Sticky Rice Layer Cake (Vegan/Gluten-Free)

sticky rice layer cake
Calvin Chan Wai Meng / Getty Images
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 1 cake
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1046 Calories
94g Fat
56g Carbs
10g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 1046
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 94g 120%
Saturated Fat 83g 415%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 77mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 56g 20%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 19g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 4mg 22%
Calcium 83mg 6%
Iron 15mg 82%
Potassium 981mg 21%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

I'm particularly proud of this cake since it has literally taken me years to get it right! It's made of sticky rice flour (also called glutinous rice flour or mochiko) and tapioca flour and is both gluten and lactose-free (and vegan). This type of rice cake can be found in many southeast-Asian countries, with slight variations according to the region and the chef. It has a satisfyingly sticky texture and tastes of coconut. Great with tea or coffee, this cake makes a nice dessert, breakfast, or snack with afternoon tea. Or make it for a potluck party where it will be eaten up in no time! ENJOY!

Recipe Tip

Make sure you buy glutinous rice flour as opposed to plain rice flour. It may be labeled as glutinous rice flour or called sweet rice flour or mochiko. You can find sweet rice flour in clear bags or look for a white box labeled "mochiko."


  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour

  • 2/3 cup tapioca flour, available at health food stores, or Asian/Chinese food stores

  • 1 (13 1/2-ounce) can plus 1/4 cup coconut milk

  • Pinch salt

  • 3/4 cup white sugar

  • 2 teaspoons coconut flavoring

  • 4 drops red food coloring, or other color(s) of your choice

  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut, for decoration, optional

Steps to Make It

For a step-by-step version of this cake recipe (but with more colors!), see my: How to Make "Rainbow" Sticky Rice Cake.

  1. Combine flours together in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and sugar and stir everything together.

  2. Add the coconut milk plus the coconut flavoring. Stir well by hand, or mix with electric beaters on low speed. I find a hand whisk works just fine.

  3. Once you have a fairly smooth batter, pour half of it into another bowl.

  4. Add a few drops of red food coloring to one of the bowls and stir to create a pink batter (or choose another color or colors according to your preference).

  5. Grease a loaf pan with a few drops of cooking oil (a glass one works well so you can see the layers as you add them, but it's not necessary).

  6. Place the loaf pan in a steamer, if you have one. If not, a flat-bottomed wok or large soup-type pot also works, as long as your loaf pan can fit inside it (I used a flat-bottomed wok for mine). You will also need a lid that will fit over both the loaf pan and the pot/wok.

  7. Pour some water into your steamer, or into the bottom of the pot or wok (around the loaf pan) - it should be at least 1 inch deep. Don't make the water too deep, or there will be too much splashing when it boils.

  8. Now pour roughly 1/3 of one color of batter (either pink or white) into the loaf pan. You can choose to make the layers thin or thick - anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 inch of batter is good.

  9. Bring the water to a bubbling boil, then reduce heat so that it is gently boiling around the loaf pan (If you're using a wok or pot, the boiling water may make the loaf pan rattle a little.) Cover the pot or wok/steamer with a tight-fitting lid so the cake can steam-cook.

  10. Steam for five minutes, or until the batter is firm to the touch. Then add your second layer on top. Tips: the second and subsequent layers will take slightly longer to cook - from 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the heat of your steamer. Cook until the middle of the cake is as firm to the touch as the outside. The cake will also rise slightly as it cooks. Also, be sure to add water to your steamer or wok/pot every 10 minutes or so.

  11. Continue adding layers and steaming the cake in the same way until nearly all the batter is used up. For the final layer, I like to add a few extra drops of red coloring to create a darker, contrasting top (see photo). Tips: It's better to overcook rather than undercook this cake (if you undercook some of the layers, they will turn out too soft and the cake won't hold together when sliced). Also, note that the middle of the cake may ripple towards the end - that is normal. The rippling effect will subside once it has cooled, and you won't notice it once the cake is sliced up.

  12. When cake is done cooking, remove the loaf pan from the steamer and allow it to cool at least 10 minutes. After it has cooled, place in the refrigerator. Chilling it will help it firm up so that slicing will be easier.

  13. When cake is cold, run a butter knife around the outside of the pan, then turn pan over and use the knife and your hands to nudge the cake out.

  14. To slice it, use a sharp, non-serrated knife and one smooth slicing motion from the top downward (try not to use too much of a sawing motion). You can simply serve this cake in slices or cut out shapes, such as diamonds or squares. Serve at room temperature. ENJOY!​

To store this cake: Place in a covered container or in a plastic bag. It can be stored for a day or two on your counter, then place in the refrigerator. I find it's best to eat this cake up within 3 days; after that, it loses its moistness and flavor.