Nine Layer Cake, also known as 九层糕 in Chinese, or Kueh Lapis in Malay, is a well-loved Singaporean tea-time treat, famous for its nine distinctive colors. This cake is traditionally eaten during the Double Ninth festival, it is also a popular choice for breakfast or dessert.
During the Winter Solstice, the people of Taiwan have their own unique custom of offering nine-layer cakes as a ceremonial sacrifice to worship their ancestors. These cakes are made using glutinous rice flour in the shape of a chicken, duck, tortoise, pig, cow or sheep, and then steamed in different layers of a pot. These animals all signify auspiciousness in Chinese tradition.
“The making of this Kueh is a carefully handcrafted process, which requires patience, dedication and love; each layer must be treated with delicacy.”
- 400g tapioca flour, sieved
- 80g rice flour, sieved
- 1kg coconut milk
- 6 ½ cups water
- 400g white sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- Pandan leaves
- 5 different food coloring, depending on personal preference
Boil the sugar and pandan leaves in a pot of water. Add a pinch of salt. Boil till the sugar dissolves completely. Set aside to cool completely. Strain to remove the leaves.
Mix tapioca flour and rice flour together in a mixing bowl. Add the pandan leaves-sugar mixture to the flour mixture. Mix well until a smooth consistency is achieved.
Sieve the coconut milk and add into the dough mixture. Mix well until a smooth and silky consistency is achieved.
Divide the mixture equally into 5 bowls. Add a different food coloring to each bowl.
Brush a tray with oil that has been cooked with pandan leaves. Put the tray in a steamer, be careful not to drip water vapor into the tray. Steam each colored layer for about 5 minutes, starting with the white layer and ending with the brightest color.
Repeat the process until the mixture is used up.
Remove the tray from the steamer and set aside to cool completely. Remove Kueh from the tray and cut into serving portions.
- Strain the coconut milk and sieve the flour to achieve a smooth consistency.
- Breaking up the veins of the pandan leaves help the aromatic fragrance to be extracted more easily. If you prefer, you can also cut the pandan leaves into small pieces instead. However we prefer to tie the leaves together so they can be easily removed.
- Always stir the batter before pouring in each layer to ensure a uniform consistency.
- Always check that the previous layer has completely set before adding the next layer.
- Ensure that the Kueh Lapis is completely cool before attempting to remove it from the tray, otherwise it may stick to the pan and be very difficult to cut.
- You can wrap any leftover Kueh Lapis in plastic to prevent them from sticking together, then store in the fridge.
Source: My Singapore Food