Steamed Layer Cake (Masam Manis) Recipe

Steamed Layer Cakes

I love visiting other people’s food blogs for inspiration. I have to hang my head in shame because as of late, I’ve been so busy that I’ve not had enough time to do that as often as I would like. However, recently, I noticed a new commenter who has been coming around and leaving very encouraging comments. Out of curiousity, I clicked on her blog and from there, found my way to several other blogs. The inspiration for today’s recipe comes from there. So thank you, Ninazsyafinaz for helping us find this recipe.

Famous Layer Cakes

As you know, we are now living in Kuching. And one thing that Sarawak is well known for is their layer cake. As a matter of fact, over a year ago, we blogged about our experience with a famous layer cake shop and being able to go behind the scenes to see the making of a Sarawak layer cake. That experience made me very wary of making my own because of all the time and energy spent creating those masterpieces.

Fast forward to now, almost two years later and we’re blogging daily for Royal Selangor’s “Get Your Jelly On” competition and racking our brains for ideas. Babe in KL suggested we do layered tea (another famous concoction from Kuching and which we might still do). Her suggestion got me thinking that we should indeed do some recipes featuring local Sarawak specialties. What could be more special than creating a layer cake? So it was just fantastic timing that as I was contemplating doing this that I found this recipe for a steamed layer cake on this site.

Get to Work

So this past weekend, we bought all the ingredients we needed and got to work. The kids even helped us grind and sieve the Marie biscuits. Yup, this recipe is unique in that it doesn’t call for flour. Instead, you use ground up biscuits as flour. And haw flakes are added in between layers for the sweet-sour flavor. This combination works really well.

Haw Flakes

haw flakes

Masam Manis (Sweet Sour) Steamed Layer Cake Recipe

Taken and translated from Mas Duniaku
This recipe makes enough for two RS moulds and another medium loaf pan
Prep time: 30 min / Total time: 1 hour 30 min

2 cups Marie biscuits, finely ground and sieved
4 large eggs
180 g castor sugar (we thought that it could have used less)
4 Tbsps condensed milk
1 Tbsp Ovalette
1 tsp vanilla extract (How to make your own vanilla extract)
125 ml fresh cold milk
2 Tbsps horlicks powder (optional)
80 ml vegetable oil
Hawflakes to line each layer (we used a whole packet of ten and could have used even more)
a few drops of pandan paste and pink coloring (or any other color of your choice)


1. Prepare your cake moulds. I sprayed the RS moulds with Crisco and then made cone-shaped parchment to cover. Do the same with the loaf pan.

2. Prepare your steamer–fill with sufficient water and set it to boil.

3. Put all ingredients except vegetable oil and hawflakes into your mixer and mix till it is fluffy.

Making Steamed Layer Cake Batter

4. Add the oil and fold it in with a spatula.

5. Divide the batter into three equal portions. Color one portion green and another pink (or any other color of your choice).

steamed layer cake batter

6. Pour one spoonful each of green into each mould and arrange two hawflakes on top (for the loaf pan, you will need more (about ⅓ cup). Do not press down. Steam for 4 minutes for the RS moulds and 5-7 minutes for your loaf pan until no longer liquidy (to ensure that water does not splash down into your cake batter, cover them with foil). For the second layer, pour one and a half spoonfuls of plain batter in each mould and arrange four hawflakes on top. Steam for 4 minutes. For the third layer, pour 2 spoonfuls of pink batter and layer with more hawflakes to cover the top. Steam for 4-5 minutes. Repeat the layers, increasing the spoonfuls by an additional half with each layer. After putting on the final layer (no need to place hawflakes, steam for 15 minutes (for the moulds) and 25 minutes (for the loaf pan) to fully cook the cake.

Steaming Layer Cakes

7. Turn off the steamer and remove the cake and let cool before cutting.

Even though the layers take time to build, it’s not as tough as I imagined. I suppose it helps that the Royal Selangor Jelly Mould is small enough so the cakes took not much time at all. As a matter of fact, I had tons of marking (grading) to finish up this weekend for school so I just made the layers between marking my students’ papers. Multi-tasking is so important when you have a busy weekend!

Steamed Layer Cakes

My whole family agreed that the sweet-sour Haw flakes are what makes this cake a winner. Though Nate and I both prefer “baked” cakes, this was a hit with others we shared it with.


Cheers, Annie

According to the Malaysian Oncological Society, “studies have shown that screening mammography with or without clinical breast examination may decrease the mortality of breast cancer. A mammogram can detect small cancerous lumps as well as cancer in situ (abnormal cells about to form cancer), which may be missed in a clinical examination.” Support Breast Cancer Awareness by purchasing a Royal Selangor Jelly Mould, and proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Welfare Association of Malaysia.

8 thoughts on “Steamed Layer Cake (Masam Manis) Recipe”

  1. So pretty the colours. Haw flakes sounds like the “in” thing esp with the Taiwanese as they add them to everything to give it that slight sour taste. I sometimes boil it the dried version for a drink since it helps with digestion.

  2. Frankly, i have never use Haw flakes in any cooking or baking, just eat it straight away. I have seen this layer cake with haw flakes in some other blog before, thinking to give it a try also. Thanks for sharing.

  3. this is all time favourite cake! Every time when i go back, my mum sure order this cake for me. She use to do it, but now she is getting lazy and a lot of work too. Yum!

  4. Hello dear..auuww most welcome and thank you also for your tot. 🙂 …. (blush) Thank you for droppin by into my blog.Happy you find something thru it..You rite this kek lapis is very popular in Malaysia..but unfortunately I still didnt dare to do it by myself..hahaha..No skill for melapis I ges..BTW..yours look beautiful.keep it up.Looking forward for your next creation!

  5. ,,, haw flakes cake ! who could imagine this ? i like baking but baking doesn’t like me ( at the moment , i am just about finished with my giant haw flakes packet even with the “ban” on the coloring ) ,,,

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