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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bánh Chín Tầng Mây (Nine Layers Cake)

One of the Christmas presents my daughters received was a tea set. So, they've been anxious to have a tea party. Tonight, they're waiting for me to finish making a cake for their tea party.

Bánh Da Lợn, which is another name for Chín Tầng Mây translates to "Nine Layer Cake" in Chinese which apparently is due to the number of layers on the cake. According to the Chinese, nine is a lucky number and it is an auspicious word to signify longevity. 

In Vietnamese, the meaning of "Da Lợn" is "Pork Skin" as the cake is chewy and has texture like pork skin. In addition, the cake has many layers, resembling of the pork belly (thịt ba chỉ) as the meat and fat form multiple layers.

All the ingredients that created this cake compliment each other well. The rice flour and tapioca are added to give a soft, more bouncy and chewier texture; mung bean is added to enhance the starchy taste; fresh pandan leaves (Lá Dứa) gives a sweet taste and a unique aroma to the cake; and coconut milk gives a sweet and nice rich flavour. Each layer of the cake can be separated and my kids love to peel them off to enjoy.
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RECIPE: Bánh Chín Tầng Mây


Making Flour Mixture 
1 1/2 cups Tapioca Flour
1/2 cup Rice Flour
1 can 13.5 oz Coconut Milk 
1 1/4 cups Sugar 
1 cup Water, for dissolving the sugar 
In a sauce pan, heat water and sugar until dissolved.  Set aside.  In a bowl, mix the rice flour and tapioca flour.  Add coconut milk and sugar mixture to the flour mixture until it is smooth.  Divide flour mixture into 2 bowls.
Making Mung Bean Paste and Mung Bean Mixture

1/2 cup Mung Bean
1 cup water
1 bowl of Flour Mixture
Rinse, drain and bring mung bean and water to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer with a pot lid on until soften. Make 1 cup of mung bean paste.
In a food processor, process 1/2 cup of a flour mixture bowl and 1 cup of mung bean paste until smooth. Mix mung bean paste mixture with the remaining flour mixture.

Making Pandan Mixture

6-7 Pandan Leaves (can be found at any Asian grocery stores in frozen section) or substitute for a few drops of pandan extract
6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) Water
1 bowl of Flour Mixture

In a food processor, blend pandan leaves and water. If it's too thick, add 1/2 cup of a flour mixture. Drain the pandan through a fine strainer and discard the pandan residue. Add the pandan mixture to the flour mixture. For a darker color of green, add just a drop of pandan extract to the mixture. I didn't use it in mine, therefore, the cake has a very light yellowish in color.

Mung Bean Mixture and Pandan Mixture
Steaming Cake

Add water in a steamer and bring to a boil. Line parchment paper in a 8” pan then oil the pan. Place the pan into the steamer. Low the heat to Medium.
Start with the Pandan layer then Mung Bean layer. The nineth layer should be a Pandan layer, if the measurement is correct.
Pour about 2/3 cup of the pandan mixture to cover up the surface of the pan. Cover a pot with a kitchen towel then place a pot lid on top. This will prevent steaming water droplets from getting into the cake.
For each layer, steam for 4 minutes until the layer is just hard enough to support the next layer.
After the last layer, steam for another 10 minutes to make sure all the layers are cooked thoroughly.
Remove the pan from steamer and allow the cake to cool completely before slicing them.



  1. Yum, despite the comparison to pork skin and pork fat :/ But it is what it is. I'm confused. For the flour mixture ingredients, you list 1/2 cup of hot water to dissolve the sugar, but your directions say to mix 1 1/4 cups of boiling water and sugar. So is it 1/2 cup of water or 1 1/4 cups? where's the 1/2 cup? Thanks

  2. What part of the comparision are you confused about?
    Thanks for catching the typos. I corrected it.

  3. can i use glutinous rice flour?

  4. I haven't tried it with glutinous rice flour. But since glutinous rice has sticky texture, I am just afraid if you use it, the cake might become too soft and sticky.
    But why not give it a try and let me know how it turns out :->.

  5. E lam banh da lon hai lan roi....hai lan deu rat dep va ngon nhung sao no hoi mui nguoi deu khen ngon nhung lam sao de kg con mui bot nua? banh cua chi co mui bot kg vay hay la that is how it suppost to be?

  6. Vậy chắc la bột cũ đó. Bánh chị làm không có hôi mùi bột gì hết đó. Lan sau em mua bot o tiem khac roi thu lai xem.