Multi-colored Sweet Rice Cake 

Sapin-sapin is a steamed sweet rice cake, with colorful layers of purple, red, yellow and white and topped with toasted coconut.

This recipe is a mix of the sweet and regular rice flour in coconut milk and flavored with anise seed.

The mix is then divided into 4, one stays as white, one colored with bright yellow, one in bright red and the last one in deep purple.

The purple is then flavored with powdered ube (purple yam), but can be optional if not available.

The challenge is in the steaming, wherein each layer is cooked after another, making sure each one is set solid before each addition.

The topping is made by toasting shredded coconut until golden brown, and then ground coarsely for an even size and appearance.


  • Glutinous OR Sweet Rice Flour
  • Rice Flour
  • Coconut Milk
  • Coconut Cream
  • Anise Seed
  • Red, Yellow, Purple Food Color
  • Ube Powder or Purple Yam Powder (optional)


  • Sugar
  • Vegetable Oil


  • 1 1/2 cup Glutinous or Sweet Rice Flour
  • 1 1/4 cup Rice Flour
  • 1 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 3 cups Coconut Milk
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon Anise Seed
  • Red, Yellow, Purple Food Color
  • 1/4 cup Ube Powder or Purple Yam Powder (optional)
  • 2 cups Shredded Dried Coconut

  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil

1 Mix together the sweet and regular rice flours, sugar and coconut milk, strain until flour is dissolved.

2 Divide the mix into 4, about 1 1/4 cup each bowl.

3 Using yellow food color, put about 8-10 drops on one of the bowls, and mix in 1/4 tsp anise seed. Set aside.

4 Put about 8-10 drops red food color in one of the bowls, then add 1/4 tsp. anise seed. Set aside.

5 Measure 1/4 cup powdered Ube and dissolve in one of the bowls, and add 4-5 drops purple food color. Set aside.

6 Add the coconut cream to the last bowl to make it pearly white.

7 Set the steamer, then prepare 2 pieces 6-inch aluminum foils by brushing the bottom and sides with oil.

8 Starting with purple, pour half of the mix on each of the foils, steam for 7-8 minutes or until set.

9 Then pour yellow, and cook for 7-8 minutes, same with the red and lastly the white.

10 Separately on a shallow pan, toast the shredded coconut until golden brown, then cool down a bit and grind coarsely.

11 To assemble, invert the cooked sapin-sapin cake on a serving plate, divide in 8 and top with coconut bits on center of each slice. Serve extra toasted coconut on the side.


  • Omit the anise seed if you prefer, just add a teaspoon of vanilla instead.

  • The anise seed is added only to the yellow and red because the purple is already flavored and the white has to remain immaculately white.

  • No purple food color, mix blue and red until you get your desired shade.

  • Just like in kalamay, try using kitchen shears to cut the Sapin-sapin, it's so much easier than using a knife.

  • Try to make a cover for the foil so the moisture from the steamer lid doesn't go into the cake. You could cut a round cardboard (slightly bigger than the foil) and cover with aluminum foil.

  • Be extra careful when taking the lid out to check for doneness as steam coming out of the foil is just as dangerous as frying in hot oil.

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