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 is not difficult to make, but you have to follow the preparation exactly, otherwise, a kukus may fail.

Do you also want a steam cake on the table within 40 minutes? Watch my video or read on for the recipe in text and photos.

Cracked open or not

I’ve made this recipe many, many times, and so far I always get a beautifully risen cake; fluffier than any sponge cake. I have heard that a kukus must have to burst open from above; “Only then it is a real roti kukus”. Maybe that is true, I can’t prove it :-). Everyone makes a different steam cake. For me, a great roti kukus is light, fluffy and not extremely sweet.

If you really want a cake that is cracked open at the top, make sure that the colander in which you steam the cake is a bit narrow, then the cake can only rise upwards and will crack. I also got a tip through my Dutch comment section from Petrus: “The solution to a cracked open cake (I think) is to use a mold or colander that is smaller than the steamer, so the steam can also reach the top of the batter”.

Roti Kukus with Pandan

Done in 40 minutes

This recipe is based on an old recipe from my grandmother. But her recipe was not always successful (cake sometimes collapsed) so I experimented with it. I found that if I use a sieve or colander that has many cavities my cake always works.

You can use gula Jawa or dark sugar in stead of the regular caster sugar. If the sugar is super dark, mix the dark sugar with the regular caster sugar (75 grams of dark sugar, 75 grams regular).

Roti kukus à la Pisang Susu is enough for 4 people, total preparation time: 40 minutes


  • 4 eggs
  • 150 grams of caster sugar
  • 150 grams of self-raising flour
  • 2 sachets of vanilla sugar
  • a pinch of salt

Tip: if you want your cake even fluffier than it already is: add 80 ml soda, 7-up or sprite to the batter.

Tip: for a beautiful marble in the cake add pandan or chocolate to the batter and don’t over mix.


Place a large pan on the stove with enough water to steam for more than 25 minutes. The water should not touch the colander. Provide a colander with many cavities that fits perfectly in the pan (that is important) and a thin handkerchief or tea towel in which you will pour the batter.

  • Mix the eggs and all the sugar and the pinch of salt on high speed. Mix on high speed until the batter it is fluffy and light yellow in color (mix for about 5 minutes).
  • Sieve the flour.
  • Spoon the flour into the batter with a spatula (do not use a mixer).
  • Bring water to the boil in the pan, put the colander on top and place the handkerchief in it.
  • Gently pour the batter into the handkerchief.
  • Tie a tea towel around the lid and place it on the pan.
  • Steam the roti kukus for 25 minutes.

A roti kukus is steamed in a piece of cloth. I also tie a tea towel around the edge so that the steam cannot escape and I also tie a tea towel around the lid to catch drops. That way they don’t make craters in your kukus. The water should boil a lot when the batter is poured into the colander.

For the batter, I mix the eggs and all the sugar together on high speed for about 5 minutes.

I sift the flour and scoop it gently through the batter.

I use a spatula for this and not the mixer, otherwise, you will whisk the air out of the batter. Fold in the flour gently until everything is well incorporated.

When the water boils fiercely pour the batter into the cloth, which is in the colander. Then place the (wrapped) lid on it and do not open it (otherwise it will collapse).

Let your cake steam for 25 minutes.

Now for the reveal: take the colander of the pan and see: a beautifully risen cake!

Carefully lift the kukus with the cloth out of the pan. Let it cool for a minute or so and remove the tea towel that sticks to it (that’s normal).


Roti kukus is often eaten with a bit of butter on top. Warm it is best, but the next day as a slice at breakfast is alsodelicious.

You can also mix pandan or chocolate through the cake batter.

Want to see more ideas? Check out my Pinterest board with all kinds of steam cake options :-).

Need more sweet recipes? Check out this link.

Want to see more sweet Indonesian recipes explained in video? Watch my ‘sweet’ youtube playlist. I hope you enjoy it!

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8 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.

  5. Loraine Jacobs says:

    I am half Indo and half Dutch, First of my generation born in US. Most Americans don’t use grams weights for measuring food ingredients. Could you please give me the measurements for this Roti Kukus in Cups & teaspoons! I can’t wait to try this recipe! I ate this Steam kook when I was a child. Both of my parents are have long since passed away.

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