• Gula melaka doughnuts (Donal's Asian Baking Adventure)Source: Donal's Asian Baking Adventure

Gula melaka is a type of palm sugar that comes from the sap of flowers from the coconut palm, and has a smoky flavour and smell. It’s used for a glaze on these sweet-potato doughnuts. 






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (30 votes)


  • 1 sweet potato (approx 500 g)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp fast-action yeast powder
  • 1 heaped tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 175 ml lukewarm milk
  • 50 g soft butter
  • 450 g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt


  • 200 g gula melaka (palm sugar), chopped
  • 75 ml water
  • sunflower oil for frying

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Makes 16 doughnuts or 32 balls 

Resting time: 1 hour 30 minutes

1. Peel and dice the sweet potato, put into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender. Drain well and mash using the back of a fork or a potato masher. Leave to cool.

2. In a food mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, add all the ingredients for the dough (except the flour and salt) including the cooled sweet potato. Mix well until smooth.

3. Now add the flour and salt and beat well for 10 minutes on a medium speed. Remove the paddle, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it forms a smooth dough. Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover with cling film or a tea towel and in a warm place for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to double in size.

4. On a lightly floured clean surface roll out the dough to an inch-thick sausage-shaped roll and divide into 16 pieces and shape each piece into a ball and place on a tray, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for approximately 30 minutes. (The mixture is quite sticky so you will need plenty of flour for dusting.)

5. While they are rising, make the gula melaka glaze. In a medium frying pan add gula melaka and water and gently dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved bring to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until sticky. Set to one side to cool a little.

6. Heat a fat fryer or saucepanful of oil to 190°C. When the fat has reached temperature carefully add the doughnuts and cook in batches for approximately 2-3 minutes on each side, turning over a couple of times throughout the process. Once cooked remove and drain on kitchen paper.

7. When cool enough to handle dip into the glaze and place onto a cooling rack over a baking tray. Leave to set.


This recipe is from Donal's Asian Baking Adventures on SBS Food (Channel 33). Stream episodes via SBS On Demand.