As much as I love sweet desserts, there is something about savoury desserts that calls out to me. Maybe it’s the Malaysian in me. We love that little bit of spice or salt combined with the sweet. Adding spice into a sweet dessert just adds another extra special depth to your taste senses. One of my favourite spice laced cakes is the layer cake commonly found in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Give it a shot and you’ll perhaps find yourself wanting to experiment with a bit of spice in all your desserts.
Commonly known as Kek Lapis Legit, it was first introduced in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial era. The word ‘legit’ here is pronounced as ‘La Gek’ but no matter how you pronounce it, the cake is legit delicious.
The Dutch in Indonesia used to call it ‘Spekkoek’ or lard cake in English. To me, it is indeed a weird choice of name since this cake recipe does not use lard at all. Maybe butter was unavailable then and they resorted to using lard instead. We can only guess, right?
Nonetheless, although it was inspired by the Dutch, it can rarely be found in Holland itself but commonly found in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Making the Cake
This cake consists of many thin layers (at least 18 layers) that require loads of eggs, butter and patience due to the long hours of baking time. I suggest you start baking this early in the day. If not, you’ll end up like me who started baking it at 11pm and finished it in the wee hours of the morning. If you value you ‘zzz’ time, start early!
a) Batter A
- 600g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 240 gram sweet condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
- 180g cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
b) Batter B
- 24 egg yolks
- 179g sugar
c) Batter C
- 12 egg whites
- 110g sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius or 400 Fahrenheit using the option for top and bottom heat. Line and grease only the sides and bottom of an 8″ square cake pan using a piece of parchment paper. Set the tray aside.
- Next, prepare batter A. In a mixing bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy. Then add in the cream of tartar, and sugar in 3 batches. Continue whisking until stiff peaks are formed. Ensure the mixing bowl is clean, dry and not greasy.
- Move on to prepare batter B. In another mixing bowl, cream the butter, sweet condensed milk, and vanilla essence at medium speed until fluffy for about 8 minutes. Add in the cake flour, mix spice and salt. Mix again until well combined. Set aside.
- Next, make batter C. In another mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar at high speed until a thick mixture is formed.
- Now, we will need to combine all the different batters together. First, add batter B into batter A, Mix until well combined. Then using a spatula, fold in 1/3 of batter C into batter A/B combo until well mixed, then fold in the rest of batter C until well mixed.
- For the first layer, spread a small amount of batter, about 1/8 inch or 130gm, on the prepared pan. Bake it at the top rack of the pre-heated oven until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Rotate the cake pan halfway to obtain even browning.
- Take the cake pan out from the oven and use a toothpick to poke holes all over the cake. This helps to prevent the layers onwards from bubbling while baking and ensure smooth and even layers are formed. Repeat the poking process for every layer.
- For the second layer onwards, spread the batter evenly, about 1/8 inch or 130g of batter. The batter will look more melted and runnier once placed into the pan as it is still warm.
- Bang the pan on the countertop to remove air bubbles. Bake until golden brown. Once a layer is cooked and looks golden brown, add in another layer, and repeat the process til all the batter is finished.
- Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes. Then gently work a sharp knife around the edges to loosen the cake.
- Gently turn the cake out onto a wiring rack, and cool the cake completely. The cake is best eaten after 3 days as the cake will be more flavourful then.
Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice!
Do you like this spiced layer cake recipe? While it takes a lot of patience to make it from scratch, it is well worth it. A small bite of this rich cake goes a long way. The cake is both decadent and light at the same time!
If you love more feel good recipes such as this one, check out some of my recipes that I have shared on Butterkicap. If you have any questions, don’t be shy to ask them via my Instagram account @justinescakesandkueh or at @butterkicap.