Gao Teng Kueh / Kue lapis (Steamed layered cake) is popular snack or dessert that is naturally gluten free and steamed layer by layer and this recipe uses pandan juice for natural green color.
Kue or Kuih is a fairly broad term in Malay and Bahasa language, which may include items that would be called cakes, cookies, dumplings, pudding, biscuit, or pastries in English. Lapis means layers in Bahasa Indonesian/ Malay. My sister is a big fan of gao teng kueh and so do am I. As a kid I remember how much I liked to peel it layer by layer before eating the kue.
GAO TENG KUEH IS POPULAR IN INDONESIA, MALAYSIA, AND SINGAPORE
Gao teng kueh is made with gluten-free flour such as: rice flour, tapioca flour, cornstarch. Some people added sago (cassava) flour too. There is also a baked version, often called Kue Lapis Surabaya or Kueh Lapis Legit. The steamed kue lapis is so much “easier” to make compared to the baked version. Most people will make it with three colors: green, red and white. I decided to use natural color by using pandan leaves. I love how the aroma of pandan leaves.
WHY YOU WILL LIKE THIS GAO TENG KUEH RECIPE
I have tried several different combinations of flour such as tapioca and rice flour, tapioca and rice and all-purpose flour, tapioca and rice and corn flour and I really like the latter the best. The texture of this cake is springy yet soft and very resilient and does not tear easily which makes it peeling layer by layer so much fun (especially for the kids).
TAPIOCA FLOUR TO RICE FLOUR RATIO
Tapioca flour is known to contribute to that bounciness/springy texture in food. Rice flour will give more of a softer texture. In gao teng kueh, we really kinda want both of those textures. You want it to be springy, but not too much that is so tough and hard, but not too soft that you can’t even peel the cake layer by layer
This recipe uses 2:1 ratio of tapioca : rice flour. Like I mentioned above, I think it’s perfect to me. Soft, springy, and easy to peel.
If you like it softer you can try 1:1 ratio, but I find it a bit difficult to handle and to peel, they break easier and more difficult to handle, but the cake is much softer.
HELPFUL TIPS FOR MAKING GAO TENG KUEH (STEAMED LAYERED CAKE) YOU NEED TO READ
1. The water in the steamer is in a rolling boil
If it’s not, each layer will not cook properly and taste starchy
2. Stir the batter EVERYTIME
You need to give the batter a stir every time before you pour each layer in. The flour tends to settle at the bottom after left sitting for a while
3. Check the water level in the steamer
The water most likely will run low halfway through the steaming process. You can add water but make sure you do so after the layer is cooked through. Once the water comes back to a boil, add another layer to steam again
4. Cool down completely
If you try to cut the warm cake, they tend to stick
5. Loosen the cake
Use a thin knife to loosen the sides of the cake and then invert onto a serving platter
You can definitely play with the colors to make the gao teng kueh looks more festive. Soft Pastel colors will be very nice. I made them with these colors a while ago
HOW TO STORE GAO TENG KUEH (KUE LAPIS)
They can be kept at room temperature for one day. They can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. They will harden when kept in the fridge and that’s normal. When you reheat them again by steaming, the texture will be back to normal.
Now I wish I have more kue lapis left 🙂
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I updated the recipe with different flour ratio after a few rounds of experiments.
Gao Teng Kueh /Kue lapis (Steamed layered cake)
Mix water and coconut milk together, you will get 1000 ml. Stir well. Divide the liquid into two equal parts, in this case 500 ml each
Cut the pandan leaves into 1-inch pieces with kitchen shears. Put in the blender and pour in 500 ml of the coconut milk and water mixture. Blend until pandan leaves turn into pulp. Strain the mixture. Squeeze any extra liquid from the pandan pulp, you will be surprised by how much liquid you get. Make sure you get 500 ml. Top up with some water if needed, most likely you don't need to
Prepare pandan batter:
In a bowl, mix together 500 ml of pandan juice with ingredients for pandan layer. Stir to mix everything and make sure there's no lump. Strain the mixture
In another bowl, mix together the other 500 ml of coconut milk and water mixture with ingredients for coconut layer. Stir to mix everything and make sure there's no lump. Strain the mixture
Bring the water in the steamer to a boil. Lightly brush the bottom of the pan with cooking oil. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, cut to shape. The paper will stick better with the oil. Preheat it by steaming it empty over hot water for 5 minutes
Depending on which color you want to steam first, it's up to you. Give the mixture a good stir because the flour tends to settle at the bottom after a while. Pour about 100 ml of the mixture into the pan. Let it steam for about 5 minutes. Make sure the layer has settled before you pour in another layer of color. Repeat this sequence until you get 9 layers. You might get a bit leftover, which you can just add in for a thicker layer, but you may need to steam a bit longer
Cool well before cutting. It took about 4-5 hours to cool down completely. When ready to cut, use an oiled knife or plastic knife to cut to prevent sticking