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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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Plantains, Cassava and Tapioca Pearls Dessert (Che Chuoi Khoai Mi Bot Bang)

Diet friendly without sacrificing the taste -- check out my recipe redo!

This scrumptious Viet dessert is made with plantains and cassava cooked into a sweet and creamy tapioca pudding.  For those not familiar with this dessert, it is decadently sweet and rich thanks to the generous use of sugar and coconut milk as per the traditional recipe.  As good as the first bite always tastes,  I find this dessert to be overly sweet and way to heavy that I can’t get past the richness to enjoy the textures and flavors of the plantains and cassava.  Not willing to forego such an amazing dessert, I revamped this recipe to be more health-conscious and palatable.  There are obvious ingredients that I cut back on but the true twist on this recipe is the use of coconut water.  The coconut water is naturally sweet and adds wonderful flavor to this dessert without the heaviness of coconut milk.  Because coconut milk is so prevalent in Viet desserts, it’s real easy to substitute coconut water for some of the coconut milk in efforts to lighten a dish.  In most cases, you can adjust the recipe by substituting half of the coconut milk required with coconut water.  I hope you’ll give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.  Here’s to better health and trimmer waistlines! 🙂

Notes on the recipe

Use fresh or frozen cassava as I showed in the video.  The frozen cassava is super-convenient and a great timesaver.  When boiling the cassava, be careful not to overcook it initially.  Keep in mind the cassava will be cooked again in the pudding.  A good test to see if the cassava is adequately cooked is to cut it using a fork.  You should be able to cut it easily, but the cassava piece should hold its shape and not get smashed by the fork.

You can use plantains or manzano bananas in this recipe.  Manzano or “Apple Bananas” are smaller than regular bananas and rather plump.  Like plantains they have a firmer texture and drier taste than regular bananas.   Just a note of advice, regular bananas are not right for this recipe as they get really mushy when cooked.  I use what’s immediately available and living in San Diego, I can find plantains just about everywhere.

The use of Pandan leaves imparts a wonderful aroma to the dessert.  I personally love the smell of Pandan leaves and use it liberally.  If you don’t have fresh or frozen leaves, use Pandan extract or essence.

For the tapioca pearls, I use the smallest ones so I don’t have to cook them in advance.  Just add the pearls toward the end to thicken the syrup into a pudding.  Some people like their desserts soupy and others like it really thick so feel free to adjust the amount of tapioca pearls accordingly.  A quick tip, don’t rinse the tapioca pearls too early.  The water causes them to soften and they will disintegrate when added to the rest of the ingredients if soaked too far in advance.  Also after adding them to the pot, stir minimally so they don’t dissolve.

Adjust the sugar levels to your preference and use a sugar substitute intended for cooking or baking if you’d desired.

If you’re not a fan of coconut milk, try using half-and-half or whipping cream.

Lastly, for those interested in the original recipe, adjust the recipe as follows:
– 1 cup sugar (instead of 1/2 cup) or more per your preference
– Use water instead of the coconut water
– 2 cups coconut milk (instead of 1/2 cup)
– 2/3 cup tapioca pearls

Watch the video below for instructions.

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1 lb cassava (fresh or frozen)
1 lb plantains or manzano bananas
1 oz Pandan leaves (fresh or frozen)
2 cups coconut water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup tapioca pearls
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup roasted crushed peanuts


If using frozen cassava, cut in half lengthwise.  Remove the fibrous core.  Cut each section in half again lengthwise.  Then cut into 1/2-inch chunks

If using fresh cassava, cut off the ends.  Cut the cassava into 3 equal sections.  Take one of the cassava sections and using a sharp knife, make one deep cut through the skin starting from the top to the bottom.  Work the knife blade under the skin.  Peel off the skin and discard.  Use a vegetable peeler to remove any remaining skin.   Cut the cassava as instructed above.

Place the cassava into a bowl filled with cool water.  Allow to soak for 1 hour.

Fill a saucepan halfway with water and then add the cassava.  Add 1/8 teaspoon salt.  Cover and bring the water to a boil.  Stir together, cover and cook on Low heat for 5 minutes.  Transfer to colander and let drain.

Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Add the whole plantains or bananas.  Cover the pot and cook on Low heat for 5 minutes.  Remove from the hot water and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove the skin from the plantains or bananas and then cut into bite-sized pieces.

Divide the stack of Pandan leaves in half.  Take one of the stems and tie it around one of the stacks.  Repeat the same step with the other stack to make two small bundles.

Use a sieve to rinse the tapioca pearls in cool water and then drain well.

In a medium saucepan, add the coconut water, sugar and Pandan leaves.  Stirring constantly cook over Low heat until the sugar is dissolved.   Add the cassava and plantains or bananas into the syrup and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.  Make sure everything is touching the liquid.  Add more coconut water if needed so it just barely covers the plantains and cassava.

Add the tapioca pearls and gently combine with everything else.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until the pearls turn from white to translucent.  Turn off the heat and then add the coconut milk and 1/8 teaspoon salt.  Gently stir everything together.  Let the dessert rest for 5-7 minutes to cool and thicken.

To serve, spoon a generous amount into a dessert bowl and drizzle some of the sauce on top.  Sprinkle with the roasted crushed peanuts.

Yields: 4-6 servings

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Tapioca and Mung Bean Cake (Banh Xu Xe / Banh Phu The)

This Vietnamese dessert is visually intriguing with its translucent bright green color.  For those unaccustomed to Asian desserts with an alien-green color, please try to overcome your apprehensions and give them a try.  You will be pleasantly surprised!  Pandan paste is what gives the cake its vibrant green color and floral aroma.  Made of tapioca starch and filled with sweetened mung bean and coconut flakes, this steamed cake will satisfy your sugar cravings.  The glutinous texture is rather unique and as a child I remember playing with the stretchy, sticky cake before eating it!  Yes, to this day, I still play with my food! 🙂

The typical method of making this cake is to roll it in plastic wrap so it looks like a nugget.  I am not entirely convinced that steaming food in plastic wrap is safe and so I’ve changed the preparation.  I use silicone baking cups lined with banana leaves.  The banana leaves add a lovely aroma and they make cleaning the baking cups much easier.  Tapioca starch is quite gluey and sticks to everything!  If you don’t have banana leaves handy, use foil baking cups.  I buy banana leaves in the freezer section of my Asian grocery store.  To defrost, I simply run the leaf under warm water and shake off the excess water.  Then I cut the leaves to the needed size.  Any remaining leaves, I place in a resealable plastic bag and pop it back in the freezer.

Watch the video below for instructions.

For the Filling:
1/2 cup mashed Mung Bean
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp coconut flakes
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Dough:
2 cups tapioca starch
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp pandan paste
1/2 cup coconut flakes

16-4-inch squares of banana leaves
silicone baking cups
2 tsp vegetable oil


Place a square of banana leaf on top of the baking cup and gently press the leaf inside the cup.  Flip the cup over and trim the excess leaf with scissors.  Continue lining all cups.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the filling.  Mix until a soft paste forms.

In a medium saucepan, add the tapioca starch, sugar, water, vegetable oil and pandan extract.  Whisk until starch and sugar is dissolve and mixture is smooth.  Put the saucepan over low heat and stir continuously.  In 2-3 minutes, the mixture starts to thicken.  Turn off the heat but continue stirring as sauce thickens and becomes a soft dough.  When the dough starts pulling away from the saucepan, remove from the stove.  Add coconut flakes and stir quickly blending well.

Spoon a tablespoonful of dough into the cup.  Add a teaspoon of filling in the center.  Add another spoonful of dough on top.  Spread the dough evenly in the cup.  Continue until all cups are filled.

Steam the cakes for 15 minutes.  Remove from steamer and allow to cool for at least one hour before serving.

To serve, peel off banana leaf and enjoy!  Cakes can be refrigerated for up to a week.  Warm in the microwave for 10-15 seconds before eating.  They can also be frozen for several months.

Yields: 16 cakes

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