Steamed Layer Cake (Banh Da Lon)

Steamed Layer Cake (Banh Da Lon) - These snack-sized bites are so hard to resist! | recipe from runawayrice.comMildly sweet with a chewy and sticky texture, this scrumptious steamed layer cake is a popular sweet treat that can be found in almost every Vietnamese bakery and grocery store.  The cake has such visual appeal with its vivid green and yellow layers and if you’ve ever wondered how this cake is made, wonder no more friends!  This post takes you through the recipe step-by-step and it’s really easy.  In addition, I share all the recipe tips and tricks so you can make this cake successfully every time.  Before trying the recipe, please read the below and watch the video.  Enjoy!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

The steaming technique is very important in this recipe.  Unlike some recipes where you try to generate as much steam as possible, this recipe is just the opposite.  The steam is gentle but constant.  Start by filling the steamer basin just half-way with water.  After bringing the water to a rapid boil, reduce the heat to Low for the duration of the steaming. Too much heat and steam will cause the cake to bubble and blister and become tough.  If you see the bubbles in the cake, reduce the heat.

Removing the lid throughout the cooking process to release the steam is a trick for getting a nice, smooth texture.

Ideally have a cake pan that just fits your steamer.  If the pan is really small in relation to the steamer and there is too much steam circulating, the cake may develop some bubbles.  It’s not the end of the world.  The cake will still taste delicious and most of the bubbles will go away once the cake cools.

Stir the batter before making each layer.  The green layer has a tendency to settle so make sure to mix it really well.

This recipe accommodates a 9-inch x 1.5-inch high round cake pan.  If you have a slightly larger cake pan, you can add more water or coconut milk to stretch the batters.

Check to see if a layer is done by lightly touching the cake with the back of a spoon.  If no batter sticks to the spoon, the cake is done.  If any batter sticks to the spoon, steam for another minute and then check again.  Below are the approximate steam times for each layer:

  • Layer 1 Green – 10 minutes
  • Layer 2 Yellow – 10 minutes
  • Layer 3 Green – 12 minutes
  • Layer 4 Yellow – 14 minutes
  • Layer 5 Green – 15 minutes

For the mini muffin pans, I make just 3 layers.  Use 1 tsp of green batter and 1 1/2 tsp of yellow batter.  The steam times are:

  • Layer 1 Green – 2 minutes
  • Layer 2 Yellow – 3 minutes
  • Layer 3 Green – 5 minutes

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may like: Tapioca and Mung Bean Cake (Banh Xu Xe/Banh Phu The)


Green Layer
1 1/2 cups tapioca starch
1/4 cup rice flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/4 tsp Pandan paste
1/4 tsp vegetable oil

Yellow Layer
1/2 cup peeled split mung bean
1/8 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups water
3/4 cup tapioca starch
2 Tbsp rice flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 oz coconut milk
2 drops yellow food coloring


Wash the mung bean by rinsing with cool water 3 times.  Cover the beans with hot water and let soak for 2 hours.

Rinse the beans with cool water again and drain well.

Transfer the beans into a saucepan along with the salt and 1 3/4 cups water.  Bring to a boil over High heat.  Stir and then reduce the heat to Low.  Skim off the foam and discard.  Cook the beans until the liquid is completely absorbed, approximately 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

For the yellow batter, add the cooked mung beans, tapioca starch, rice flour, sugar, coconut milk, and food coloring into the blender and mix on High for 30-45 seconds or until smooth.  Measure out 18 oz of the yellow batter and set aside for now.

To make the green batter, combine tapioca starch, rice flour and sugar in a large measuring cup.  Add the water and stir until the mixture is smooth.  Add the pandan paste and mix well.  This should yield 24 oz.  (If less, add water until you have 24 oz of batter.)

Using a paper towel, coat the cake pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil.

Fill the steamer basin halfway with water and then bring to a boil over High heat.  Reduce the heat to Low.  Place the empty cake pan into the steamer and steam for 2 minutes.

Layer 1: Stir the green batter.  Measure out 8 oz of batter and pour into the cake pan.  Cover and steam for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid to release the steam.  Cover and steam for another 5 minutes.

Layer 2: Stir the yellow batter.  Measure out 9 oz of batter and gently pour over the first layer.  Cover and steam for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid to release the steam.  Cover and steam for another 5 minutes.

Layer 3: Stir the green batter.  Measure out 8 oz of batter and gently pour over the back of a large spoon and into the cake pan.  Cover and steam for 6 minutes.  Remove the lid to release the steam.  Cover and steam for another 6 minutes.

Layer 4: Stir the yellow batter.  Pour the remaining batter into the pan.  Cover and steam for 7 minutes.  Remove the lid to release the steam.  Cover and steam for another 7 minutes.

Layer 5: Stir the green batter.  Gently pour the remaining batter over the back of a large spoon and into the cake pan.  Cover and steam for 7 minutes.  Remove the lid to release the steam.  Cover and steam for another 8 minutes.

Remove from the steamer and let cool for at least 1 hour.

Oil a large knife or wavy knife with vegetable oil.  Cut the cake into small pieces.  Enjoy!

Store any leftover cake in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  It’s good for up to 1 week.  Optionally, freeze the cake for up to 2 months.  To reheat, microwave on Low for 20-30 seconds.

Yields: 8-10 servings

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen


Steamed Layer Cake (Banh Da Lon) - Mildly sweet with a chewy, sticky texture, this cake is so addicting! |recipe from

Recipe Twist!

For a fun Halloween treat, swap out the Pandan paste for orange food coloring and make the cakes using these cute pumpkin silicone molds.  For each layer use 1 Tbsp of batter.  Steam each layer until it’s no longer tacky.  Approximate steam times are:

Layer 1 Orange – 3 minutes
Layer 2 Yellow – 3 minutes
Layer 3 Orange – 5 minutes
Layer 4 Yellow – 7 minutes
Layer 5 Orange – 8 minutes

A twist on the delicious Vietnamese Steamed Layer Cake (Banh Da Lon), this are super-cute Halloween treats! | recipe from

*This post contains affiliate links.*

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30 Responses to Steamed Layer Cake (Banh Da Lon)

  1. Amber April 19, 2018 at 4:55 pm #

    Hi Trang,

    Love your website! I have a question about substitutes for pandan paste in this recipe…I could only find the canned pandan extract when I first tried making this, and I think it was far too watery as my green layer never fully set (I added more than 1/4 tsp because the pandan flavor was really lacking). Would it work if I boiled and reduced the extract down until it is more concentrated? Or is the best flavor/texture from using pandan paste?

    • Trang April 20, 2018 at 7:00 pm #

      Hi Amber,
      Did you substitute the 2 cups water in the green layer with the canned pandan extract or add it in addition to the water?

      • Amber April 21, 2018 at 2:23 pm #

        I added it in addition…and now that you ask I realize I could try substituting for some or all of the water, right?

        • Trang April 23, 2018 at 12:34 pm #

          Yes Amber, that’s my suggestion. Give it another go. I look forward to hearing the results. Good Luck!

          • Amber April 28, 2018 at 9:07 am #

            Hi Trang,

            The result was MUCH better! The pandan flavor really came through, and the cake itself held together this time, so it also looked great.

            I still found that it took a long time to get the 2nd and final green layers to set (I would estimate 20-30 min for each!!), but the yellow layers went according to the instructions…so could just be my makeshift steamer (i.e. a large dutch oven with a rack placed inside). Either way, I’m definitely going to make this recipe again, so perhaps it’s time to invest in a proper steamer 🙂 Thanks a lot for the tip!

          • Trang April 29, 2018 at 9:45 pm #

            Hi Amber,
            I am so glad to hear you give the recipe another try and had much better results. Great job! The layers do take longer as more layers are added so it was good you adjusted the time. A good steamer is essential so I hope you get a good one for future recipes. Thanks for stopping back to share your results with me! 🙂

  2. Cindy Quach December 11, 2017 at 6:46 pm #

    these were amazing..thanks for sharing!

    • Trang December 11, 2017 at 6:55 pm #

      Hi Cindy, I am glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe! 🙂

  3. Gemma July 28, 2017 at 7:24 am #

    Hi Trang!

    How would I go about omitting the pandan paste and creating a coffee flavoured version of this lovely Vietnamese classic?

    • Trang July 28, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

      Hi Gemma,
      Replace the water in the green layer with brewed coffee. Make it as strong or as light as you prefer. Good luck with the recipe and please stop back to share your results.

  4. Chi Tat Lee May 12, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

    for the banh da lon, the yellow part my blender didn’t blend because the yellow part too thick or my blender is not enough power, can use in another way

    • Trang May 15, 2017 at 3:43 pm #

      Hi Chi Tat,
      Try this alternative if your blender is not powerful enough: Blend just the cooked mung beans with the coconut milk and sugar until smooth. Now add the tapioca starch and rice flour to the blended mung bean and mix together by hand.
      Good Luck!

  5. Syranna March 10, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

    why do we need 1 1/2 cup tapioca starch and 1/4 cup of rice flour for the green layer? just wondering…

    • Trang March 12, 2017 at 7:53 pm #

      Hi, that combination starch/flour is needed to get the right balance chewy and soft cake. Hope that helps.

  6. Julie September 11, 2016 at 8:16 pm #

    Hi Trang! For this recipe, is it okay to use glutinous rice flour instead of rice flour?

    Thank you!

    • Trang September 12, 2016 at 2:48 pm #

      Hi Julie,
      The rice flour is used to tone-down the stickiness of the tapioca starch. Glutinous rice flour is not the right substitute as it also has the sticky component. It won’t ruin the cake if you use glutinous rice flour but I recommend you use rice flour or just use all tapioca starch. Good Luck!

  7. Michael wong April 15, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

    Hi Trang,can you please advise what the correct size of the cup used for the measurement for the Banh Da Lon.Thanks

    • Trang April 17, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

      Hi Michael,
      I use an American cup which is 8 fluid ounces or 240 ml. Hope that helps.

  8. Mai October 24, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    Thanks so much for the recipe! I have always wanted to try making this. But when I mixed the yellow batter together, it only came out to 14 ounces? Not 18.

    • Trang October 25, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

      Hi Mai,

      Just add more water or coconut milk until you have 18 ounces. I also try to scrape out every bit of the batter from the blender. Hope that help! 🙂

  9. Lynn October 23, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    Hi Trang,
    I just want to thank you of your recipes, easy to make cut down of sugar, keep posting a new one love it a lot of, I will try how to make banh da lon today. Thanks again

    • Trang October 23, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

      Hi Lynn,

      It’s my pleasure and I am so happy to share my recipes. I try to reduce the sugar in most of the desserts 🙂 Good luck with your Banh Da Lon. Please let me know how it turns out for you.

      • Lynn October 23, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

        Hi Trang, banh da lon came out pretty good. Thanks again. Oh I forgot tell you about Japanese cheese cake, pound cake so yummy too. I baked them 2 weeks ago. I’m your fan now, love you.

        • Trang October 25, 2015 at 7:58 pm #

          Hi Lynn,

          I am glad to hear you enjoyed the banh da lon and Japanese cheesecake recipes. Thank you for taking the time to share your results. I really appreciate your support 🙂

          • Lynn November 2, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

            Hi Trang,
            I’m still waiting for a new sweet things, or some thing please post on. Thank’s.

          • Trang November 3, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

            Hi Lynn,

            Is there a particular “sweet” recipe you’re interested in? 🙂

  10. Thanh-Van October 22, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    Hi Trang,
    By using mini muffin tray, will the steam time be same at 10 min. each layer?
    Thank you.

    • Trang October 22, 2015 at 10:37 pm #

      Hi Thanh-Van,

      For the mini muffin pans, I make just 3 layers. Use 1 tsp of green batter and 1 1/2 tsp of yellow batter. The steam times are: Layer 1 Green – 2 minutes, Layer 2 Yellow – 3 minutes, Layer 3 Green – 5 minutes
      Let me know if you have any questions! 🙂

  11. Ann October 22, 2015 at 5:59 am #

    If we use cupcake molds to steam the cake, how long is the cooking time for each stage please?

    • Trang October 22, 2015 at 10:34 pm #

      Hi Ann,

      Mini-Muffins: Layer 1 Green – 2 minutes, Layer 2 Yellow – 3 minutes, Layer 3 Green – 5 minutes
      Regular Muffins: Layer 1 Green – 3 minutes, Layer 2 Yellow – 3 minutes, Layer 3 Green – 5 minutes, Layer 4 Yellow – 7 minutes, Layer 5 Green – 8 minutes
      Hope you give the recipe a try!

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