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.

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Sapin Sapin
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 3 cups glutinous-rice flour
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • ½ can 400g condensed milk
  • 6 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup grated ube (purple yam)
  • 2 tsp annatto powder
  • ½ tsp anise extract
  • ⅓ 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.
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.



40 Responses

  1. This looks absolutely amazing! The colours are gorgeous!

  2. Love those colours & textures! One of my favourite ingredients is taro/puts yam and sweet sticky rice! Looks so delicious πŸ™‚ ps, I need an applause button too..,

  3. Never had anything like that, the colors are so vibrant — I do like coconut though, so I think I’d like it.

  4. Gracie says:

    Yum. Looks so delicious!

  5. Very colorful, and no artificial coloring. Thats a plus

  6. Michelle says:

    You always have the most interesting desserts!

  7. Leah says:

    Did you use a loaf pan?

      • kandawe says:

        I wish you could research on an original sapin sapin recipe that is not all made from glutinuous rice. Noong unang panahon, ang sapin sapin daw ay tinawag na sapin sapin dahil ito ay gawa sa apat o limang pilipinong kakanin na pinag patung patong. Halaya made from glutinuous rice na pardo ang ginamit na pampatamis (brown) , haleyang ube (violet), kutsinta na atsuwete ang ginamit na pangkulay (orange), maja blanca (white) . Ang pinaka topping ay custard na may caramel syrup. This is according to my lola. Minsan naming hinainan ng present day sapin sapin. Sabi niya, pati raw sapin sapin ay nabago na ng panahon. Yun nga, dinescribe na niya ang oroginal recipe. Pinaninipis lang daw bawat kakanin noon para di gaanong makapal pag pinagpatung patong at saka matagal gawin. Hula ko, magastos din, ha! ha!

  8. I love the bright refreshing colors πŸ™‚ This dessert is new to me but one that looks really tempting

  9. Favorite dessert on every Filipino parties. Very colorful and really best with extra browned and toasted coconut. Your photo is making me want to make some. πŸ™‚

  10. mjskit says:

    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! πŸ™‚ )

  11. huntfortheverybest says:

    very pretty! i’d like to try it.

  12. foodjaunts says:

    Yummy! Perfect fiesta food

  13. shoe gal says:

    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

    • rsmacaalay says:

      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.

      • shoe gal says:

        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!

    • rsmacaalay says:

      Yes you need to cover it, the steam cooks your rice cake

  14. Swee San Lim says:

    Hi, is there any substitute for annatto powder ?

  15. iris says:

    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

    • Raymund says:

      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.

  16. Aurora says:

    How early can you prepare this

  17. Enz F says:

    This is one of my favorite pinoy kakanin. The photo looks so gorgeous! πŸ™‚

  18. Lielani says:

    Is it really 6 cans of coconut milk? Isn’t it too much?

  19. Ebba says:

    Its says 6 cups not cans.

  20. lani says:

    What size of loaf pan did u use?

  21. Agnes says:

    Hi! Wont the plastic cling wrap melt in the steamer? Is this the ordinary cling wrap we buy in the grocery?

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