Spekkoek kueh lapis

Spekkoek kueh lapis

Many-layered spice cake

The Complete Asian Cookbook
Alan Benson

This fascinating cake is not difficult to make, but you do need patience for the special cooking method. The layers, each hardly thicker than a wafer biscuit, are baked and then grilled one at a time. Be prepared to hover over the oven for a couple of hours — preferably when the weather is cold enough to make this a comfortable occupation! Some people prefer a light-textured cake, while others prefer a pudding-like texture which is richer and sweeter. If the former is to your taste use the recipe as printed. But if you prefer a sweeter, moist cake that most Indonesians consider the acme of their sweetmeats, then use only 75 g plain four and four egg whites instead of eight. The cake is served in very small, thin slices as it is so rich.


Quantity Ingredient
10 egg yolks
330g caster sugar
250g butter, plus extra, melted (optional)
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
8 egg whites
225g plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves


  1. Whisk the egg yolks with 110 g of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, until thick and light.
  2. Cream the butter with 165 g of the sugar and the vanilla extract until light and smooth.
  3. In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then add the remaining sugar and whisk again until glossy.
  4. Mix the egg yolk and butter mixtures together well. Fold in the flour, then the egg whites. Divide the mixture into two almost equal portions and mix the ground spices into the slightly larger portion.
  5. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Lightly grease a 20 cm spring-form cake tin with softened butter and line the base with buttered baking paper. Dust with flour, shaking out any excess.
  6. Put 1/3 cup of the cake batter into the tin and spread with a spatula — tap the tin firmly on the work surface to help the batter spread thinly and evenly. Bake in the centre of the oven until firm, about 10 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat the griller and place the tin under it for 30–40 seconds, about 15 cm away from the heat, until the top is evenly browned. Watch carefully so it does not burn — a dark coffee colour is what you should aim for.
  8. Spread the same amount of plain (unspiced) batter over the first baked layer, return to the oven and cook for 10 minutes, then place under the griller as before. Continue with this layering until all the batter has been used, alternating the spice and plain layers and spreading the batter as thin as possible.
  9. The extra melted butter is for those who like a really buttery cake, and is used to brush lightly over each layer after it has been grilled and before the next layer of batter is spread over.
  10. When the last layer has been baked, insert a skewer in the centre. It should emerge slightly buttery, but not with uncooked batter clinging to it; bake for a few minutes longer if necessary. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack, then remove the side of the tin and cut into thin slices to serve.
The Complete Asian Cookbook
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