We Turned Sapin-Sapin Into Layer Cake Because We Can’t Get Enough Carbs

May 6, 2017

It’s hard to complain about being a food writer until the annual physical exam results arrive. It’s basically ignorant bliss until they come; what happens after is a massive purge of food invites, followed by attempts to go to the gym before realizing passes have expired. Kakanin is one out of a trillion and one weaknesses, with the cultural favorite serving as constant temptation. You see cuchinta, you buy a bag. A slice of cassava is a gateway drug to half the box. Don’t even start with sapinsapin: even though mass-produced versions often taste nothing like ube or langka, it’s impossible to say no. This steamed cake’s sticky, mochi-like texture is one of its best attributes; the fact that its flavors are enhanced with a smattering of toasted latik helps things too.

In the worst attempt ever at addressing this addiction, we suggested turning sapinsapin into an #ontrend #blessed #naked #layercake. If it doesn’t have rice or rice flour in it, then it must be better for your health right? Our so-called ‘logical reasoning’ was incredibly misguided, but the idea apparently was not: this hybrid tastes like your childhood made even more childlike. You get to impart as much ube and langka flavor as you want into each sponge, and we’ve even added coconut to the crimson and cream-colored layers. This instantly makes it much more flavorful than a lot of sapin-sapins out there, where the massive amount of food coloring takes precedent over flavor, making them taste like colored plastic. It’s all about texture too—make sure to keep a toothpick at the ready, to help you determine when your cake is done at the exact moment, for that perfect crumb. Halaya buttercream tops the whole thing, and you’ve morphed old-school kakanin into a modern-day confection. Are cakes carbs too? Don’t answer.

Sapin-Sapin Layer Cake

YIELD: 1 4-layer 8-inch cake for 6-12 persons
TIME: 2 1/2 hours

ingredients: CAKEs

  • 2 cups unsalted butter
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp ube extract
  • 4 tbsp coconut extract, divided
  • 2 tbsp langka extract
  • ½ tbsp red food coloring

ingredients: FROSTING

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp whole milk + 1 tbsp if needed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ube jam

Procedure: Cakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter and line four 8-inch cake pans. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Using a stand or handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 8 minutes.
  5. Add eggs to the butter-sugar mixture two at a time until fully incorporated.
  6. Add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately until the mixture is fully combined.
  7. Evenly separate the mixture into four bowls.
  8. Add the extracts/food coloring into the separate bowls of cake batter and fold the mixture until no longer streaky.
    You should end up with one bowl each of the following: 
-ube (1/4 cake batter + ube extract)
    -coconut (1/4 cake batter + coconut extract)
-langka (1/4 cake batter + langka extract)
-red coconut (1/4 cake batter + coconut extract + red food coloring)
  9. Pour batters into separate prepared cake pans and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes come out clean.
  10. Allow the cakes to cool for 30 minutes. Loosen the sides of the cakes and remove from the pans and onto a cooling rack. Allow the cakes to cool completely before cutting and frosting.
  11. With a serrated knife, cut the tops off of each cake so that all four cakes are even in height. Set aside.

Procedure: Frosting

  1. Using a stand or handheld mixer, cream the softened butter until pale and fluffy, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla.
  3. Cream the mixture until fully incorporated and light and fluffy. If the mixture is too thick, add milk until it becomes a spreadable consistency.
  4. Take 1/2 cup of the frosting and place in a separate bowl. Add the ube jam and mix with a spatula until the ube is evenly distributed, but the mixture is still streaky. Place the ube frosting in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.


  1. Place the coconut cake on a cake board on top of a cake stand/turntable.
  2. Add 1 cup of frosting and spread over the cake evenly.
  3. Repeat with all the layers in the following order: red coconut, langka, and ube.
  4. Using a large metal spatula, evenly frost the outside of the cake.
  5. Take the piping bag with ube frosting and pipe frosting onto the top of the cake.
  6. Slice and serve.
Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez

Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.

1 comments in this post SHOW

One response to “We Turned Sapin-Sapin Into Layer Cake Because We Can’t Get Enough Carbs”

  1. Mari Paz says:

    Where can you buy ube extract, coconut extract and langka extract for the sapin sapin cake?

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