Cakwe Recipe: Indonesian Chinese Deep-Fried Dough Sticks

/ / / Cakwe Recipe: Indonesian Chinese Deep-Fried Dough Sticks
A pile of Indonesian Cakwe with a small bowl of chilli sauce.

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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.

a stack of Cakwe - Indonesian Chinese crullers on a white napkin.

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. 

photo collage of mixing the egg and water mixture with flour

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. 

photo collage of mixing and kneading the dough.

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.

photo collage of shaping crullers dough sticks

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.

photo collage of frying Cakwe.

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.

photo collage of making chilli sauce for Cakwe

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. 

Related Recipes

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.

And please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest to sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen. 

Before you go, please check out my other snack recipes that you may love.

Thank you and all the best.

Yield: 8 sticks

Cakwe Recipe: Indonesian Chinese Deep-Fried Dough Sticks

a stack of Cakwe - the Indonesian fried dough sticks.

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.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups/ 300 gr/ 10.58 oz/ 0.66 lb plain flour/ all-purpose flour.
  • ½ tsp baking powder.
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda.
  • 1 tsp salt.
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar.
  • 1 tsp dried-instant yeast/ fast action yeast.
  • 1 small egg.
  • 200 ml lukewarm water.
  • Oil for frying.

Instructions

  1. Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Stir well.
  2. In a jug, crack the egg in and add in the water. Whisk it well using a fork.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mix, then pour in the egg and water mixture little by little as you stir and mix until all is combined. Depending on the weather and the room humidity, you may not need all the egg-water mixture.  
  4. You can mix the flour mixture and the egg mixture in a stand mixer if you like. But it won’t take long to do it by hand.
  5. Just keep working and slightly knead the dough until it is smooth. It takes about 5 minutes to do it.
  6. Once you are done with kneading, shape the dough into a big ball and place it in an oiled mixing bowl. Cover it with a cling film or a damp tea towel. Keep the bowl in a dry and warm place for at least 1 hour. 
  7. After the resting time, the dough will be at least doubled in size. Punch it to release the air inside it. 
  8. Dust your work area/ chopping board with a little bit of flour. Then put the dough on it and roll it out onto a rectangle shape about 9”x12” with 0.25” thick.
  9. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough lengthwise in the middle and cut along the width. Aiming at getting a 1.5”x4.5” rectangle. So you will have 16 small rectangles in total. Try your best to cut them in a uniform shape and size.
  10. Pick one rectangle and pile it on top of another rectangle. Using a chopstick, carefully press the middle of the rectangle lengthwise. The idea is to make the two rectangles stick to each other in the centre along its length. 
  11. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or a wok. Check the temperature of the oil by throwing a little piece of dough in the hot oil. If it’s frying up steadily quickly but not too rapidly, the oil is ready.
  12. Now, take a pair of rectangles and hold both ends of the rectangle as you gently pull it apart to making it longer at least doubles in size. Then carefully slide the rectangle dough in the hot oil. Use chopsticks or a tong to turn the cruller around the oil. Fry until it is fully cooked and light golden in colour.

Notes

  • Fry the crullers a few at a time to give them enough space so it will be easy to turn around. 

Nutrition Information

Yield

8

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 223Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 18mgSodium 488mgCarbohydrates 42gFiber 2gSugar 1gProtein 6g

The nutrition calculation you find here is just a guide provided by online nutrition calculator. You should not use to substitute advice from nutritionists or health practitioners.

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