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+ servings
Two pieces of custard and coconut layer cake.

Seri Muka - Coconut Pandan Layer Cake

Cute, colourful and delicious, Kuih Seri Muka is a salty sweet treat that's totally moreish! This traditional Nyonya dessert is the perfect combo of coconut rice with a sweet layer of pandan custard.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Malaysian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Soaking Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Calories 129kcal
Cost $8


For the rice layer:

  • 1 cup glutinous rice 200g, 7oz
  • 500 ml water 17 fl oz, to cover rice for soaking
  • 75 ml coconut milk 2.5 fl oz
  • 50 ml water 1.7 fl oz, for cooking
  • Pinch salt

For the custard layer:


For the rice layer:

  • Wash the glutinous rice twice in water, and drain each time. Then cover with 500ml water, around 1 inch / 2.5cm above the rice level (as it will expand) and allow to soak for 30 minutes. Drain again.
    1 cup glutinous rice, 500 ml water
  • Add the coconut milk, 50ml water and salt to the rice and stir through. Line a 9 inch x 9 inch square or circular baking tray with baking paper and add the rice mixture.
    75 ml coconut milk, 50 ml water, Pinch salt
  • In a large pot or electric cooker, add 1-2 litres / quarts of water and bring to the boil. Pop the tray on a dish to hold it out of the water, cover with a lid and steam the rice for 35 minutes.
  • At the 20 minute mark, start the pandan custard layer.

For the pandan custard layer:

  • Pop the palm sugar in a small bowl and zap in the microwave for around 20-30 seconds in 10 second increments. You want to soften the palm sugar, so it melts quickly in the custard.
    80 g palm sugar
  • Using the double boiler method, fill the bottom of a medium saucepan with water and bring to the boil then turn down to medium heat. Add a metal mixing bowl on top to make the custard.
  • Add the water, cornstarch, all purpose flour, eggs, coconut milk, pandan paste and salt into the bowl. Using a whisk, combine until smooth, then add in the chopped palm sugar. Keep mixing quickly, scraping down the sides as you go to avoid the custard clumping. In around 5-10 minutes, the mixture should start to thicken to more of a custard. Remove from the heat at this point while still a little runny.
    Pinch salt, 75 ml water, 3 tbsp cornstarch / cornflour, 1.5 tbsp plain flour / all purpose flour, 2 eggs, 100 ml coconut milk, 1/2 tsp pandan flavouring, 80 g palm sugar, Pinch salt

To finish:

  • Remove the rice from steaming and fluff the top with a fork (careful not to tear the baking paper). Next, flatten with the back of a spoon until firmly packed down.
  • Pour over the pandan custard, and smooth out with the back of a spoon.
  • Pop the tray back into the pot or electric cooker, and steam for another 25 minutes.
  • Once set, remove from the steamer and set on the bench to cool.
  • For best results, allow the kuih seri muka to cool completely before cutting.


  • Ingredient notes:
    • Palm Sugar - We use a type of palm sugar called gula melaka which gives a rich caramel flavour to the custard. It will also affect the colour of the pandan custard layer, making it a darker rich olive green. You can use light brown sugar or regular sugar if you need, and this will give the custard a brighter green.
    • Coconut Milk - Look for full-fat canned coconut milk with at least 60% coconut extract which will give you the best flavour and texture.
    • Pasta Pandan - Look for ‘pasta pandan’ (aka pandan paste) at your Asian grocer or buy it online.
    • Flour - We use all purpose flour for this recipe. You can substitute with rice flour which is naturally gluten free.
  • Compress the Rice - Once the rice is cooked, press it firmly into the tray to create an even, flat layer. This will help the base hold its shape and help the custard layer stick to it.
  • Gently Pour Custard - This avoids extra air bubbles getting trapped in the custard.
    Pop the Bubbles - If you see bubbles on your custard layer (before cooking), you can use a toothpick or skewer to pop them for a more beautiful presentation.
  • Cook on Low - Avoid high heat as this can cause bubbles to form in the custard. Be patient and you'll be rewarded.
  • Vent the Steam - To avoid condensation forming, make sure there is a gap so that excess steam can escape the cooker. If your steamer has a vent in the lid, that should be enough. If not, wrap a tea towel around the lid to absorb condensation and stop it dripping on the surface of your custard. This will help give you that beautiful smooth surface.
    To Check Custard Is Cooked - Just like a cake, you can poke a toothpick into the custard and if it comes out clean, it’s done.
    Let it Cool Completely - Seri muka must be completely cool before slicing or popping into a container for storage.
    Wet Knife - Use a wet towel to wipe the knife before and after each slice for nice, even edges and to stop the rice from sticking to the blade.
  • Double Pandan - Add a drop or two of pandan flavouring when cooking the glutinous rice so you end up with two green layers.
  • Slicing - Slice into squares or diamonds.


Calories: 129kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 29mg | Potassium: 55mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 40IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg