Nyonya Kueh Lapis

November 17, 2010

The Nyonya Kueh Lapis has always been one of my favourite Nyonya Kuehs! I am always amazed by how this nine layer Kueh is made! Everytime I eat it, I will just peel the layers off one by one and eat the whole kueh separately. The kueh lapis in Singapore is also very different from the ones we get in Malaysia. Most of the Singapore ones used Tapioca starch I think so the cake is extremely chewy and I don’t like that! So that’s another reason why I am so eager to make this at home. 

This is the second time I attempted this kueh. The first time was quite a disaster I would say. Even though the kueh tasted ok, but the layers were too thick, so after making it, I didn’t even have the appetite to eat it because it just look ugly and a bit bulky. I also didn’t mix the colours well (I only bought red colouring the last time) so you can imagine how the kueh lapis looked like.

This time I was more careful. And I bought the orange colouring just for the top layer! Well the colouring part is definitely one of the not so good aspect of this kueh. But of course you don’t have to put so much. For the red part I just put one drop basically. But for the top I put 3 drops.

My conclusion is in making this kueh is, all you need is time and patience. Without patience (like the first time I attempted this), this kueh just will not come out nice! Here is the recipe. I adapted this from fad about food. Recipe is the same but the instructions are slightly different.  

Flour Mixture:

160g rice flour
20g green bean flour (hoen kwe flour)
150ml water

For the Syrup:
190g castor sugar
300ml water
2–3 screwpine leaves (pandan leaves), knotted
200ml thick coconut milk
1/4 tsp. salt
A few drops red and orange colouring


1. Prepare the syrup. Boil the sugar with water and pandan leaves and leave it to cool.

2. Mix the rice flour and hoen kwe flour together with the water and leave it for approximately one hour (It is ok to leave this for longer than 1 hour, but not shorter than that). To get rid of the rice flour smell after the kueh is done, I take the pandan leave that was used to boil the syrup and put it in together with this flour mixture. But make sure that the pandan leave knot is totally cooled down.

3. After the hour is up, stir the mixture again until all the flour is dissolved. Add in the salt, coconut milk, then the syrup, stirring the mixture in the process.

4. Separate the mixture into a total of 3 bowls. 1 bowl will be slightly lesser – that will be the one with the orange mixture for the top. Drop one drop of red colouring into one of the bowl. You can add more if you want the kueh to be more red. The second bowl will have no colouring. Then three drops of orange coluring into the smaller bowl. It is ok if the colour of the mixture looks like milky orange, or milky red, because the colour will turn slightly transluscent after it is cooked.

5. Heat up a steamer. Grease a tin (20cm) with vegetable oil or any light oil. But not heavily scented oil like peanut oil. I used a slightly smaller tin for this time as I don’t have such a big tin.

6. Once the steamer is heated up, use a ladle and pour one ladle of mixture onto the tin. How I measure the thickness is the mixture has to cover at least the whole surface. Once it has the surface covered, I don’t put in anymore. But of course if you want to have a thicker layer, you can add in a bit more. Close the steamer cover and let it steam until that layer is set. For mine it takes about 2 minutes. If you are unsure if you can pour in the next layer, just wait a bit longer. Because if the layer is not set, then the two layers will ‘mix’ together.

7. Once the layer is set, remove the steamer cover again. Everytime the cover is removed, make sure that you wipe the steam off the cover so that the condensation water will not drip onto the kueh. THIS IS CRUCIAL!

8. Repeat the same for alternating colours and orange for the top layer. After the top layer, cover and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the cover midway to let the steam out and continue steaming. The rule for this is it is ok to steam it longer but not shorter as the flour may not be totally cooked.

9. Let the kueh cool down totally before cutting. This is another crucial step. If it is cut when it is really hot, the kueh will be a bit sticky.

10. Cut into diamond shapes and enjoy!