Colourful food makes life more fun, whether it’s snack time, dinner time, or any time. That’s one of the reasons why Kueh Lapis is such a favourite with the people of Singapore and the surrounding areas. It is also very much of Peranakan cuisine.
The Story of Kueh Lapis
In the old days, the Netherlands had a strong colonial influence in Indonesia. The tradition of Kueh Lapis travelled through that connection, spreading from Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia back to the Dutch homeland, where it become popular. Today, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia continue to serve up sweet or savoury Kueh Lapis in every colour of the rainbow at parties, events and is usually very much part of a Singapore catering menu!
The Look of Kueh Lapis
Kueh Lapis can look very different depending on your personal preferences and the recipe that you use. In its most basic form, Kueh Lapis is a multi-layered cake, usually with very thin layers of contrasting colours. The cake can be cut and served in many different shapes, including round, triangular, or rectangular forms. Since the cake is cooked by steaming, not baking, it often has a gelatinous or pudding-like texture. Some variations are boiled, deep-fried, or grilled, which yields a firmer texture. Kek Lapis is very similar to Kueh Lapis, but the layers are baked and the ingredients differ somewhat. As with many Malay cuisine, espect something beautifully flavoured and delicious!
The Recipe Difference
There are a couple of different types of Kueh Lapis recipes. Some versions use more tapioca flour, while others rely on rice flour and mung bean flour instead. Find a recipe that has plenty of good feedback from people who have used it before.
The Method for Making Kueh Lapis at Home
Grab a large pot and boil about 500ml of water. Add 400g of sugar and 4 pandan leaves and keep boiling it until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat, take out the pandan leaves, and put in about 500ml of thick coconut milk, along with a pinch of salt. Mix it together and place it to one side to cool.
Next, combine 350g of tapioca flour and 100g of rice flour. Slowly add the coconut liquid, whisking the mixture constantly. To remove any lumps, strain your mixture using a sieve.
Split the mixture equally between two different bowls, or three if you want a tri-coloured Kueh Lapis. Add food colouring a drop at a time until you get the shades that you want. Grease a square or round cake pan, about 7 inches across, and put it into a steaming pot. After a few minutes on high heat, add about 125ml of your liquid from one of the bowls. Wait while it steams, about 4 minutes. Then scoop the same amount of liquid from another bowl and pour it over the first layer. If you want thinner layers, use less liquid per layer. Continue the process, waiting for 4 minutes, then adding another layer. Be sure to keep track and alternate the colours you use so that your end result will be a beautifully layered cake. For the final layer, you can deep the hue just a bit by adding another drop of food colouring. After the last layer, steam the entire cake for 15 minutes.
When it’s done, allow the Kueh Lapis to cool to room temperature. Then flip the cake pan over onto a platter and the Kueh Lapis should slide right out. Before you slice it, grease your knife with some oil.
Ways to Colour and Serve Kueh Lapis
If you want to get fancy with it, serve up the Kueh Lapis in small rectangles with tiny pandan leaf knots on top. You can also play around with the food colouring for the different layers. Red and green, two-toned pink, purple and pink, green and purple— use your imagination and enjoy the results.
Making Kueh Lapis isn’t difficult, but it is time-consuming. If you prefer to relax and enjoy the company of your guests, hire a caterer in Singapore to handle the food for your family get-together, birthday party, Chinese New Year celebration, or other special occasions. With help from Eatz Catering, you and your guests can enjoy a complete Peranakan buffet catering service, along with specialty treats like tasty Kueh Lapis.