The combination of sweet steamed pandan cake and savory grated coconut from Indonesian Putu Ayu will surely satisfy your cravings for sweet desserts and salty treats.
Hi everyone! I am back making another Indonesian traditional dessert. This Putu Ayu is also one of my favorite childhood snacks after Klepon. I remember loving this dessert so much when I was little because it tastes just like eating cake.
Indonesian desserts are mostly made from glutinous rice or rice flour dough. They are then boiled or steamed to cook. They tend to be chewy, sticky, and wet-looking. That is why they are called kue basah in Indonesian or you can translate it to “wet cake”. However, Putu Ayu is different because it uses wheat flour and they rise during steaming, creating the soft and fluffy texture that I love.
What I love the most about Indonesian desserts is that they are not too sweet. If you crave the combo of sweet and salty, you are gonna love this dessert. The pandan cake in Putu Ayu is barely sweet and the savory grated coconut somehow enhances and intensifies the sweetness. I believe that what makes Indonesian food unique and different from other desserts.
If you miss traditional desserts like me or you are eager to explore Indonesian food, this recipe will surely be one of your favorites to try. It is very easy to make at home. Do not forget to watch the video below to show you how I made it.
About Putu Ayu
Putu Ayu or Putri Ayu is one of the Indonesian desserts/snacks originated in Java. It is basically a steamed pandan mini cake with grated coconut on top. Ayu which in Javanese means beautiful is indeed the visual point of this cake because the shape and color of Putu Ayu make a very pretty appearance.
This traditional dessert typically has 2 different layers. The top consists of white grated coconut while the bottom is the pandan cake. Then, steam it in an individual flower-shaped mold or mini bundt cake mold to get the shape.
For the pandan flavor, I used the grocery store’s pandan paste for convenience. It usually comes in a little bottle and has a thick texture, so you only need a few drops to get the pandan taste and nice green color.
If you are up to making your own extract, you will need to adjust the recipe a little. You can find the recipe at my previous Pandan Extract. But for this Putu Ayu recipe, simply substitute the water with coconut milk. Blend coconut milk with pandan or suji leaves, then strain.
Molds for Putu Ayu
I used individual 2.8-inch/7cm mini cake molds with flower shapes. Since it is impossible to find putu ayu mold outside Indonesia, you can use cupcake molds or mini bundt cake molds to get the shape. But if you feel like the shape does not matter, you can also use plain cupcake molds instead. You can make Putu Ayu in slightly bigger or smaller molds. But if you do so, make sure to adjust the cooking time shorter or longer for a few minutes.
How to Make Putu Ayu
Putu Ayu is very easy to make. Firstly, season the freshly grated coconut with salt for taste. Then, steam it for 10 minutes just to delay the coconut from going bad easily. If you cannot find freshly grated coconut, you can alternatively use desiccated coconut. However, you will need to steam it for 10-15 minutes before using to rehydrate and soften it. Nevertheless, it will not taste the same as freshly grated coconut but using desiccated coconut is the best alternative for it.
To make the pandan cake, simply beat together eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and cake emulsifier or ovalette with a mixer. Cake emulsifier helps the eggs to rise rapidly and stiffly. As it is acidic it also helps the beaten eggs to remain stable and not lose the airy and voluminous texture. It makes the cake softer and smoother.
Then, after the egg mixture is white and fluffy, whisk together the flour, salt, coconut milk, and pandan paste until well incorporated. If you want to make your own pandan extract, you can find the recipe at my previous Pandan Extract. But for this Putu Ayu recipe, simply substitute the water with coconut milk.
Pack grated coconut on the bottom of the mold and pour the pandan cake batter on the top until almost full. Steam and you will know they are ready when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Once they are cooked through, you loosen the edges with a knife and take the cake out of the mold. Serve it upside down so that the coconut layer is on the top.
Do you think Putu Ayu’s appearance lives up to its name? It thinks it does because I received a lot of messages from my Instagram story saying they look so cute. If you make the recipe, please tell me how it is in the comment section or simply tag me on your post or story.
More Indonesian Dessert Recipes
If you do not know, I have other traditional Indonesian dessert recipes that you will love.
- Klepon (Pandan Glutinous Rice Balls with Palm Sugar Filling)
- Kue Lumpang Ijo (Pandan Sticky Rice Cakes)
- Biji Salak (Sweet Potato Balls with Palm Sugar Porridge and Coconut Milk)
- Pandan Coconut Ice Cream
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Thanks for sharing this recipe. What can you substitute cake stabilizer with?
Jaja Bakes says
First of all, let me explain how ovalette/cake stabilizer works for this cake. Ovalette is basically an emulsifier that helps the eggs to rise rapidly and stiffly. It plays a significant role in increasing the volume through easy-foaming, incorporates and stabilize the air bubbles in the batter, yielding cakes with a soft and light texture. Thus, the addition of ovalette can reduce the eggs used, by substituting a certain percentage of eggs with a small amount of cake stabilizer to achieve the same batter volume.
But worry not if you don’t have it because you can completely omit the ovalette. You may need to adjust the recipe a little bit:
1. The usage of ovalette increases the volume of the cake and reduces the eggs used. Therefore, I suggest adding 1 more egg to the recipe to create the same volume. Make sure to use room temperature eggs since they whip up to much greater volume when at room temperature.
2. Start by whipping the eggs first until they become frothy. Then, add the sugar little by little (divide the sugar in 3-4 parts) until they become white and tripled. The beaten egg should by flowing down very slowly. Try to write an “8” on top of the batter. I want to note that it will take longer for you to whip the eggs since you don’t use the ovalette. It probably will take 15-20 minutes to whip the eggs, so I suggest using a stand mixer instead of a hand mixer.
3. Since you don’t add stabilizer into the eggs, mix the remaining ingredients (flour and coconut milk) with a spatula with folding motion instead of using a mixer. This will prevent the batter for being overmixed. You don’t want to overmix the batter because you will lose the air bubbles you have worked on. Thus, creating a denser cake.
4. Make sure to work fast and have everything (ingredients and steamer) ready before you work on the batter. Just like many sponge cake recipes, the batter can’t last too long outside since we rely on the egg foam to make the cake rises.
If you are a beginner in making a sponge cake, I really suggest sticking to the recipe (using cake stabilizer) because it is so much easier and quicker to make. But if you are not, you will be fine with the adjustments I have explained above.