Seri muka (Malaysian steamed cake)

Seri muka is a Malaysian steamed layer cake (kuih) which consist of a glutinous rice layer steamed with coconut milk and a sweet pandan custard layer to finish off. It’s green layer should come from the pandan leaf, but I do not have so I use pandan essence. Seri muka is an all-time favourite kuih among the Peranakan (Nyonya) especially my family.

Seri muka is certainly delightful—sweet, loaded with coconut milk, with a nice sticky texture. In Malaysia, seri muka is found in morning markets, school canteens, cake stands and just about every place that has a person selling kuih’s. It is eaten as a dessert, a snack, or at teatime.

My grandma used to make this kuih back in Penang. Then last year my sister tried and share it with me. After a few attempts in making, it did turn out good, with some cracks and not very smooth still. It’s delicious, with a cup of coffee in the morning, or as an afternoon snack. Let’s cook!!!!


Glutinous layer

500 g glutinous rice, soak in hot water for 1 hour, drain
200 ml coconut milk
100 ml water
1 1/2 Tbs sugar
1 1/4 Tsp salt

Pandan layer

200 ml cream coconut milk (thick)
2 large eggs or 3 small eggs, beaten
6 Tbs plain flour
6 Tbs cornflour
180 g sugar
1 drop of pandan essence
a pinch of salt


Spray with cooking spray on round tray about 9”. Mix all the ingredients for glutinous layer and place the tray on steam using a wok with water and rack on high heat for 20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the pandan layer. Mix the eggs, coconut milk, sugar, both flour and pandan essence together in pot. Stir until smooth. Cook over slow fire. Stir continuously and cook till custard starts to thicken about 15 minutes.

After 20 minutes, take out the glutinous rice mixture, stir, fluff rice and flatten it with a spoon or potato masher. Make sure it is compact and there are no holes/air bubbles and gaps in the rice, especially the sides. Steam for another 10 minutes. Remove from steamer on to a chopping board. Be careful it’s very hot, wear rubber gloves and use mittens.

Pour the pandan mixture through a sieve onto glutinous mixture, give it a little tap (release air bubbles) and continue to steam on medium heat for 30 minutes. Make sure there are enough water in wok. Remove seri muka from the steamer and let cool completely about 1-2 hour before cutting the seri muka into triangle or rectangle-shaped pieces. Enjoy!!!!

Note: Wrap the wok cover with cloth tightly to prevent water from dropping in. Glutinous rice layer has to be hot while pouring in the pandan layer otherwise it will not stick to each other.

If you do not have fresh pandan leaves, you can use pandan essence like I did. Store them in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate, this will make the glutinous rice layer to become very hard. It’s best to eat within 24 hours.