The Fried Dough Sticks With Many Names
Cakwe is one of the popular street foods in Indonesia that you can find in almost all regions of the country. It’s a deep-fried savoury snack with a similar texture to doughnuts, but it’s slightly chewy.
This Chinese influenced cruller has many names. In Malaysia and Singapore, those fried dough sticks are called you char kwe, or you char kuey, which all derive from the Cantonese language. The Philippines call those savoury doughnuts Bicho-Bicho or shakoy. In Vietnam, they are called Dao dhao quay. And in Thailand, the name is pa thong ko or patongo.
But all those names refer to the same thing, which is Chinese You Tiao.
You can enjoy Cakwe as savoury snacks dipped in a mild chilli sauce. It’s very common street food, that in Indonesia one will just buy it off the street sellers.
And this cruller is also a must-have ingredient of rice porridge/ congee for morning breakfast.
In Indonesia, we have Bubur Ayam, the rice congee with shredded chicken as the main garnish, together with all sorts of other garnishes such as Cakwe.
Different Ingredients Equals Different Result
There are so many allegedly authentic youtiao recipes out there. But I often get discouraged with the amount of effort and time I have to put into making this long stick dough.
A good recipe that I like is this you tiao recipe by The Woks of Life. I did try it and it’s good. But it’s too much hassle for me because it takes hours and hours for the dough to develop the gluten. So I stayed away.
Then I came across a good Cakwe recipe in Indonesian by Endeus. And I’m quite happy with the result because it is easy to follow and quick to make.
However, it is a little bit too chewy for my liking.
When I compared the two recipes, there were significantly different ingredients between them.
Egg and yeast.
So I tweaked the recipe. Combining the missing ingredients of each recipe into my developed way.
And I must say I’m happy with the result. Because I managed to make the Cakwe in less than 2 hours. And it has a springy texture with enough chewiness. It totally reminds me of the delicious Cakwe I used to buy while I was in Indonesia.
Simple Method To Make
Like almost all of my recipes, this Cakwe recipe uses the dump-everything-in-the-bowl method with short proofing time. That’s how simple it is.
So, you want to get a large enough mixing bowl for the mixture.
Then place all the dry ingredients in the bowl. From flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and yeast. All of them. You can stir it so that it’s all mixed.
Next, you whisk the egg and lukewarm water (slightly warmer than the lukewarm temperature is best) in a jug.
Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until all is combined.
Do not feel discouraged if the mixture is a bit moist. Just keep mixing until you get a smooth dough.
It takes me about 5 minutes to mix it by hand. You can do it using a stand mixer too.
If I use my stand mixer, it usually takes 2-3 minutes to get a nice smooth dough.
Then you put the dough in an oiled bowl. Let it rest and expand for at least 1 hour in a warm temperature and about 2 hours or more when the weather is slightly cool.
Shaping and cooking the crullers
Once your dough looks double in size, punch it and roll it into a rectangle shape of 9”x12” with 0.25” thickness.
You can use a little flour to dust your work area and your hands if you find the dough is rather wet and sticky.
Using a pizza cutter, you cut it in half lengthwise. Then cut into 16 small rectangles of 1.5”x4.5” along the width. Try your best to make them equal.
Take one rectangle and put it on top of another rectangle. And do the same with the rest of the pieces that you will end up having 8 stacked rectangles.
Pick a chopstick and press it on the middle of the stacked rectangle lengthwise. The idea is you want to stick the two dough pieces. Do the same with all the pieces.
When all is done, heat the oil in a large deep frying pan or a wok.
Check the oil temperature by frying a pinch of the dough. It should be steadily fast cooking but not too rapid.
If you think the oil is ready and hot, take one of the stacked dough pieces.
Hold both ends with your hands and gently pull the dough that it stretches about twice as long as the original length.
Next, you want to carefully slide the pulled long dough into the hot oil. Fry it until it’s risen, fully cooked and light golden in colour. To make things easy, use chopsticks to turn the Cakwe around in the oil.
Optional chilli sauce dip
If you have the Cakwe as a snack, it’s best eaten fresh with a mild chilli sauce dip that has a bit of tangy taste.
You can make this sauce by mixing ⅓ cup of chilli sauce (preferably Indonesian chilli sauce or Sriracha sauce) with 1 cup of water, 1 ½ tbsp white vinegar (I sometimes use Japanese rice vinegar), and 2 tsp cornflour/ cornstarch.
Mix all the ingredients and cook it until it’s boiling. The sauce will be slightly thick.
Taste the sauce, and feel free to add any ingredients according to your personal taste.
Ideally, it should taste salty, spicy, tangy and a little bit sweet.
Top Tips For The Best Cakwe
- Make sure your raising agents such as baking powder, baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and yeast are still new and fresh. Because if they are too old and have been open for too long, they lose their effectiveness.
- Do not temp to knead the dough for too long. We don’t want to cause the gluten to develop too much to the point of the dough become “bready”.
- The warm water temperature can help the yeast to work fast. Try to avoid using cold water. Mix it with hot water if needs be.
Keep It For Long
Technically, you can keep the Cakwe for about three days. But I personally find refrigerating or freezing the leftovers is better than keeping them at room temperature.
All I do is just pop the Cakwe in the microwave for about 10-20 seconds to reheat. And it will regain its elasticity and chewiness.
Thank you so very much for checking this Cakwe recipe. I hope you’re now wanting to try it. If you do, can you please share what you think about it in the comments below? I’d really appreciate it.
Before you go, please check out my other snack recipes that you may love.
- Better than takeout Chicken Popcorn.
- Poffertjes: the Dutch mini pancakes recipe with yeast.
- Cilok recipe: chewy tapioca dumpling balls.
- Aloo Paratha: Pakistani style potato-stuffed flatbread.
- Aloo Tikki recipe: Pakistani style.
Thank you and all the best.