Sapin Sapin

Sapin Sapin

Sapin-sapin is a sticky rice cake from the Philippines, it originated in a northern province called Abra. The name came from the word sapin which means sheets or layer, it is also the main characteristic of this rice cake, its vibrant multi coloured layers. It is made out of steamed glutinous rice flour served with latik and/or toasted coconut. Usually it is made with 3 to 4 layers which have a slight variation in taste and texture, the purple layer usually consists of purple yam, the orange layer have a hint of aniseed, the white layer contains young coconut meat and green is flavoured with pandan.

It might look hard to make but trust me it is really easy. The only hard part in making this one is the waiting time, because you have to individually steam each layer before adding a new one in, this method makes sure that colours and flavours won’t mix together.


3 cups glutinous-rice flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 can 400g condensed milk
6 cups coconut milk
1 cup grated ube (purple yam)
2 tsp annatto powder
1/2 tsp anise extract
1/3 cup macapuno, drained and  finely chopped
1 cup desiccated coconut


1. In a large mixing bowl combine together glutinous-rice flour, sugar, condensed milk and coconut milk.
2. Divide into 3 equal portions then place on 3 individual bowls.
3. In the first bowl add grated ube, mix well until smooth
4. In the second bowl add annatto powder and anise extract, mix well until smooth
5. In the third bowl add macapuno, mix well until smooth
6. Place the first mixture (purple) in a greased pan lined with cling wrap then place in a steamer and steam for 15-20 minutes or until the mixture sets. Remove from steamer.
7. Add the second mixture (orange) on top of the steamed mixture, place back in the steamer and steam for 15 -20 minutes or until the mixture sets. Remove from steamer.
8. Add the last mixture (white) on top of the steamed mixture, place back in the steamer and steam for 30 more minutes.
9. Remove from steamer; let it cool before slicing and serving.
10. In a pan desiccated coconut, toast using low heat until golden brown in colour. Serve sapin sapin topped with toasted coconut flakes.

Note : I updated the above recipe as one reader noticed the measurements were wrong, apologies if someone earlier used the old recipe I missed an ingredient on the first version and wrongly indicated the amount.

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24 thoughts on “Sapin Sapin

  1. I’m totally speechless! It’s how I felt when I first saw Ray’s ube ice cream. I love purple, but seeing purple food is so unusual. I thought it was food coloring then I saw you too used ube! Now I really need to find some! Sticky rice is my favorite Asian dessert and this one looks absolutely amazing! (Love the video! :) )

  2. when you say put pan in a steamer- what exactly does that mean? Can I do this step in the oven? I would love to try to make this put don’t have a steamer

    • It should be cooked in a steamer, baking it would give a different result.
      If you don’t have a steamer you can use a large pot with water, place some empty tin cans to hold your pan above the water.

      • Thanks so much. so the bottom of the loaf pan should be slightly above the water… do you cover the pot to keep the steam in? sorry for so many questions… would love to make for my inlaws for easter!

  3. i;m pretty sure i followed the instructions correctly…but my mixtures in each of the three bowls were super sticky and and not liquidy…is it suppose to be like that..and the orangy bowl had too mcuh anise flavor

    • Hi iris thanks for your comments, it should be not sticky and not too liquidy as well. Have to double check my measurements first, I am afraid I have it written wrongly here. Apologies for the mistake will rectify it soon.

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