Coconut Pandan Agar Agar Layered Jelly Cake (Agar Agar Santan Lapis) – Layers of agar agar thickened coconut milk and pandan juice made this beautifully layered jelly cake. Super easy to make and light tasting.
I grew up with mom’s agar agar jelly cake when I was a kid. My mom is totally not a baker, but making agar agar jelly cake was really her forte. She made agar agar jelly cakes with impressive designs like flowers and beautiful pastel layers for us as birthday cakes when we were kids. They were my absolute favorites. This agar agar santan lapis is a much more simplified version, in terms of design, compared to what my mom did, but this is still very tasty and light tasting. Super easy to put together too.
WHAT IS AGAR AGAR
Agar agar is made of algae that can jell liquid substance at room temperature. The word agar agar is of Malay origin but agar agar was first discovered in Japan and has been widely used in the culinary world and also in scientific experiments since then. Agar agar is high in fiber. I remember mom used to make plain agar agar jelly cake (without sugar) to eat as a snack. It’s filling but it’s super low in calorie. It is also a perfect substitute for the animal-based gelatin in cooking.
TYPES OF AGAR AGAR TO USE
I prefer using powdered agar agar the best because it’s the easiest to use among all three. If you don’t have powdered agar agar, here’s what you can do to substitute:
In general: 1 tsp (2 gr) powdered agar agar = 1 tbsp (4 gr) agar agar flakes = 1/3 cup agar agar strands or roughly about 12 strands (4 gr)
If you use agar agar flakes:
Dissolves it in the liquid (not hot liquid) you are going to cook and then put on the stove and bring to a boil until it dissolves completely
If you use agar agar strands:
1. Cut into 1-inch pieces or shorter so you can measure with measuring cup
2. Soak them for 15-20 minutes
3. Put in a liquid you plan to use and bring to a boil and boil until the agar agar dissolves completely
AGAR AGAR SANTAN LAPIS
Agar agar santan lapis is one of the popular and easy layered jelly cakes in Indonesia. Santan = coconut milk and Lapis = layers. Coconut milk and pandan juice are cooked with agar agar powder and then pour into a mould and then chill layer by layer to form the beautiful green and white layers. This is much easier to make compared to this Lapis Legit or this Gao Teng Kue.
COOK’S TIPS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. Never dissolve agar agar powder or flakes in hot liquid
They will clump and there’s the end of it. Make sure you stir to dissolve the agar agar before cooking
2. Let the mixture comes to a gentle boil
The agar agar will dissolve completely when it is boiled. But be careful with the coconut milk as we do not want it to come to a rolling boil and turn the coconut milk all foamy and frothy
3. Keep both coconut milk and pandan mixture warm AT ALL TIME
Agar agar will jell at room temperature or once it started to cool down and we don’t want this to happen before we pour the mixture into the mould. So make sure you keep the mixture warm at the lowest heat setting
4. Pop the bubbles
Pop the bubbles with a toothpick. If you don’t, the bubbles will be part of your cake when it solidifies 🙂
5. Make sure each layer has set and pour gently
Before you pour the next layer, make sure the layer beneath is firm enough to hold the next layer and pour the warm layer gently so it won’t “poke” through the layer beneath
6. Chill the cake before serving
Agar agar cake is usually served chilled. After you are done with layering, chill the cake for at least one hour or longer for best result
7. Loosen the edges
Loosen the edges with a sharp thin knife. Place a serving plate on top of the mould and flip over to unmould the cake
TROUBLESHOOTING: COCONUT LAYER NOT STICKING TO PANDAN LAYER WHEN YOU CUT
It’s not uncommon to have your agar agar layer not sticking to each other and slide around when you cut the cake. The problem is the agar layer has set too solid and it’s cold if you put it in the refrigerator. So when you pour the next layer, the warmth is not enough to “merge” the two layers so they hold on to each other (if that’s making any sense).
I recommend to let them set at room temperature, it will take slightly longer, but you have a lower chance of layers not sticking to each other. If you put it in the fridge to set, just make sure you don’t let it sit in the fridge for too long until it’s solid firm!
Recipe is improved and updated again on April 22, 2020 to increase the volume of liquid, sugar, and agar agar powder to better fit into the size of pan I mentioned in the recipe.
Coconut Pandan Agar Agar Layered Jelly Cake (Agar Agar Santan Lapis)
- 5 pandan leaves
- 650 ml water
- 5 gr agar agar powder about 2.5 tsp, see notes
- 85 gr sugar
Size of container/mould I use:
- 7 x 5 x 2 inches
Prepare pandan layer:
- Cut the pandan leaves into small pieces. Put in a blender and pour half of the water in and blend until you get a green color pandan juice. Strain the liquid and use the back of the spoon or your hand to squeeze any extra liquid out as much as you can. Mix this with the other half of the water to make sure it measures 650 ml. Top up with more water if needed
- Mix the pandan juice with the rest of the pandan juice layer. Stir to dissolve the agar agar. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to let it simmer and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Make sure you no longer see specks of agar agar powder. Scoop up and check to see. If the agar agar doesn't completely dissolve, your cake won't gel properly later. Keep it warm here on the lowest heat setting on the smallest burner on your stove. Give it a stir every now and then
Prepare coconut milk layer:
- Put all ingredients for coconut milk layer in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the agar agar powder. Bring to a gentle boil and then lower the heat to let it simmer. Keep stirring until you no longer see specks of agar agar powder, about 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat to the lowest possible and keep it warm here
Layering the cake:
- Gently pour about 1/3 cup of the coconut milk mixture into the dish or mould you want to use. Pop any bubbles you see with a toothpick and let this layer set at room temperature. Don't let it set solid completely or the next layer will not cling to it and will separate when you cut the cake later. As long as it's firm enough to hold the next layer and you see a thin film formed that doesn't stick to your finger when you touch, even though if it's still slightly wobbly when you gently shake it, you can proceed to pour the next layer
- The coconut milk layer should be firm by now. Pour 1/3 cup of the warm pandan layer starting from the one side and let it cover the coconut milk layer. Pop any large bubbles with toothpick. Let it sets at room temperature or you can transfer to a fridge to let it set again until it just firm enough, remember not solid cold or the next layer will not stick to the bottom layer
- Repeat this process until you run out of both coconut and pandan mixture. Give each mixture a stir before pouring
- Once you are done with layering. Let the cake chill further for a minimum of 2 hours for best result or 4 hours if you have the time
Unmoulding and serving:
- Use a sharp thin knife to loosen all four edges of the cake. Cover a plate on top of the mould and then flip the mould over to unmould the cake. Since I use a rectangle dish that is not a perfect rectangle, I trim off the four edges to give me a perfect rectangle. Cut into desired size and served chilled
- Agar agar santan lapis can be stored in the refrigerator, covered for 3-4 days. They do not freeze well.
- If you use agar agar flakes or agar agar strands: for pandan layer, use 2.5 Tbsp agar agar flakes (10 gr) or 30 agar agar strands (10 gr). For coconut layer, use 3 Tbsp agar agar flakes (12 gr) or 36 agar agar strands (12 gr).
- If you use agar agar flakes:
Dissolves it in the liquid (not hot liquid) you are going to cook and then put on the stove and bring to a boil until it dissolves completely.
- If you use agar agar strands:
Cut into 1-inch pieces or shorter so you can measure with measuring cup and then soak them for 15-20 minutes. After that, put in a liquid you plan to use and bring to a boil and boil until the agar agar dissolves completely