Kek Masam Manis | Sarawak Layered Steamed Cake

This is my 2nd attempt in making this traditional steamed cake from Sarawak. One of my friends handed me a handwritten recipe and a bag of never seen before old school biscuits from Malaysia. She insist me of trying it out. I did, and it failed epically at my 1st attempt despite following the recipe closely. This is the hand written recipe and my epic failed Instagram post:

I decided to give it another go, but this time, I will be following my gut instead of following the recipe. I figured out that by separating the eggs into yolks and whites will create lots of air pockets during final steaming process. You can see all the large holes and unevenness from my Instagram post. I also used an electric steamer for better temperature control and regulating; this is a layered steam cake afterall, so I guess everything has to be precise.

That is the biscuit that I used. It has to be that brand as I was told other brands will not work. Somehow, I managed to get my hands on that old school haw flakes. These haw flakes are super sweet already, hence I reduced the sugar and condensed milk in half. I don't know if it is my tastebuds, I personally find that the haw flakes doesn't go really well with the cake as a whole.

My kids said that the haw flakes look like pepperoni. Lol! They do! I added pandan paste and cocoa powder to the layers for extra flavorings rather than just plain food coloring as shown on the recipe. This indeed takes a lot of effort and time, but it is well worth it at the end. The cake is moist, dense and soft. I will definitely revisit this recipe again in the near future, but with a square cake pan instead. As you can see that the edges are ugly and need to be trimmed off to reveal the beautiful layers. Anyway, I hope you will try this cake out and reminisce the good old tradition and culture of Sarawak.


(Make one 8 inch cake)

  • Unsalted Butter Room Temperature, 250g + More For Greasing

  • Granulated Sugar, 75g

  • Sweetened Full Cream Condensed Milk, 200g

  • Eggs Room Temperature, 5

  • Ground Biscuit Powder Malaysian Chicken Brand, 150g

  • Pure Vanilla Extract, 1/2 TSP

  • High Quality Unsweetened Cocoa Powder Preferably Valrhona, 2 TBSP

  • Pure Pandan Paste, 1/2 TSP

  • Haw Flakes, 78 pieces


  • Hand / Stand Mixer

  • Electric Steamer

  • Round 8 Inch Cake Pan


  1. Grease cake pan with butter and line bottom and sides with parchment paper.

  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar with a hand or stand mixer.

  3. Cream until light and fluffy.

  4. Add in condensed milk.

  5. Continue creaming until well combined.

  6. In another bowl, add in eggs.

  7. Whisk the eggs until beaten thru, preferably with a hand or stand mixer.

  8. Add the beaten eggs into the butter mixture.

  9. Still using a hand or stand mixer, mix until well combined.

  10. Switching to a spatula, mix in the biscuit powder.

  11. *Grind the biscuits with a spice grinder or a food processor until powder forms.*

  12. Divide the batter into 2 equal portions with a weighing scale.

  13. Add in vanilla and sieve in cocoa powder into 1 portion.

  14. Add in pandan onto another portion.

  15. Mix until well combined.

  16. Prepare a steamer and set the temperature on medium.

  17. Wrap the cover of a steamer with kitchen towel or cling film.

  18. *This will prevent water vapor from dripping onto the cake.*

  19. Lay the 1st layer of cocoa or pandan batter into the cake pan.

  20. *I did that my calculating and dividing to get precise amount of batter for each layer.*

  21. Place haw flakes on top of the batter, I did it 8-4-1.

  22. Steam for 5 mins or until pass the skewer test.

  23. Remove from heat, lay another layer of cake batter, alternating.

  24. Place haw flakes on top of the batter.

  25. Steam for 5 mins or until pass the skewer test.

  26. Repeat the process of layering and steaming until all the layers are steamed thru.

  27. Steam the last layer for about 10 mins or until pass the skewer test.

  28. *While steaming, be sure there is enuff water.*

  29. Remove from heat and set aside to cool down completely, about 1 hr.

  30. Unmold, slice and serve.

  31. It will taste better the next day.

#hawflakes #sarawak #steamedcakes #pandan #chocolate #indulgence

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