Pumpkin and Coconut Layered Cake (Kuih Talam)

Pumpkin and Coconut Layered Cake (Kuih talam) is a well-liked Nyonya or Peranakan cake in Southeast Asia. Peranakan cuisine is the fusion of Chinese and Malay cuisines due to intermarriages between the Chinese and Malay population. Nonya or Peranakan cuisines are reknown for their colourful, flavourful and delicious kuihs. Usually, they make these kuihs from a range of customary ingredients. Like coconut cream or milk, grated coconut, pandan (screwpine) leaves and palm sugar (gula Melaka). Common starches used are rice flour, glutinous rice flour, glutinous rice, tapioca flour and mung bean (green peas) flour. They do not use wheat flour in these type of kuihs. So making them naturally gluten free and a fantastic dessert for people on a gluten free diet. Moreover, you can eat these kuihs during breakfast, as an afternoon snack or as desserts.

Pumpkin and Coconut Layered Cake (Kuih Talam) Gluten Free
Pumpkin and Coconut Layered Cake (Kuih Talam) Gluten Free

Coconut Layered Cake (Kuih Talam)

“Talam” literally means “tray” in Malay language, meaning cake steamed in a tray. There are two layers to the cake, the bottom layer is usually sweet and the top layer slightly savoury. Typically, they make the bottom layer with pandan (screwpine) leaves and top layer with coconut milk or cream. Likewise, they add rice flour and tapioca starch and sometime mung bean (green pea) flour to both layers. For its unique soft and pudding like firm consistency. The appearance of kuih talam is usually creamy white on top and green at the bottom.

For Other modern variations of the bottom layer of kuih talam, they make them with sweet potatoes, taro (purple yam). Or palm sugar, tapioca (cassava), mango and even durian. For my gluten free pumpkin and coconut layered cake (Kuih Talam) recipe, I am using pumpkins for the bottom layer. Moreover, this Pumpkin and Coconut Layered Cake (Kuih talam) recipe is vegan, dairy free, soy free and nut free. As well as corn free, egg free, low carb, refined sugar free and allergy friendly.

You may also like my other Nyonya kuih recipes:

Pumpkin and Coconut Layered Cake (Kuih Talam) Gluten Free

About Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a cultivated squash plant, usually Cucurbita pepo family. Pumpkin has its origin in North America. Besides, ancient proof showed that they discovered pumpkin seeds in Mexico dated as far back as 5500 to 7000 BC. They cultivate pumpkin for commercial uses for consumption as food and for recreational uses. Pumpkins are a traditional food staple for Thanksgiving. As well as for making jack-o-lanterns during Halloween for many centuries in the United States and Canada.

The term pumpkin came from ancient Greek “Pepon”, meaning large melon. The French modified the word to Pompon. Then the British changed the word to Pumpion. Later, the Americans transformed Pumpion to the modern word Pumpkin. Pumpkins are very popular and versatile as we can cook them in so many different ways. Likewise, they add pumpkins to main meals, soups, salads, preserves and desserts and as a substitute for butter. They are an enormously nutrient-dense food that is high in fibre and low in calories as well.

Pumpkin and Coconut Layered Cake (Kuih Talam) Gluten Free

Nutritional Values and Health Benefits of Pumpkin

In general, pumpkins is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin c (ascorbic acid). They are also a good source of vitamin E, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), manganese, potassium and copper. Furthermore, they are a moderate source of B group of vitamins. Specifically, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B5 (panthothenic acid), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B9 (folate). Plus phosphorus, iron and magnesium.

The overall health benefits of pumpkins may include:

  • Promote weight loss and reduce risks of obesity;
  • Prevent diabetes;
  • Lower blood pressure;
  • Decrease risks of cardiovascular diseases,
  • Promote healthy skin and hair;
  • Maintain eye health;
  • Increase fertility;
  • Boosts the immune system; and
  • Reduce risks of certain types of cancer.
Pumpkin and Coconut Layered Cake (Kuih Talam) Gluten Free

Pumpkin and Coconut Layered Cake (Kuih Talam)

Pumpkin and coconut layered cake is a modern variation of the popular Nyonya Kuih Talam. With the bottom layer sweet and the top layer slightly savoury.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Asian Desserts, Malaysian
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Salt, Vegan
Keyword: Allergy Friendly, Corn Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Low Carb, Malaysian Dessert, Nut Free, Nyonya Kuih, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Dessert, Refined Sugar Free, Soy Free, Vegan
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 299.85kcal
Author: Daphne Goh


For bottom layer:

For Top layer:


For the bottom layer:

  • Heat up a wok half filled with water, place a large plate over a steaming rack in the wok and add all the pumpkin pieces. Cover with lid and steam on medium heat for 10 minutes or until all the pumpkin pieces are soft.
  • Remove plate and place all the pumpkins in a large bowl, mash well with a potato masher.
  • In another large bowl, mix the rice flour and tapioca starch with a whisk. Then add in the coconut milk, agave syrup and vanilla extract, whisk and mix well.
  • Follow by adding all the mashed pumpkin into the flour mixture in step 3. Whisk until all the ingredients are well combined.
  • Line the bottom of an 8 inch square cake pan with baking/parchment paper. Pour the pumpkin mixture in step 4 into the cake pan.
  • Heat up the wok half filled with water again, bring to a boil. Place the cake pan onto the steaming rack. Cover with lid and steam on medium heat for 25 minutes.

For the Top Layer:

  • Mix all the rice flour, tapioca starch and desiccated coconut in a large bowl, whisk and mix well.
  • Then add in all the coconut milk, agave syrup, vanilla extract, water and salt. Whisk all the ingredients together until well combined.
  • Pour the top layer mixture onto the top of the cooked pumpkin bottom layer in the cake pan.
  • Cover with lid and steam for 30 minutes. Ensure that there is enough water in the wok.
  • Cool and refrigerate for few hours or overnight before slicing.
Nutrition Facts
Pumpkin and Coconut Layered Cake (Kuih Talam)
Serving Size
1 people
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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6 thoughts on “Pumpkin and Coconut Layered Cake (Kuih Talam)”

  1. I’ve never had a steamed cake, sounds so delicious. I noticed you’re using tapioca flour, but I’m not sure I can get it in Slovenia. Do you think I could use tapioca pearls nd grind them?
    Use Your Noodles

    • Tapioca pearls are made from tapioca (cassava) flour, you can use finely ground tapioca pearls since they are made from the same tapioca starch. Also try finding tapioca flour from any Asian groceries stores. 🙂


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