Nine-Layered Kuih is traditional dessert that is popular in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. “Kuih” is a Malay word that translates to “cake.” This Kuih is named Nine Layer Kuih as it consists of nine layers stacked on top of each other. It is also known as Kuih Lapis, with “Lapis” meaning “layers” in Malay. Each layer can be easily peeled off, which allows you to enjoy each individual layer separately. That is how I used to enjoy eating it when I was a kid. I still enjoy it that way now!
In this recipe, I will guide you on how to make Nine Layer Kuih that has a soft and lightly springy/chewy texture. This is the same texture that I remember enjoying when I was a kid. I have also included all the tips you need to make a successful kuih.
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THIS NINE LAYER KUIH RECIPE (TEXTURE AND TASTE)
Soft and Slightly Springy/Chewy Texture
The The texture of this kuih is soft and slightly springy/chewy. It has a rich texture because I used a higher ratio of coconut to water in the recipe. Although it is soft, it is resilient and does not easily break apart when you peel off each layer individually.
Sweet and Fragrant
The kuih is sweet and very fragrant. When you start steaming it, the whole house will smell like pandan. It gets its natural sweetness from the coconut milk and the added fragrance from the pandan. Pandan is a fragrant plant commonly used in Southeast Asian dessert. It is like the Asian version of vanilla essence.
EXPLANATION OF KEY INGREDIENTS IN THE NINE LAYER KUIH
Coconut milk is the main ingredient in Nine Layer Kuih. It provides the natural sweetness to the kuih. I recommend using fresh coconut milk. Fresh coconut milk gives the kuih a subtle sweetness and fragrance. As for packet coconut milk, the coconut taste is stronger. Coconut milk also adds richness and creaminess to each layer.
Pandan give the kuih a special aroma. Pandan is a fragrant plant commonly used in Southeast Asian dessert. It is like the Asian version of vanilla essence.
Tapioca Flour to Rice Flour Ratio
Tapioca Flour contributes to the springy/chewy texture. The Rice flour helps give the soft texture. The rice flour I used in this recipe is actually “blended” rice flour, it has a small percentage of cornstarch. See packaging in the picture below. As I want the texture to be soft and springy, the ratio I used is 1.5:1 (tapioca starch: rice flour)
I used rose pink and red food colouring in this recipe. I do not recommend using the gel type as the colours will be uneven.
HELPFUL COOKING TIPS YOU NEED TO READ
Please use “Blended” Rice Flour in this recipe.
Blended Rice Flour has some cornstarch in which will help with the texture. If you use pure Rice flour, the texture might be too soft. You can buy online here
Don’t use high heat to steam.
Use low heat. The kueh will be too soft.
Don’t use bigger than 7 inch square mold
If you use a bigger mold the layers will be too thin. If you use less than 7 inch mould, the steam time will be longer as the layers are thicker.
Place cling wrap on the mould
It will be easier to unmould the kuih after steaming. I tried many times without using a cling wrap and the base layers always gets stuck to the based. You can look for cling wrap that is safe for steaming.
Wrap the lid if not using a bamboo basket
If you are not using a bamboo basket to steam and your lid is very flat, recommend to wrap the lid with a cloth to prevent water dripping onto the kuih and create uneven surface.
Recommend to use Fresh Coconut Milk and adjust sweetness to taste
The kuih for this recipe is not too sweet. So if you like it sweet, add 20-30 grams sugar. Recommend to use fresh coconut if possible.
Heat up the mould before adding the first batter
When the mould is hot. The cooking time will be consistent.
Stir the batter every time
Always stir the batter before measuring and pouring into the mould. When you leave the batter in the bowl for a while, the flour will settle at the base.
After steaming, always leave the cover open for 30 seconds
After steaming, sometimes there will be water condensation on the surface of the kuih. You need to let the water dry up before adding the next layer. If not dried up well, the next layer might not gel well.
Check the water level in the steamer.
Chances are the wok will run out of water. So add more water so that the based of you wok don’t burn and also to maintain the heat level. I would recommend adding water just before pouring in the next layer. Wait for the water to steam up again before adding the next layer so that it doesn’t affect the cooking time.
Leave to cool to room temperature
If you cut it when it’s hot, it will not hold its shape well and it will tend to stick.
Use plastic scraper to cut
Kuih tend not to stick to plastic scraper. If you don’t have one, you can wrap your knife with cling film.
HOW TO STORE NINE LAYER KUIH
Keep in an airtight container and place them in the fridge. They can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. They will harden once refrigerated. All you need to do is steam them on low medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Do not steam too long or too high heat as it will change the texture or it will become too soft. Then let it cool down slightly and enjoy it again! The texture of the kuih will be less springy overtime.
Ingredients A 材料A:
- 120 rice flour 120克粘米粉
- 180 grams tapioca starch 180克木薯淀粉
- 400 ml coconut milk, santan 400毫升椰奶
- 300 ml water 300毫升水
Ingredients B 材料B:
- 200 ml water + 5 pandan leaves (to get 150 ml pandan water) 200毫升水＋5片香兰叶（提取150毫升香兰水）
- 160-190 grams sugar 160-190克糖
- 1/3 teaspoon salt 1/3茶匙盐
Food colouring 食用色素：
- Rose Pink 玫瑰粉红色
- Red 红色
- 7 inch square mould 7寸方形模具
- cling film 保鲜膜
- Prepare a 7 inch mould (Don’t use bigger than 7 inch as the layers will be too thin). Oil the mould. Then place cling film on top. Make sure to push to the edges. Then oil the cling film again.
- Mix Ingredients A: add 120 grams rice flour, 180 grams tapioca starch, 400 mls of coconut milk and 300 mls of water into a large bowl. Use a whisk to mix well until there are no lumps, then set aside.
- Prepare Ingredients B: In a pot add 200 ml of water and 5-6 pandan leaves. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes, then discard the pandan leaves. Measure 150 ml of the pandan water. Place it back into the pot. Add 160 grams sugar and 1/3 teaspoon salt. The kuih for this recipe is not too sweet. So if you like it sweet, add 20-30 grams sugar. Cook on lowest heat until the sugar and salt is fully dissolved. our the hot sugar syrup into the mixed batter (Ingredients A). Mix well and sift the mixture.
- Pour into 2 separate bowls, one at least 400 ml and another 550 ml. Add rose pink food colouring to the portion with 550 ml of liquid. Don't pour too much; a few drops will do.
- Prepare a wok with water. Prepare a stand at the base or you can use a bamboo basket. Bring the water to a boil. Place the mould on top of the stand or bamboo basket. (The mould should be above the water level). Cover and heat up the mould for 5 minutes.
- Now, let’s start with the pink layer. Measure 125 mls of pink batter or 170 grams (first layer more liquid than subsequent layers). Always mix the batter before measuring. Then mix the batter again and pour into the mould. On low heat, steam for 5 minutes.
- While waiting, prepare the next layer. Alternate the colours, so the next layer will be white colour. Mix the batter, then measure 100 ml of 140 grams white batter.
- After steaming, initially the pink layer will look uneven, but it will flatten out in just a minute or so. (To check whether it is cooked, touch with a spoon. The batter should not stick to the spoon. Another way to check is the colour. When it’s cooked, it will turn darker pink.)
- Sometimes, there will be some water condensation on the surface. So leave it open for 30 seconds before pouring the next layer.
- Mix the white batter before pouring in. Increase the heat to low medium and steam for 5 minutes (To test for doneness, use the spoon test or when it is cooked the colour will turn slightly translucent)
- Continue for remaining layer until you get 9 layers (4 white layers and 5 pink layers). Every layer is 100 ml or 140 grams.
- After steaming, always leave the cover open for 30 seconds. Always stir the batter before measuring and pouring into the mould. Steam for 5 minutes.
- Midway, chances are the wok will run out of water. So add more water. I would recommend adding water just before pouring in the next layer. Wait for the water to steam up again before adding the next layer so that it doesn’t affect the cooking time.
- For the last pink layer, add red colour get a darker colour (optional, I add it so that it looks like the traditional kuih sold). For the last layer, steam for 10 minutes.
- After it is done. Remove from the wok and leave to cool to room temperature (If you cut it when it’s hot, it will not hold its shape well)
- Cut into diamond or rectangle shapes (best to use a plastic scraper, if you don’t have one, you can wrap your knife with cling film.). Serve.