Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sapin-Sapin (Steamed Sweet Rice Cake in Colorful Layers)

Five-Layered Sapin-Sapin with Toasted Latik on Top
Rice is a staple food in the Philippines. Malagkit (glutinous rice or sticky rice) is commonly mixed with coconut milk, condensed milk, tapioca, sugar and other ingredients to make sweet delicacies and desserts that are generally called kakanin.  The word kakanin came from the root word "kanin" which means cooked rice.

Common kakanin includes suman (steamed sweet rice cake wrapped in coconut or banana leaves)bibingka (rice cake cooked in clay pots lined with banana leaves over charcoal fire) biko (sticky rice cake), kalamay (sticky rice cake flavored with purple yam or taro), puto (steamed rice cake) and kutsinta (brown rice cake served with freshly grated coconut).

Sapin-sapin is a steamed rice cake that comes in several colored layers traditionally flavored with coconut milk, purple yam and jackfruit.  The name of the dish comes from the word "sapin" which means "to layer." The purple layer is flavored with ube (purple yam.) The yellow layer is flavored with either langka (jackfruit) or yellow corn.  The plain white layer is flavored with kakang gata (pure coconut milk) and/or vanilla. Other colored layers could include red (flavored with sweet red bean paste or anise seeds) and green (flavored with pandan.) Pandan leaves have a sweet, unique flavor and aroma and is widely used to enhance desserts and savory dishes in the Philippines.

Sapin-sapin is served as a dessert and is usually present during special occasions such as fiesta, Christmas and New Year to name a few.

Sapin-Sapin

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 1/2 hours
Yield: 12-16 servings

Ingredients:


  • 4 cups glutinous rice flour, sifted
  • 1 cup rice flour, sifted
  • 1 2/3 cups refined sugar
  • 3 1/3 cups coconut milk
  • 24 ounces condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup ube (purple yam) jam + 1/8 tsp. blue and 1/8 tsp. red food color  (or 1/4 tsp purple food color)
  • 1 teaspoon langka (jackfruit) flavor + 1/4 tsp. yellow food color
  • 1 teaspoon pandan flavor + 1/4 tsp. green food color
  • 1/4 cup sweet red bean paste + 1/8 tsp. red food color
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Garnish: toasted latik (recipe here) or toasted coconut

Five separate bowls of rice flour and milk mixture colored and flavored accordingly
Procedure
  1. Start to boil water for the steamer. 
  2. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with wax paper, banana leaves or cheesecloth. Lightly brush the insides with vegetable oil or spray with a cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl mix the flours and sugar together.
  4. Add the coconut milk and condensed milk to the flour mix.  Mix thourougly to achieve a smooth texture.
  5. Divide the mixture into 5 equal parts about 1 1/4 cups each. Put each part in a separate bowl.
  6. For the purple layer: Add the ube jam and  1/8 tsp. blue and 1/8 tsp. red food color (or 1/4 tsp purple food color) in the first bowl.
  7. For the yellow layer: Add the langka (jackfruit) flavor + 1/4 tsp. yellow food color in the second bowl.
  8. For the green layer: Add the pandan flavor + 1/4 tsp. green food color in the third bowl.
  9. For the red layer: Add the sweet red bean paste + 1/8 tsp. red food color in the fourth bowl.
  10. For the plain white layer: Add the vanilla extract to the last bowl.
  11. Pour the purple layer first on the cake pan. Put the cake pan on the steamer and cover.  Steam for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  12. Pour the yellow layer on top of the cooked purple layer slowly. Steam covered for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  13. Pour the green layer on top of the cooked yellow layer slowly. Steam  covered for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  14. Pour the red layer on top of the cooked green layer slowly. Steam  covered for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  15. Pour the white layer on top of the cooked red layer slowly. Steam  covered for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  16. Meanwhile, prepare the toasted latik (following the recipe here.)
  17. Once the sapin-sapin is done, remove from heat and let cool. 
  18. To assemble, place a serving plate on top of the pan and invert the pan.  Remove the cheesecloth, banana leaves or wax paper.  Brush the sides and top of the sapin-sapin with the coconut oil produced from making the toasted latik.  
  19. Garnish with toasted latik on top.
The Steam Bake Method

Notes:
*  Anise seeds are only added to either the red or yellow layers.  The white layer must remain plain and only flavored with vanilla.
*  If there's no purple food color is available, mix equal parts of red and blue food colors together.
*  Be careful not to let the moisture from the steamer get in the sapin-sapin.  That will ruin the texture of the rice cake.  Make sure the pan is adequately covered while steaming the sapin-sapin.
*  Sapin-sapin can also be steamed using a rice cooker.
*  If you don't have a large enough steamer, you can do the steam bake method where in you put a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven and bake each layer of the sapin-sapin for 15-20 minutes, shorter than what it would take on a traditional steamer done on a stove top or a rice cooker.
*  For easy cutting or portioning of the sapin-sapin, wrap your knife with cling wrap and brush it with oil so the sticky rice cake won't stick in the knife and ruin the shape of your cake.


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