Steamed Coconut Cup Cake


In Indonesia this is called ‘putu ayu’ or ‘pretty cup cake Little cakes like these are popular all over Southeast Asia, not as a dessert but as a snack eaten any time between meals. In particular, they are served with tea whenever friends or neighbours call. No one ever makes an appointment to do this, so every household should have a little stock of cakes ready to offer anyone who drops in for a chat.

Traditionally, these cakes are fairly solid in Indonesia, but I like to make them lighter, principally by beating the eggs. If using fresh coconut, one will be sufficient to make the coconut milk and to supply the grated coconut flesh. As a mould, I use Chinese tea cups without handles, but small ramekins or ring moulds, or any small cup-shaped moulds made of aluminium, will do just as well.

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  • 5 eggs
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 85 g/ 3 oz rice flour
  • 30 g/ 1 oz plain flour
  • 150 ml/¼ pint thick coconut milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 115 g/ 4 oz grated coconut flesh


Beat the eggs and the sugar until they are thick and pale in colour. Sift in the flours and continue beating while you slowly add the coconut milk and salt. Continue beating this batter for about 3 minutes longer.

Heat some water in a steamer and, when boiling, put 10-12 cups into the steamer basket to warm for about 2 minutes.

Divide the grated coconut evenly among the cups, pressing it in with a spoon. Then pour in equal portions of the batter. Steam for 10 minutes.

Turn out the cakes as soon as the cups are cool enough to handle.