Apem Cake

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Apem cake is a traditional sweet dessert in Indonesia. It is made of flour, tapioca flour, coconut milk, and fermented cassava. It has been a culinary heritage passed down through many generations.

Apem pandan

Apem Cake is a legendary traditional Indonesian snack that has a deep philosophical meaning. Apem cake represents forgiveness from many mistakes. That’s why during traditional festivities, apem is always at one corner among other delightful snacks.

I have known Apem cake since childhood because I used to live in kampong area where there were still many people gathered for traditional celebrations.

There were many variations of apem cake. Each had its own uniqueness and flavor. It also acted as a symbol of gratitude in a traditional celebrations.

Nowadays, even though modern generations rarely involve in cultural activities, they still love this traditional dessert. That’s why it remains popular until now.

Apem Cake Origin

Apem is believed to originate from Central Java, specifically Jogjakarta. It was first introduced by Ki Ageng Gribig, a descendant of King Brawijaya who made the cake and distribute it to the hungry villagers at that time.

apem with fermented cassava

However, another source claimed the cake came from India. It is called “Appam” which has similar pronunciation as Apem.

In West Java, Apem cake is considered food to ward off evil or bad luck. Therefore, you can still see Apem served in Ramadan, birth celebrations, thanksgiving and even funerals.

Fermented Cassava Or Not?

There are many variations of Apem Cake. I have known and tried two different recipes. One with fermented cassava and one without.

I think both has its own uniqueness. The one with fermented cassava tends to be more dense than the one without. Apem cake without fermented cassava is lighter.

apem cake with fermented cassava

They both are soft and tender. Another difference is that the one with fermented cassava smells fragrant from the fermented cassava.

For those who find it difficult to find fermented cassava in your area, you can try the one without.

Variations

The original Apem cake is white, the color is from the coconut milk. From the original recipe, many variations are created, while still maintaining the traditional flavor.

Here in this article I have pandan flavor with real pandan extract. I love pandan leaves fragrance and the color is beautiful.

white rice cake

Another popular variation is the one with palm sugar or coconut sugar. The color is brown from the sugar.

Apem Cake comes in many shapes and it varies in thickness. You can see there are so many variations in Indonesia.

If you have tried the original recipe and would like to try your creativity, maybe you can create a new variation. Pumpkin or purple yam can be new options to try out!

Ingredients And Preparations

You do not need prepare too much in advance. You just need to grease the pan you want to use and preheat the steamer beforehand.

Ingredients are flour, tapioca flour, pandan extract, sugar, salt, condensed milk, instant yeast, and coconut milk. If you don’t have pandan extract, you can substitute it with store-bought pandan essence.

Let me tell you the few ingredients that you can substitute to create a new variation for apem cake!

Fermented cassava can be substituted with pumpkin puree. If you decide to make pumpkin version, substitute the pandan water with plain water.

Fermented Cassava

Fermented Cassava often called Tape Singkong in Indonesia plays a very important role in traditional culinary heritage. Tape Singkong has been used in many traditional snacks and dessert.

fermented cassava tape singkong
Fermented Cassava / Tape Singkong

Cassava is fermented using rice yeast for several days. The cassava becomes soft and yellow in color after several days of fermentation.

It is a very healthy food actually. Fermented cassava possess probiotic properties, which supports gut health and help with blood sugar management.

Apem Cake With Fermented Cassava

  • 150 gr fermented cassava
  • 200 gr flour
  • 50 gr tapioca flour
  • 250 cc thick coconut milk
  • 1½ teaspoon yeast
  • 100 cc of pandan water
  • 150 gr sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 grated coconut

How To

  • Beat fermented cassava until soft.
  • In another mixing bowl, pour in pandan water. Add sugar, salt, and condensed milk into it. Mix well until sugar dissolves.
  • Sieve flour and tapioca flour. Add the softened fermented cassava. Pour in coconut milk and add instant yeast.
  • Mix evenly with a spatula.
  • Pour in the pandan mixture. Stir until all dry ingredients dissolve evenly.
  • Sieve to have a soft and smooth batter. Cover with cling wrap and let it ferment for one hour.
  • After one hour, the batter has doubled its size. Stir for a while.
  • Pour into a 16×16 cm greased pan.
  • Knock a few times to let out the air inside.
  • Steam with high heat for 35 minutes in a preheated steamer.
  • Meanwhile, steam freshly grated coconut with salt and pandan leaves for 15 minutes.
  • When the cake is done steaming, take it out and let it cool completely before cutting the cake.
  • Enjoy with steamed coconut.

Apem Cake Without Fermented Cassava

  • 225 gr all purpose flour
  • 75 gr tapioca flour
  • 160 gr sugar
  • 3 gr instant yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 300 ml water
  • 50 ml pandan extract
  • Pandan paste (optional)
  • Shredded coconut + salt (steam)

Sweetened Steamed Coconut

  • 150-200 gr shredded coconut
  • 50 gr coconut sugar
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • 75 ml water
  • 3 pcs pandan leaves
  • ¼  tsp salt

How To

  • Sieve the flour, tapioca flour into a mixing bowl. Add in sugar and yeast. Mix with a whisk. Add 350 ml pandan water. Mix well using the whisk. Add salt and mix well.
  • Cover with cling wrap and let it ferment for 50 minutes.
  • For the topping. Add grated coconut, palm sugar, regular sugar, and salt in a pan. Pour in water. Add pandan leaves. Cook until all sugar is absorbed by the coconut and it changes color to brown. Set aside.
  • After 50 minutes of fermentation, stir the batter using a spatula. Pour into a greased pan. Steam in a preheated steamer for 30 minutes.
  • Take out the cake from the pan and let it cool completely. Cut the middle part like a sandwich. Put in sweetened coconut or unsweetened coconut. For unsweetened coconut, just add one teaspoon salt into steamed coconut and mix well.
  • Serve the steamed cake with steamed coconut.
  • Enjoy with a cup of tea or black coffee.

Serving Apem Cake

Apem Cake can be served with steamed grated coconut. Add a dash of salt while steaming the coconut. It adds an interesting twist to the coconut and the cake.

If you like palm sugar or coconut sugar, melt the palm sugar with some water and pandan leaves. Drizzle some on the Apem cake.

Another way to eat Apem cake is plain apem cake as it is.

Storage And Freshness

If you have to keep the apem cake for the next day, store in an airtight container. Keep in the chiller for up to three days.

However, please keep the grated coconut separately. This will keep the cake and the coconut’s freshness.

Steam again for 10 minutes before serving.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: What is Apem? Where did it come from?

A: Apem is steamed cake made with flour and tapioca flour. There is version made with fermented cassava and another without. It came from Central Java, Indonesia.

Q: What is the role of fermented cassava in Apem? Is it a compulsory ingredient?

A: Fermented cassava is just a variation in making Apem. It helps soften the cake and add fragrance. You can always make Apem cake without fermented cassava. In fact, I have attached two recipes for Apem Cake, one with fermented cassava and one without.

Q: Is Apem Cake vegetarian or vegan friendly?

A: Apem cake is vegetarian and vegan friendly. There are no eggs or dairy products in the recipe.

Q: Can I keep the leftover Apem Cake?

A: Yes, you can keep the leftover separately from steamed coconut. Keep in the chiller for up to 3 days. Steam it again before consuming.

Q: Is there a different way to serve Apem Cake?

A: This cake is usually served with steamed grated coconut. If you like palm sugar or coconut sugar, you can also drizzle it on top of the cake. You can also it Apem Cake as it is.

Conclusion

Apem is a traditional Indonesian dessert that has been passed down through so many generations. It is a culinary heritage that so many Indonesian people love.

It is very easy to make Apem cake on your own, with or without fermented cassava. All the ingredients are easy to get at any grocery stores. Just follow the instructions as I have mentioned in two recipes above. It is really worth trying!

If you like traditional cake with grated coconut, you might also like Getuk Lindri or Ongol-ongol.

Other traditional cake that uses pandan extract is Putu Ayu Pandan and Pandan Serabi

apem with fermented cassava

APEM with Fermented Cassava

Yield: 16 pcs
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Apem is a traditional Indonesian snack, enjoyed with steamed grated coconut. Made with fermented cassava that adds tenderness to its texture!

Ingredients

  • 150 gr fermented cassava
  • 200 gr flour
  • 50 gr tapioca flour
  • 250 cc thick coconut milk
  • 1½ teaspoon yeast
  • 100 cc of pandan water
  • 150 gr sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk

Topping

  • 1 grated coconut
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 pandan leaves

Instructions

    1. Beat fermented cassava until soft.
    2. In another mixing bowl, pour in pandan water. Add sugar, salt, and condensed milk into it. Mix
      well until sugar dissolves.
    3. Sieve flour and tapioca flour. Add the softened fermented cassava. Pour in coconut milk and
      add instant yeast.
    4. Mix evenly with a spatula.
    5. Pour in the pandan mixture. Stir until all dry ingredients dissolve evenly.
    6. Sieve to have a soft and smooth batter. Cover with cling wrap and let it ferment for one hour.
    7. After one hour, the batter has doubled its size. Stir for a while.
    8. Pour into a 16x16 cm greased pan.
    9. Knock a few times to let out the air inside.
    10. Steam with high heat for 35 minutes in a preheated steamer.
    11. Meanwhile, steam freshly grated coconut with salt and pandan leaves for 15 minutes.
    12. When the cake is done steaming, take it out and let it cool completely before cutting the cake.
    13. Enjoy with steamed coconut.





Apem pandan

APEM without Fermented Cassava

Yield: 20 pcs
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Apem is traditional Indonesian dessert made of rice flour and yeast. It is served with steamed grated coconut and tastes wonderful with coconut sugar.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 225 gr all purpose flour
  • 75 gr tapioca flour
  • 160 gr sugar
  • 3 gr instant yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 300 ml water
  • 50 ml pandan extract
  • Pandan paste (optional)
  • Shredded coconut + salt (steam)

Sweetened Coconut

  • 150-200 gr shredded coconut
  • 50 gr coconut sugar
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • 75 ml water
  • 3 pcs pandan leaves
  • ¼ tsp salt

Instructions

    1. Sieve the flour, tapioca flour into a mixing bowl. Add in sugar and yeast. Mix with a whisk. Add 350 ml pandan water. Mix well using the whisk. Add salt and mix well.
    2. Cover with cling wrap and let it ferment for 50 minutes.
    3. For the topping: add grated coconut, palm sugar, regular sugar, and salt in a pan.
    4. Pour in water. Add pandan leaves. Cook until all sugar is absorbed by the coconut and it changes color to brown. Set aside.
    5. After 50 minutes of fermentation, stir the batter using a spatula. Pour into a greased pan. Steam in a preheated steamer for 30 minutes.
    6. Take out the cake from the pan and let it cool completely.
    7. Cut the middle part like a sandwich. Put in sweetened coconut or unsweetened coconut.
    8. For unsweetened coconut, just add one teaspoon salt into steamed coconut and mix well.
    9. Serve the steamed cake with steamed coconut.
    10. Enjoy with a cup of tea or black coffee.



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