Roti Kukus recipe: tested and proven

Roti Kukus with dark brown caster sugar

I am quite proud of my own roti kukus recipe. This Indonesian steam cake, without butter, is not difficult to make, but you have to follow the directions exactly. I’ve often made this roti kukus and so far I always get a beautiful raised cake, much lighter than any sponge cake.

Some say a great kukus has bursted open from the top, but others say the taste and sponginess is the most important part of a great roti kukus. I love the fact I use a recipe that always works!


Roti Kukus with pandan

Do you really want a roti kukus that has bursted open on to, use a smaller colander to steam it in; during rising it can only rise to the top and will burst open.

Would you like to taste a roti kukus in 40 minutes? Then take a look at the video or the recipe in text and pictures below.

The recipe is based on an old recipe from my Indonesian grandmother. She used 6 eggs and I want to make a lighter and more spongy cake. I told my mother about it and before I knew it we were experimenting with the old recipe together in the kitchen. ;-).

We discovered that the old recipe sometimes succeeded and sometimes not. The solution: use a steam basket or colander with lots of cavities to get the steam through. Also, use a thin cloth (napkin or tea towel) to pour the batter in.

Roti Kukus with mom

Do you want to try?

Roti Kukus à la Pisang Susu for 4 people, total prep time: 40 minutes, steaming time 25 minutes.


4 eggs
150 grams caster sugar (white but brown is nice too)
150 grams of self-rising flour (cake flour)
2 sachets of vanilla sugar
pinch of salt

If you cannot buy self -rising flour or cake flour mix 2 teaspoons of baking powder for each 150g/6oz/1 cup of plain flour.

Tip: if you want to make your cake even fluffier: mix 80 – 100 ml of 7-up through the batter.


Roti Kukus sieve sollutionPlace a pretty big pan over the fire with enough water to steam for at least 25 minutes. The water should not touch the colander. Use a colander with lots of cavities that fits perfectly in there (that’s important). Or tie a towel around the rim of the colander so it fits in tightly.

Roti Kukus steaming in panI use a thin handkerchief (but you can also use a thin tea towel) to place in the colander. You can put the handkerchief in just before you pour the batter or immediately when you put the pan on the fire. While this is on the stove, I can start my batter.

Steamed Indonesian cake recipeMix the eggs and sugar on a high setting until it’s fluffy and light yellow in color (about 5 minutes of mixing). Sift the flour and stir it in little by little.

Roti Kukus sieveI do not use my hand mixer for mixing in the flower. I use a spatula to gently mix it in. That way the cake remains as spongy as possible.

Roti Kukus batter Indonesian steamed cakeWhen the water comes to the boil, I pour the batter into the napkin that is already in the colander and place it on top of the steaming water. Then I put the lit on and leave it there for 25 minutes. Do not peek to see how your roti kukus is doing; it will collapse.

Indonesian steamed cake easyThen the most exciting part: let’s see how it turned out. Open it and see how beautifully it has risen. It is spongy and looks done. If you want to be sure test it like you would with a cake coming out of the oven (with a needle: stick it in, if anything sticks to it, it is not done yet). But believe me, it will not be necessary. This recipe works great! Raise the cloth with the roti kukus inside carefully out of the pan and let it cool for a minute. Take it off and cut nice even slices. You can eat it when it is still warm.

Here I made my kukus with dark brown caster sugar: lovely too!

Eat your roti kukus with salty butter or chocolate paste. If you want something different, add pandan paste to the batter for a green color and pandan flavor. Or mix cacao through the batter for a marbled chocolate kukus. You can even pour melted chocolate over it for a hard crust. I love that idea ;-).


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7 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to give us this recipe. I can’t wait to make it for my children tonight.

    Kind thoughts,

    • Pauline Chavannes de Senerpont Domis says:

      Dear Yolanda, Thank you for your lovely comment. I enjoy making food a lot. Hopefully more recipes on this website will please you. This week I start with Tjendol 😉

  2. Lola newman says:

    I love this recipe , will try soon .
    At least you only use 4 eggs , great !
    Terima kasih ja ?

    • Pauline Chavannes de Senerpont Domis says:

      Thank you! Lots of roti kukus recipes are made with more than 6 eggs or even 12! Too much for me and not necessary I think. This recipe is a light roti kukus version. I finished it in one day 😉

  3. Xander says:

    I use mostly the same recipe, only larger quantities.

    – 500 gr caster sugar (in Holland I use basterd suiker)
    – 500 gr Self raising flour or 500 gr Flour with 2,5 teaspoon of baking powder
    – 5 eggs
    – 8 gr vanilla sugar
    – 5 half eggshells carbonated water

    extra : 1 teaspoon cacao powder

    Mix the eggs with the sieved suger and vanilla sugar. Mix in by hand the sieved flour and water in small bits until you have a smooth batter.
    Set a small portion of the batter aside and mix it with the cacao powder.
    Boil water in the outer pan of the rice steamer.
    I always use a thin tea towel in the rice steamer, make sure the inner pan isn’t touching the boiling water. Pour in the white batter and then in the center add the cacao batter.
    Use a second tea towel to under the lid and fold both towels over the top of the lid and if possible fixate something heavy.
    Keep an eye on the water level every 15 minutes and refill with boiling water. While checking the water level make sure the inner pan stays closed. Keep steaming over medium heat for 45 to 60 minutes, you’ll have to try for your pan and heat source.

    Best eaten with some salted butter.

    selamat makan

  4. Froble says:

    What kind of sugar is caster sugar or basterd suiker?

    • Pauline Chavannes de Senerpont Domis says:

      This is the British term for sugar with small grains that are between granulated and icing sugar in terms of fineness. It is sometimes spelled castor sugar, and is known as ‘superfine’ sugar in America.

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