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Kuih Puteri Ayu | Sweet Princess

Kuih Puteri Ayu | Nat YusopFinally!

After a month-plus of hibernation, the computer is up and running, and behaving. Sweeeeet!

Having to shake off the cobwebs from my greying noggin, I thought I’d revisit an old tea-time family favourite. This Malaysian kuih is called Puteri Ayu, which literally translates to “Sweet Princess”. It is an airy, steamed sponge cake made with an extract of fragrant pandanus (aka screwpine) leaves and coconut milk, and a crown of fresh desiccated/finely shredded coconut flesh. Simple eats, but best of all, natural.

Puteri Ayu are made in mini bundt plastic moulds (=molds). The thing is, I can’t verify if the plastic moulds are of food-grade quality though, but these moulds are still in rampant production after all these years and are sold in most local sundry shops….so fingers crossed!

Puteri Ayu cake moulds | Nat YusopThese moulds come in psychedelic colours, and usually are sold in sets of 10 or 12. I was hoping for hot pink, fluorescent green or cheerful orange ones, but the shop only had two colours on hand. Duck egg blue won over the earthy beige!

Dessicated coconut | Nat YusopI got the desiccated coconut from the neighbourhood grocer, where the coconut is processed before you. Having not made the Puteri Ayu since I was 16, I forgot to request for clean whites (and got a major earbashing from my mum for that oversight later), so the grocer scrapped the coconut down to the husk, resulting in flecks of the brown husk mingling with the milky white coconut flesh. For one thing, that means I scored less on aesthetics – it still made for an edible kuih, but obviously a “cleaner” yield of all-whites would have been nicer. What’s that? Pick out the flecks manually then, you say? A little bit of roughage is always good for the system, methinks. πŸ˜‰

The recipe makes a batter for 34 pieces of kuih, which needs about 120 g of desiccated coconut.

You will need to add 1/2 teaspoon of fine salt and 1 teaspoon of corn flour to the 120 g of dessicated coconut, and mix well. The corn flour will make the dessicated coconut retain its moulded shaped once you release the sponge cake from the mould. If you omit the corn flour (and I did this with one batch, just to see what magic happens), no biggie; you might just have to contend with the occasional wayward coconut flesh that fall off the cake top.

Most of the Puteri Ayu recipes advocate that you oil the moulds before laying down the coconut (either lightly brush the insides with any cooking oil, or use a non-stick spray if you will) but I did nothing of the sort – I forgot! However the kuih turned out well, and I think this is not a major problem to intentionally overlook this starting point.

Spoon in about half a tablespoon of dessicated coconut into each mould. Then stack the moulds on top of each other. The coconut will be pressed down tightly and physics will do the rest to set them in place.

Physics in action | Nat YusopYou can then set the coconut-filled moulds aside while you bring a pot of water to a boil. I used a 5 L pot which has a steamer insert, which works out fine; most households here may have a wok with the bamboo/steel steamer racks.

Now to start on the batter.

You will need:

200 g caster sugar
300 g all purpose flour (I used cake flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 oz coconut milk
Pandanus extract, 40 ml (Pulverise 5 to 10 leaves in a blender with about a tablespoon of potable water. Aim for a wet paste. You will then need to strain the paste) {Non-purists may opt to just use a teaspoon of artificial pandanus flavour, with green food colouring. Sshhhhh, I won’t tell. No one will really know the difference…unless you get all Incredible Hulk on the food colouring}
4 large eggs

I find that this is a recipe which benefits from the use of an electric mixer for whipping the eggs into a super pale yellow almost-foamy consistency. First bung all the eggs into a deep bowl and beat till frothy. Add the caster sugar in increments, while continuing with the mixing. Once all of the sugar has been incorporated, turn the mixer up a notch and let ‘er rip – it will take about 4 minutes to reach that almost-foamy consistency stage (and you will notice the deep yellow will lighten considerably; and you can also look out for the light ribbons as the egg mixture falls across the surface). Add the coconut milk and pandanus extract and mix well.

Pandanus Extract | Nat Yusop

Sift the flour and baking powder together. Use a rubber spatula to fold portions of the flour mix into the egg mixture, and repeat until all has been incorporated.

Spoon in the batter to fill right up to the brim of each mould.

Place the moulds into the steamer (cover the inside of the lid with a clean kitchen cloth, and bring up the ends over the cover – this prevents the condensate from falling onto the steamed cakes and ruining the texture). The sponge cakes take about 10-15 minutes to cook. At the 10 minute mark, if they have not formed round domes, leave them in until at the max 15 minute mark.

Perfect Puteri Ayu | Nat Yusop

Round and even domes

Allow the cakes to cool to touch (takes about 5 minutes, still warm). Because I don’t have the luxury of a multi-racked steamer, I could only crank out 8 cakes at a time. So as long as I could hold these freshly steamed cakes without yelping, I turned them out by first pinching at the sides to loosen them up.

Asbestos-fingers I do not have

Asbestos-fingers I do not have

So then these were eased out of the bundt moulds and left to cool further on a wire rack.

Puteri Ayu | Nat YusopIf you don’t like desiccated coconut, you could still make them sans crowning glory.

Pseudo Puteri Ayu | Nat YusopPostscript:

Puteri Ayu needs an ingredient called Ovalette, which apparently is a cake stabiliser used mostly in Southeast Asian sponge cake recipes to retain that fluffy state of being. It is a concoction of monoglyceride, polyglycerol, polysorbate, sorbitol, propylene glycol, tartrazine and water. I did not use Ovalette but instead just relied on the natural emulsifying properties of egg yolks (lecithin phospholipids) to work their magic (hence the 4 minute whip).

11 comments on “Kuih Puteri Ayu | Sweet Princess

  1. Sharina
    December 31, 2012

    Nice! Will have to try these next when the “to steam” mood strikes. As mentioned, the last time I made these, it would not budge from the mould hence need to be spooned and totally ruining the sweetness of the princess in making. πŸ˜› Ish3.. thanks for the step by step instructions too! πŸ™‚

    • Nat Yusop | BakeSlave
      December 31, 2012

      Oh hey Nina! Do make some – I’d love to see the ceramic moulds you use. Thanks for putting the fear of food-grade plastics into me, ha ha! πŸ™‚

  2. soulofspice
    December 31, 2012

    WOW! I want to eat Kuih Puteri Ayu right now.. If I visit Malaysia, do you think I could get it in stores just like you made them? just one question, I have to help a lot of non egg eaters..possible to leave out eggs in this recipe?? thanks for a terrific treat Nat!

    • Nat Yusop | BakeSlave
      December 31, 2012

      Hi Charu! If you are ever in my neck of the woods, I’ll take you around to the best eats in town! Our local kuihs are usually found as street eats, and in the suburbs. You could find kuih sold from Food Courts in most of the malls here (but the best ones are the home made ones, coconut husks and all, hahaha!).

      I don’t think the Puteri Ayu can be converted to an egg-less recipe though 😦 It relies on the natural emulsifying properties of the egg yolks to hold the flour and coconut milk together. Hmmmm. I guess you could make it egg-less, then it will be a New Age appam of sorts (is the world ready for a pandanus appam :P?)
      PS: Still have not forgotten about the orange spiced cake challenge – new year bake bucket list!

      • soulofspice
        January 2, 2013

        that’s so generous of you Nat! I’ll most certainly take you up on your offer… never know when I’ll suddenly viist Malaysia, I hope soon, since I want to visit both Malaysia & Indonesia & taste your amazing street foods…

      • soulofspice
        January 3, 2013

        just got your joke on pandanus appam πŸ™‚ sorry it took me so long…better late than never though.. can’t wait to see the orange spiced cake, whenever you get some time…

  3. kamcheechee
    January 1, 2013

    I love your puteris and putra.they are well made, beautiful to see ,hold and kiss.The edible ones are of course delicious.Care to make more?If too many can share with us.Very welcome.

    • Nat Yusop | BakeSlave
      January 1, 2013

      Errrr okay Aunty – you got me scratching my head with your first couple of sentences then it dawned on me you were referring to my kids. Phew! LOL!

  4. Gracie
    January 4, 2013

    These Kuih are hands down my favorite kuih in the world. I really need to make and eat these ASAP. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  5. Pingback: Appreciation-5 awards | soulofspice

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This entry was posted on December 30, 2012 by in Malaysian Kuih, No-bake and tagged , , , , .
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