that I only reply your comment now as some of my incoming comments went to the spam box.
You can use 7-10 pcs of bulang tenang and soak in a bowl of water. Add more flowers if you want a darker colour.
Thank you very much for sharing your recipe and i tried to it to impress my madame and she liked it alot. She also said that its chewy and yummy.. and the sweetness is just right.. I am so glad that i found your site :-) thank you very much and God Bless You Always :-)
Thank you very much for your compliment and so glad your madame like this dessert.
You can always drop me a comment when you’re free.
Hello, can i use instant coconut powder?
I made half the recipe & it turn out good. My kids love it.
Hi there I tried these …. made by others. I love the colour & taste but wanted to know is pandan leaf a must in the mixture? Does it give a diff flavor coz I have never made it & I really want to :)
Sorry for the late reply.
Yes you can use coconut powder with water according to the package instruction.
Sorry is answer to Jacy not Fong.
Thank you for trying. So glad to hear your kids enjoyed it :)
The pandan leaves give a nice fragrance flavour. Without that you will only get the taste of the coconut milk.
I have rice flour, but no tapioca flour. Can I use corn flour? Will it work?
You can use corn flour but not 350g.
Put it the other way round
350g rice flour and 100g corn flour.
Hi, I tried making this kuih lapis. 5 minutes for evergy layer but the end result was a disaster. I thought it was overcooked but apprently it was undercooked. You could still taste the dough. My Q is, how do you know if the layer is cooked before putting another layer. I did touch the layer before putting new one, but I messed up nway.
Sorry for the late reply to your question.
The steaming of the first layer of the lapis is very important. You must make sure it is fully cooked before adding the next layer. You may steam the first layer a little longer and it is firm to touch.
Thank you very much for sharing your recipe. My kids loves the kueh a lot. They said that its very chewy and yummy….better than those we brought from the market… I am so glad that i found your site. Thank you very much and Merry Christmas to you :-)
Hello! I’m wondering is tapioca starch and tapioca flour the same thing?
Thanks!! :) happy new year !
Hi Diane C, So happy to hear that your kids loved this kueh. Thank you for trying my recipe :)
Happy New Year to you and your family!
Hi Clareb, Yes, tapioca starch and tapioca flour are the same thing.
Hello! I’m wondering how do u stop the top from cracking when it is cooling down?
This is the first time that I heard this layer cake cracks. Sounds strange to me. Anyway make sure you stir the mixture well before adding the new layer before steaming.
Hi, Ann. I’ve tried a few recipes for the cake lapis but didn’t turn out good. It’s a bit soft. I am thinking try your recipe next Monday. Hopefully it turn out chewy and I can prepare it for my mother-in-law on Mothers Day!
hi! why do we usually use coconut milk in making kuih lapis ? what is its role ? what is the affects if we substitute the coconut milk with other dairy milks ?
Hi?Kuih lapis is a traditional Indonesian/Malaysia and Peranakan snack. Adding coconut milk will give the kuih a nice sweet flavour. This snack will be tasteless if you’re using other dairy milks in this recipe.
Hi there, how much pandan essence should be used for the recipe? Thanks!
I made the Kuih Lapis twice, the first time I didn’t have Tapioca Flour hence I used Corn Flour with the same measurement given above. It turn out alright. However, one of you comment you have mentioned “”to use 100gm corn flour and 350gm rice flour””, isn’t tapioca flour and corn flour almost the same?
The second time I used tapioca flour and it turn out to be too rubbery, where did I go wrong?
Sorry for the late reply.
Rice flour is a form of flour made from finely milled rice. It is distinct from rice starch, which is usually produced by steeping rice in lye. Corn flour is made from Corn.
If you Google search, you’ll surely see that usually rice flour and corn flour were used for making this kuih lapis. Some even used mung bean flour.
Tapioca flour is also acceptable in this recipe too but probably you have over-steamed the layers that caused the texture too rubbery.
You are right! I did over steam at the end thinking the last layer needed more cooking. I will surely try again. Thanks Ann.
Is it alright to use 350gm corn flour and 100gm rice flour? will it still work?
I tried this recipe and it turned out to be very chewy. I remember my childhood days, it tasted different. I think the tapioca starch made it chewy. The pic looks very good but unfortunately it didn’t turn out like I expected.
I was wondering if this recipe could work with raw sugar. Would I need to alter the portion at all?
I have tried many recipes but it always turn out too soft until you can’t cut in a nice shape.I have let it cooled before cutting.I am so desperate and really need someone to help.I wonder whether used too much liquid but I followed the recipe 100%.
Sorry that I’m not sure about using raw sugar for steaming. You can read a little more of raw sugar from this site.
Have you also tried my recipe? Mine was more on the chewy stage. If you say the ‘kuih’ is too soft, it might probably due to you’ve not stir the mixture well before steaming. Of course you can reduce the water a little if you suspect the problem lies on the liquid.
I just tried your recipe and it turned out very sticky, I followed your recipe 100% and don’t understand what was wrong.
Hi, can I make this few days in advance prior to a party? Thanks
Hi Norita, Yes, you can make this ahead and leave in room temperature for a day if the weather is not too hot.
Hi Ann! Thanks for the recipe I just made it and it was a good first try! Was a bit sticky and chewy and I was wondering Any tips to make it less sticky? Should I up the rice flour or lessen the tapioca flour and if so, by how much? Thanks in advance!!
How long should I steam the cake after the last layer has been poured ? Some recipe says to steam for 10 minutes for the last layer (top). But yours did not mention, so I presume is for 4-5 mins as the rest of the other layers ?
Hi, how much pandan essence should I used to replace the leaves?
Hi Michelle, Just one teaspoon of pandan essence needed in the recipe.
Hi Ann, the kueh lapis seem to be chewy. Is it because of too much tapioca flour according to your recipe?
Hi Catherine, yes this kueh snack is a little chewy. You can use more rice flour than the tapioca flour if you prefer.
Easy and simple.
Thank you :)
Hi Ann, Thank you very much for sharing your lovely recipe. I wanted to make something Malaysian for International Day at my son’s school and saw your recipe. It turned out amazing. My son was one very happy boy as he loves Kuih Lapis.
Hi Anita, I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you for trying my recipe :)
I find it very difficult to take the kueh ou. I inverted n knocked..Can’t. I have to use hand to force it out. Did I miss anything? Tks in advance :)
You have to grease the pan with oil before steaming the kueh.
Using for school project, unfortunately nobody voted for it.
I will make it at home!
I had this in Holland years ago and it was delicious. I didn’t know the name until now. I will try it at home. Thank you for the recipe.
Can say the home made 9 layers cake taste superb. Better than those sold at the market. Thanks for the recipe
I am Australian and lived in Singapore as a child. This was my favorite sweet. I have always missed this for obout 40 years. Thank you so much for the recipe. I have trouble finding Pandan leaves. I usually have them in my freezer but recently ran out.
Hi Ann, I tried your recipe but I made a switch between the rice and tapioca flour… After the steaming was done, everything looks ok. But when I tried to cut the kuih, the top layer a bit tough probably due to the fan cooling, but the rest of the layer were too soft n sticky. Why is it so?
Hi, every layer must be steamed to fully cooked before adding the next layer. If one layer isn’t cooked the whole ‘kuih'(cake) will be a waste.
Why the kuih lapis i make before not taste QQ but hard? Im over cooking?
Hi there, just want to let you know that we tried this recipe in New Jersey — and it works! It takes patience to add one layer at a time, but it is so good….
Im so glad the whole dish came out looking prety. Thanks for sharing.But I felt overall mine looked dry..normally the shop one more oily. Wonder what kind of oil should be used. My hubby said the oil i used may be giving the bitter taste.
Hi ive tried many eecipe but i find yours the best, however, l did the opposite, more rice flour than tapioca floour, it turn out well. Thks for sharing..
Good morning Ann …I tried to make Kueh lapis .. it’s very yummilicious.. but it is very soft n bit watery…Can Ann helping me to solve it ? ..Which part I make wrongly… thank you ..
Hi Annabelle, Each layer must be fully steamed over high heat and cooked before adding the next layer.
ps. you must stir the mixture well before steaming each layer.
Recipe did not work for me. Too much liquid for too little flour
Can I use dried Pandan Leaves, and if so, how?
The flavour is good but unfortunately it was too rubbery and not like the kuih lapis I usually get from the stalls. I was quite disappointed. I added tepung gandum and it fixed the texture for me.
Tried your recipe for the first time and although I made a mistake with one of the layers and it bled through, the kuih was still a hit at the party! Thank you! Any tips on how to store it to be eaten the next few days?
this was amazing thanks ann
Hi Ann , your steamed kueh lapis is easy to follow. I will try am sure it will turn up well. Please post more steam Kueh and fatt kueh.. My family l ove steam food. no baking type. thank you
Hi ,I would like to know if I have to cool the coconut milk,syrup completely? And if I would like to make big potion,using steam bake oven isn’t advisable?
Should I multiply the ingredients and how should I go along with it ,pls advise thanks.
Hi Audrey, Sorry that I’m not sure about using the steam bake oven as we usually used the traditional way of steaming this dessert. Suggest that you make the same portion in the recipe before proceeding to make a larger one.
Yes, you must cool the coconut milk before mixing the flours together.Otherwise the flours will get lumpy if the liquid is hot.
Can this kuih be freezed or it has to be consume by the next day
Hi Adelene, You cannot put this “kuih” in the freezer. The “kuih” will becomes as hard as stone. It’s better to consume it on the same day after steaming or place the “kuih” in the chiller and re-steam for a few minutes the next day.
Thank you Ann for your generosity to share.
Always looking for correct kuih lapis recipe.
Initially fr Kuala Lumpur. Living in Perth since 1987.
Recipe for steamed layered cake(kueh lapis) is written clearly & can be easily understood even for a first timer in baking! ??
Hi mdm, your recipe sound easy to do… I just have a question in your recipe in ingredients part stated that 400g of sugar and used 280g… Can you explain abit on this… Tq
Hi Jovita, 400g is too much and too sweet. I used 200g of sugar.
Please check my blog post https://www.anncoojournal.com/kuih-lapis-steamed-layer-cake/
God bless you Ann for your kindly and beautifully recipes sharing cheers
If I cannot find tapioca or rice flour, can I use corn flour?
Hey Ann, I’m not sure why my batter is really thick despite following the measurements. Is it because my liquid is still warm?
I tried this recipe but it didn’t turn out like the picture. Maybe I used glutinous rice flour instead of rice flour, maybe that was my mistake. My Kueh turned out very gummy and chewy.
Tq.Its very delicious and sweet.
Hi, I tried you recipe and it was easy to follow. However, my kuih turned out to be extremely chewy that I couldn’t figure out why.
There are a few steps that I modified:
1) I use matcha powder for coloring, but don’t think it will cause the problem
2) for the last layer, I steamed for 15 minutes
3) I didn’t let the sugar coconut liquid to cool down and start mixing the flour
Hope you can help with this.
Do you also do home delivery or to collect in singapore , if i order kuih lapis cake .