Hotcakes with coconut cream caramel

The southern Indian pancakes appam (light, bubbled and bowl-shaped, made from rice flour and coconut milk) have derivatives along Asian trading routes. In Sri Lanka there are hoppers, in Java there are serabi. Roadside sellers in Bandung cook these sweet treats to order in lidded terracotta bowls. Without the requisite kit at home, I use a thicker batter and a frying pan to get a fat and fluffy hotcake. Drenched with golden coconut cream caramel, it is an irresistible combination.


Coconut cream caramel

  • 160 ml (generous Β½ cup) coconut cream
  • 50 g (β…“ cup) dark palm sugar (gula jawa), shaved
  • ΒΌ teaspoon salt
  • 2 pandan leaves, bruised and tied in a knot (optional)


  • 125 g (scant 1 cup) plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 150 ml (generous Β½ cup) coconut milk
  • oil, for greasing the pan


To make the caramel, put all of the ingredients in a saucepan and gently heat, stirring often. You want everything to melt to a butterscotch-coloured sauce, without bubbling up. It will thicken slightly as it cools. Remove the pandan leaves.

For the hotcakes, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, break in the egg and gradually add the coconut milk and 90 ml (β…“ cup) water, whisking to a smooth batter.

Use a trickle of oil to grease a non-stick frying pan and set over a medium-high heat. When hot, drop in large spoonfuls of batter. When the upper side is blistered and bubbling, flip and cook the other side. It will only need a minute, if that.

Serve warm with the coconut cream caramel.