Golden orange coloured butternut squash kuih in a row.
A Nyonya in UK, Breakfast, Culture, Snack, Sweets and Puddings, Vegetarian, Vegan

Vegan and Gluten Free Butternut Squash or Sweet Potato Layer Kuih

Butternut squash or sweet potato steamed kuih is very popular in Malaysia. Originally it is made with sweet potato. Sweet potato is easily available in in Malaysia and Asia. Coconut and tapioca flour are also easily available. These are the common ingredients found in Asia. Butternut squash is a good replacement for sweet potato a few years back in the UK. But now, sweet potato can be easily found in UK supermarkets and stores.

Btw, we used to grow our own sweet potato back in Malaysia. Those were the good old days!

Using butter nut squash for a change.

This recipe a variation of the Sweet Potato Dainties that I make.  I like a bit of a challenge and decide to make this a 3 layer cake. It is not too complicated, but does take some time to complete. At the end of the day, you will have a nice piece or pieces for you tea or coffee.

For the butternut squash, I steam and then measure out the quantity. I steamed 300g for 200g of butternut squash. You can do less to get 200g of the steamed squash. If you use sweet potato, just do the same procedure.

I decide to use fresh pandan leaf to flavour the kuih, so I simmer the pandan leaf in some water and use the pandan infused water for this purpose. If you have pandan essence without the green colour, you can use this too.

5 pieces of the kuih with a cup of hot tea.
5 pieces of the kuih with a cup of hot tea.

I lined my baking tray with cling film as my tray has a loose bottom. There is no need to use a cling film if you are using a  regular tray. Just rinse it in water before filling it up. Alternatively, you can use a round baking tin and cut it into segments, like a cake.

I like mine with a cup of tea or coffee and some company.

Here is the printable version of the recipe.

Vegan and Gluten Free Butternut Squash Kuih

A traditional Malaysian Kuih (cake) made with sweet potato. I am using butternut squash for a change. It is typically enjoyed as a snack for afternoon tea, and at times served as a dessert.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
Resting time4 hours
Total Time5 hours 45 minutes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese, Malaysian, Nyonya
Keyword: Butternut squash, Dairy free, gluten free, sweet potato, vegan,
Servings: 16 pieces
Cost: £2.50


  • 15cm or 6 inch cm square tray for steaming (use 20cm or 8 inch if you double the recipe)
  • Steamer
  • Tea towel
  • A small pot


For the two butternut squash layer

  • 200 g Butter nut squash or orange sweet potato, peel sliced and steamed weight
  • 100 g Tapioca flour
  • 160 g sugar (150-160g)
  • 150 ml coconut milk you may have extra left
  • 100 ml 100 ml water
  • 1 Pandan leaf

For the white layer

  • 10 g Rice flour
  • 10 g Corn flour
  • 5 g Tapioca Flour
  • 125 ml Thick coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp Salt


Make the 2 orange butternut squash layers

  • Tear the pandan leaf into shreds and tie into a knot, or two if you wish.
  • Put it in a small pot and add in 100ml of water and bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. You should be able to smell the fragrance.
  • Remove and set aside to cool.
  • Peel and cut the butternut squash or sweet potatoes into slices.
  • Place in a microwave safe container and microwave with 2 tbsp of water for about 20 minutes, in 10 minutes or so intervals until it is cooked. A fork can pierce through it.
  • Put the cooled butternut squash/ sweet potato in a blender/ chopper together with tapioca flour, sugar.
  • Pour the pandan infused water into a small jug. It should be about 75ml. Add enough coconut milk to get 200ml of liquid.
  • Add this to the blender/chopper.
  • Blend until all the mixture is combined.
  • Strain into a measuring jug (if you have) or any container.

1st butternut squash layer

  • Pour half into the steaming tray and steam on medium high for 25 to 30 minutes.
    *I lined mine with cling film as my tray has a loose bottom.

Make the white middle layer

  • Place all the ingredients into a blender/chopper and blend until well mixed. Make sure the flours do not sink to the bottom. Use a spatula to scrap it and blend again.
  • Pour into a small jug.
  • After about 25to 30 minutes, remove the 1st layer from the steamer.
  • Scratch some lines on the layer with a fork.
  • Stir the white layer batter and gently pour over the orange layer.
  • Steam for 15minutes.
  • When done, remove from the steam and scratch the surface with a fork.

2nd butternut squash layer

  • Stir the remainder of the butternut squash mixture, and gently pour over the white later.
  • Steam for 30 minutes
  • Depressurise the steamer every 5 minutes or so by opening the lid and replacing it again.
  • When done, remove from the steamer and leave to cool for at least 4 hours before cutting.
  • Cut into serving sizes according to your liking.
  • Enjoy!


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