Steamed Fruit Cake or Kek Kukus Buah (杂果蒸糕)



Being hailed from Sarawak, I have a chance to taste many Malay steamed cakes that are sinfully rich. These cake are delicious, slightly chewy and dense.


If you have a chance to taste these cakes, you will definitely opt for it if there is a choice between baked and steamed cakes. These cakes are usually sold at a very high premium.. The reasons are simple, they are using very rich expensive ingredients and these cake usually take a long hours to steam to get that texture and well incorporated taste.. How long is long? It can range  from 1-2 hours to 3-4 hours of continuous steaming depending on the size of the cake.


That is also the reason partially deter me from trying many delicious Malay traditional cake recipes.. Mind you, 4 hours of steaming is not a joke.. It takes lots of supervision and gas bills. But for this fruit cake, I have purposely looked for a steamed cake recipe since I already have a lot of baked recipe. The first thing that came into my mind is the Malay version or Kek Kukus buah buahan or fruit cake.


Looking at the picture, one will be able to tell that the cake is very moist, almost crust less. It is dense and slightly chewy. It can be cut into very nice pieces and with a distinctive dark colour. These dark colour is specially made. Unlike western fruit cake that uses brown sugar or molasses to colour the fruit cake, the sugars are caramelized first to get the colour.


Since this is a Malay recipe, very logically there is no alcohol being used. If you want , you can soak your fruit with rum or cherry wine or add a few tablespoons of rum to the the cake batter. After it is baked, spray alcohol on the cake.


I must say this recipe is a keeper but the only thing that I am unsure is that it is not sweet to the my taste bud. I have reanalyse the recipe twice and I may have wrongly measure the sugar. Therefore, I will provide the original recipe and let reader try out. I especially loved the chewy texture and once you try this fruit cake, I am sure you will continue to prepare this.


As discussed above, this fruit cake need 4 hours of continuous steaming for a 8”-10” tray. I do not have the patience or the kitchen gadget for the steaming. I can’t find any kitchen utensil in my house that can house an 8”-10” square pan and I will need to buy again. So what I did is to steam in a 6 inches diameter round pan. All the remaining , I put in a rectangular baking tin or 4” x 4” x 8” and i steamed bake it. Overall, it took me about 2 hours to steam this much smaller cake. and 1 hour to steam bake the other cake. Can you differentiate by look? Not really but texture wise, you will be able to tell that steamed version is much better than steamed bake. Steamed is still better than steamed baked.


The round cake looked flatter and the rectangle cake seems to be fluffier. It is not true, it is my own mistake of the batter distribution. After first distribution, i found that my rectangle cake batter seems to be too little, I scoped some batter from the centre of the round tin and forget to to level it before steaming. However, for readers, you should not have this problem at all. Lastly I want to say thanks to the blogger who provided this recipe.



Recipe adapted from:  masam manis: KEK BUAH KUKUS

Servings: Prepare an 8” x 8”  cake


  • 500 grams of mixed fruits
  • 350 grams of plain flour
  • 300 grams of white sugar
  • 250 grams of butter
  • 50 grams or ml of hot water
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed spice or nutmeg powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence



  • Lightly grease the your preferred baking tray. If you are steaming, get hold a steamer with boiling water and if steamed bake, pre-heat the oven to 160 degree Celsius.

PicMonkey Collage1

  • In a pot, put the sugar and on to medium heat. Melt the sugar until it become sugar syrup and start to turn golden brown. Add the 50 grams of hot water and stir until the sugar dissolves.


  • The colour changes from transparent sugar syrup to golden syrup can be rather fast. So, always used medium to low heat. Too brownish or golden will make you cake bitter.

  • When you add the hot water, be careful as steams will rush out and some spilling may happen. So do it carefully at low heat.

  • The main purpose of this step is to get the colour, if you prefer lighter coloured fruit cake, you can add the water faster. If you prefer darker colour, add slightly later but make sure it did not become too dark and it will become bitter.

PicMonkey Collage2

  • Melt the butter in the hot sugar syrup follow by adding the mixed fruit. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes before off the heat. Let it cool until body temperature before proceeding the next step.

  • When cooled, sift in the nutmeg powder, baking soda and plain flour, fold until it become a sticky mass. Add in the beaten eggs, stir until a smooth batter is formed.

PicMonkey Collage3

  • Transfer the cake to your preferred greased or lined baking pan. Cover the baking tin with a piece of aluminium foil.
  • For baking, place a tray of water at the lower rack of the oven, bake in the oven for about 1 hour until the cake is set and a skewer test inserts at the centre of the cake comes out clean. Timing is for your reference and very much depends on the size and height of the cake. . At 45 minutes juncture, you can open the aluminium foil and do the skewer test.

  • For steaming, steam the cake at high heat for at least 2 hours and that depends on the size and height of the cake. For a 6 inches round baking tray, it took me about 2 hours. For an 8 inches baking tray, it is expected to be at least 3-4 hours. After 2 hour juncture, you can open the aluminium foil and do the skewer test. Watch out for the water level and you may need to refill the hot water. Set aside a kettle of hot boiling water for this purpose.

  • The cake will further develop its taste after resting 1-2 days.



  • If you want to incorporate alcohol to the cake, you can either add a small quantities of fruit based alcohol to the batter before steaming and subsequently SPRAY  the alcohol to the cake when it is out of the steamer.

  • For keeping, it is recommended that once cooled completely, wrapped the cake tightly with an aluminium foil to prevent water loss, put in an air tight container in a freezer.



I am unsure how long the fruit cake can be kept but experience shows that alcohol cake and long steaming fruit cake can keep very well in the freezer possibly up to year if not contaminated. Passion pays off and if you have never try a steamed cake, you should give it a go.. Lastly, remember that over caramelized sugar will give you a bitter cake. On the other hand, the right colour caramelized sugar with give you a special aroma that other fruit cakes will not be able to provide you.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 13 March 2015)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts. Also follow me at INSTAGRAM or TSU, a new social network for some more personal sharing other than recipes.

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7 thoughts on “Steamed Fruit Cake or Kek Kukus Buah (杂果蒸糕)

  1. Pingback: Thanksgiving and Christmas 2015 Special Compilation (2015 圣诞节特别汇编) | GUAI SHU SHU

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