This delicious Indonesian steamed cake is not difficult to make and worth a try. Roti kukus (also called bolu kukus) is the official name for this steamed delicacy.

Roti kukus

Roti kukus recipe

The very first time I made a steamed cake it kind of failed completely. Steaming a cake is really very different from baking a cake. This roti kukus is more like an Indonesian steamed bread than a cake really. It does have a lot of sugar in it, but no butter or anything. Eating it warm out of the steamer with some butter is delicious and perfect for your lunch break. 

​Making the roti kukus

Making the roti kukus recipe is not complicated but it requires a bit of a different method than you might be used to for a regular cake. I made this roti kukus with my Indonesian friend as I had not ever heard from this particular bread or cake before.

You first start by making the white batter by mixing the eggs with the sugar and the salt. You can do that on the highest speed of your stand mixer or regular mixer. You than add the 7-up or you can use regular soda water. Make sure to cover your steamer with parchment paper both at the bottom and on the sides. The batter consistency is somewhere a bit firmer than pancake batter but still quite runny.

Now you place the biggest part of the batter into the pan and add the rest to a small bowl. The rest of the batter is mixed with the cocoa powder and blended together. Add the chocolate batter on top of the batter already in the pan and use a fork or a spatula to create a marbled effect on the cake.  The fun part is that you can create different flavors with the batter. Green with pandan or brown with cocoa powder or any other flavor your like.

Making the roti kukus

Cover the lid of your steamer with a clean tea towel. This will prevent water dripping in. Now fill the bottom part of your pan with a bit of water and bring to the boil. Add the batter containing part to it and cover with the lid that is wrapped in the tea towel. Leave to simmer and steam on medium heat. Do make sure that the pan doesn’t go dry in between so make sure there is enough water in the pan. 

it should steam somewhere around 30 minutes depending on the size of your roti kukus. If you make little roti kukus (using a cupcake liner for instance) the time is different so check if the cake is cooked. 

If you check online you will find various versions of the roti kukus. Big or small and some separate the eggs and whisk the egg whites and the egg yolks separately. That might make things fluffier, but I haven’t tried this myself. We used self rising flour but you can also use all purpose flour with a bit of baking powder.

Which steamer

You can either use a bamboo steamer or a more modern kind of steamer. Both work fine. Let the Indonesian steamed sponge cake come to room temperature and eat with a bit of butter or anything else you like.

Also check this steamed kue lapis cake.

Roti kukus

roti kukus

5 from 1 vote

Indonesian recipe. Delicious and easy to make steamed cake. Great as breakfast or served as a bread for brunch
Decorative clock showing preparation time
Prep time 15 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes
Total time 45 minutes

12 people


  • Steamer


  • 3 eggs
  • 200 gr sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 100 ml 7-up or soda water
  • 250 gr self rising flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

  • Mix the eggs with the sugar and the salt. Add the 7-up and last the self rising flour. Mix everything well and make sure it is smooth and lump free. Cover your steamer with baking paper and make sure it covers both the bottom as well as the sides.
  • Put the biggest part of your batter into the pan. Mix the rest of the batter with the cocoa powder. Add this into the pan as well and use a fork or a spatula to make a marbled pattern
  • Cover the lid of the pan with a teatowel (to prevent water dripping in)
  • Fill the bottom part of your pan with water and bring to the boil. Put the part with the batter on top and cover with the lid wrapped in the teatowel. leave to simmer and steam on medium fire and make sure it does not boil dry.
  • Serve the cake warm with a bit of butter.

Nutrition Information per portion

Calories: 163kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Trans Fat: 0.004g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 20mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 60IU | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.4mg


The nutritional values above are calculated per portion. The details are based on standard nutritional tables and do not constitute a professional nutritional advice.

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Simone van den Berg

Food blogger from the Netherlands. Loves good food. Likes to create healthy and easy recipes for daily use, but also loves the occasional sweet dish. Lives in the Netherlands with her two cats; Humphrey and Buffy. Profession: Food photographer, food blogger, recipe developer and nutritionist