7 May 2022
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One of my favorite Vietnamese desserts is bánh da lợn, a colorful green and yellow steamed layer cake. You can easily spot this dessert at a Vietnamese bakery by its beautiful alternating layers of yellow and green.
This cake is made up of a base mixture of rice flour, glutinous rice flour, tapioca starch, coconut milk and sugar. The mixture is then equally divided into two, and flavored with pandan for the green layer and sweetened mung bean paste for the yellow layer. It’s then steamed, layer by layer.
It’s not overly sweet like other desserts. It’s springy, chewy, and slightly sticky. It’s the perfect dessert to satisfy a sweet craving without the sugar rush. Best of all, it’s so much fun to eat. You can separate the layers of the cake and enjoy each layer one by one, which is what I love and must do every time I have this cake.
I introduced this cake to my daughter recently and she too loves it. She pulls off a layer, gives it a jiggle, then pops it in her mouth, just like mommy.
You don’t need a Vietnamese bakery to enjoy bánh da lợn. If you have the time (and a steamer basket and blender), it’s actually quite simple to make at home. Most of the time is spent waiting for each layer to finish steaming. Other than that, it’s a piece of cake. Pun intended.
There are popular tweaks to the traditional cake. Some cakes use durian instead of mung bean for the yellow layer. Some use taro for an additional purple layer. I’m sticking to the traditional cake below. Happy steaming!
Yield 4 servingsAuthor Vicky PhamPrep time10 MinCook time45 MinTotal time55 Min
Vietnamese Steamed Layer Cake with Pandan and Mung Bean Paste (Bánh Da Lợn)
A colorful green and yellow Vietnamese steamed layer cake that’s semi-sweet, slightly sticky, perfectly chewy, and springy. It’s the perfect to go with tea. Plus, it’s so fun to eat!
Yellow Mung Bean Batter
Green Pandan Batter
Make the Yellow Mung Bean Batter
- In a sieve or colander with small holes, wash dried mung beans until water runs clear then transfer to a small pot. Add salt and water to cover by 3-inches. Cook until softened on medium-low heat, uncovered. Add more water if needed to continue cooking (water will be discarded). Transfer cooked mung beans to a small colander to remove excess water, if any.
- To a blender, add cooked mung beans, tapioca starch, rice flour, coconut milk, vanilla extract, and sugar. Blend until smooth. Pass the mixture through a large sieve to remove any clumps.
Make the Green Pandan Batter
- Rinse the blender. Add pandan leaves and water. Blend until smooth and strain liquid through a sieve to extract the liquid. Discard the pandan pulp.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together, tapioca starch, rice flour, glutinous rice flour, sugar, salt, coconut milk, and pandan gel extract. Pass the mixture through a large sieve to remove any clumps.
Divide the Batter and Steam the Layers
- Use a large steamer that will fit a 7-inch circular cake pan. You can also use multiple smaller cake pans. Get the steamer ready by filling the basin halfway with water. Bring the water to a low simmer. It’s important to have a gentle boil to prevent bubbles from forming on the cake surface. Wrap the steamer lid in a large kitchen towel. This will prevent water from falling back into the cake when steaming.
- Divide the green batter equally between 4 small bowls. Divide the yellow batter equally between 3 small bowls. It’s best to use a kitchen scale to ensure equal weight so that all the layers will be even. The cake will have a total of 7 layers.
- Brush vegetable oil on a 7-inch circular pan. Steam the oiled pan by itself for 5 minutes. Add a portion of green batter in the pan. Steam for 5 minutes. Then add a portion of yellow batter on top of the steamed green layer. Steam for another 5 minutes. Continue this pattern until all batter portions are used up.
- Allow cake to cool completely then cut into individual servings and enjoy.
2-Tier Stainless Steel Steamer, 11-Inch Multi-Layer Boiler Pot with Handles7 inch cake pan, 3″ deep
The values provided should be considered estimates. Factors such as brands purchased, natural variations in fresh ingredients, etc. will change the nutritional information in any recipe. To obtain accurate nutritional information for a recipe, use your preferred nutrition calculator to determine nutritional information with the actual ingredients and quantities used.
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