Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Chocolate Vanilla Kek Lapis / Lapis Legit / Spekkoek/ Indonesian Layer Cake

Just before I came to live in Australia, I began to discover the art of baking by baking kek lapis for my family during Chinese New Year. On the weekend just before the celebration, I can bake at least four kek lapis to giveaway and each cake will take at least three hours of standing in front of my little hot oven.

At that time, I was using a little non-branded oven that I bought from Cold Storage and remember that I paid SG$50 for it and had to carry it home in a bus ride.

Maybe it was the adrenaline that was rushing in me or maybe I was simply juvenile or naive... Despite my limited baking experience, I told myself that I can bake my kek lapis. Geez! Surprisingly, after 3-4 times of trial baking, I made it!!! And, I was loving baking kek lapis!

After living in Australia for more than a decade, I have finally baked my first kek lapis in Melbourne! Ironic, isn't it???

Why? According to Wikipedia, kek lapis which is also known as spekkoek and lapis legit is layered cake developed during colonial times in the Dutch East Indies. Typically, kek lapis is very rich and a 20 cm (8 inch) square cake can contain up to thirty egg yolks, half a kilogram (1 pound) of butter, 2 cups (400g) of white sugar plus generous amount of condensed milk. The cake can be made with many variations and most contain spekkoek powder (a cinnamon spice mixture) or a mix of spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, clove and star anise. Some variations includes almonds, cashew nuts, dried fruits like prunes or dried cranberries and some are flavoured with chocolate or pandan.

Why am I baking kek lapis for Chinese New Year? In Indonesia, lapis legit literally means delicious layers. A good kek lapis has to be made of many thin layers of cake. Call me an old school person but I can be really picky with the thickness of my lapis... Every layer has to be 0.5 cm or less and every layer has to be nicely brown! As you can see now, baking a good kek lapis can be very labour intensive! Considering the massive amount of rich ingredients, time and effort required to bake this cake, kek lapis can be rather an expensive and exclusive delicacy and this is why the South East Asians love to serve and enjoy kek lapis during our festive seasons.

Now back to the question, why is this cake my first kek lapis that I had baked in Melbourne? Being a health freak, I have been resist to bake cake that contains too much butter, egg yolks and sugar for my little family of three.

Well, you know... Once a health freak, I can always be a health freak... Besides being a health freak now, I was a semi-health freak even during the later time that I was living in Singapore. Unlike the kek lapis recipes at here, here, here, here and many more, I had tried to defy the fat and sugar factor of most typical kek lapis and was baking my favourite 20 cm (8 inch) square kek lapis with lesser butter (325g), egg yolks (12) and sugar (1 cup, 200g) and now, I found another recipe that is also pretty good and has chocolate!

This 12-layers chocolate kek lapis recipe from Honey Bee Sweets contains 250g butter, 14 egg yolks, 260g sugar in total. This amount of butter is slightly lesser than my favourite recipe but is compromised with 2 additional egg yolks. I have baked this cake with a reduced amount of 200g sugar and the sweetness of this cake is still just right for me!

With less amount of butter and yolks, I'm not expecting this cake to super rich like most of the store bought kek lapis but I can assure you that this kek lapis is not greasy and also not dry! To ensure that the cake is moist, do not eat the cake immediately after baking it. Place the cake in an airtight container and allow it to rest in room temperature for at least a day and you will see the difference!

For the fact that this is the first kek lapis that I have baked in Melbourne, I'm glad that it was successful bake without me going through any trial and error. However, it is not entirely perfect!!! Do you know why?

Update on 5 Jan 2021: Please click HERE for my BEST super moist Kek Lapis recipe. This recipe is good but my recent one is the BEST ^-^

chocolate kek lapis lapis legit spekkoek Indonesian layer cake
Chocolate vanilla kek lapis
Like most typical kek lapis, this cake contains lots of butter and eggs! 
I love my lapis with milky taste and wouldn't omit these 2 lovely ingredients.
To bake this cake, I have to separate 14 eggs!!!
Lucky that I have this wonderful gadget from Tovolo (Australia).
See how I use Tovolo yolk out to separate egg yolk from the white.
Here we go...
I have to separate all these eggs to bake kek lapis.
No worries about leftover egg whites, my son will eat them!!! :D
Doing this reminds me of those days that I was using my $10 hand held mixer to beat my batter :)
Yay! My yolk mixture is done and so I set it aside.
Next, I beat the egg whites until stiff peaks.
... Now, I have half as the vanilla batter and another as the chocolate batter.
To ensure that the layers are even, I weigh each layer of batter before baking them.
Call me old school... I like all my vanilla (plain) cake layers to be nicely browned!
I'm not so picky with the chocolate layers as they are naturally brown anyway!!! - LOL!
Can you imagine that I took a total of 2 hours just to bake these 12 layers?
For a final browning of its top and base, I suggest that you have to do this...
Is it perfect? I was like NOOOO!!! when I saw this!!!
The top film of the cake got stuck onto the baking paper that I used to flip the cake!!!

... and peeled off from the cake subsequently!!!
Am I sad? A little... but after trimming the sides of the cake and seeing these layers, I was feeling ok.
Although I can be a perfectionist, I was feeling good after enjoying these lovely cakes!

Update on 5 Jan 2021: Please click HERE for my BEST super moist Kek Lapis recipe. This recipe is good but my recent one is the BEST ^-^

Here's the recipe that is mostly adapted from Honey Bee Sweets

Makes makes one 17-20 cm (7-8 inch) square cake
(mine is 17 cm square)

250g unsalted butter, room temperature
130g caster sugar (can be reduced to 70g)
14 egg yolks (from medium eggs, 60g each)
4 tbsp condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla paste

130g caster sugar
7 egg white (from medium eggs, 60g each)

150g cake flour
40g Horlick
1 tsp baking powder

25g cocoa powder, preferably Dutch processed cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
3 1/2 tbsp (50ml) hot water

Preheat the oven to 180°C (No fan forced) at grill mode. Line the bottom of a square pan with baking paper. Note: I lost the top film of my cake when I flipped it onto a baking paper. In the future, I will line the bottom of the pan with just one long strip of baking paper that over-hanging two sides of the pan and this will help me to remove the cake easier! Do not use too many pieces of baking paper to line the pan. The multiple layers of paper might form gaps in between layers of paper resulting for the first layer of batter to flow through and causes the bottom layer of cake to be too thin or even burnt.

For ingredients A:
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beat well to combine after each addition. Then, beat in condensed milk and vanilla until well combined.

For ingredients B:
Using another electric mixer or a cleaned electric mixer (absolutely clean with no grease or water), beat egg whites until foamy in a large mixing bowl. While continuing to beat, add sugar gradually in batches and beat until stiff peaks form.

For ingredients C:
Combine all ingredients C and sift into the yolk mixture. Fold into the mixture until combined.

Fold in a third of the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Repeat with the rest of the mixtures until all are well combined. Be sure not to deflate the egg white.

For ingredients D:
Combine all ingredients D to form a paste.

Divide the batter into half by weight. Fold in the chocolate mixture into one portion of the batter and leave the other one as the vanilla batter.

To bake the first layer, weigh out 120g vanilla batter. The first layer has to be slightly thicker than others as it requires extra batter to brown well on its bottom. Spread the batter on the lined pan and place baking tray on the top rack of the preheated oven and bake it for 10 mins or until nicely browned. 

To bake the second or subsequent chocolate layers, weigh out 80g chocolate batter. For thinner and uniform layers, you can press the cake gently when the before layer is done and spread the chocolate batter on it. For me, I prefer not to press the cake at this stage just in case I will disturb or destroy the beautiful browning layer of the cake. I will spread the next batch of batter on the unpressed layer and continue the baking. Bake at it for 7 mins on the top rack of the oven (with grill mode) or until firm. Do not over bake this layer as the chocolate ones tend to be drier than the non-chocolate ones. 

To bake the subsequent vanilla layers, weigh out 80g vanilla batter. Press the cake gently when the before layer is done and spread the vanilla batter on it. For me and like what I did for the previous layer, I prefer not to press the cake and spread the next batch of batter on the unpressed layer and continue the baking. Bake it for 9 mins on the top rack of the oven (with grill mode) or until nicely browned.

Repeat spreading and baking the chocolate and vanilla layers until the batter are completely used. 

For the last layer (the 12th and also the chocolate one), bake it for 5 mins on the top rack of the oven (with grill mode) or until slightly firm. Move the cake to the middle rack and switch the oven to 160°C fan forced or 180°C with top and bottom heat and bake for another 5 mins or until the top layer is firm and cooked.

Remove cake from the oven. Set aside for 10 mins to cool slightly. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow it to cool completely. Note: Cake can be crumbly when it is freshly baked. For a moister texture, place the cake in airtight container and allow it the rest for a day at room temperature.

To serve, trim off the sides and cut it into slices.

Happy Baking
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  1. I love love love layered cakes and I know they are very tedious to make.. Imagine layer by layer.. I love the original one that taste like spice but your Horlick and chocolate layered cake looks better and more delicious! I could finish the whole loaf rightaway!

  2. The egg separator is so cute! And omg I love Horlicks! :D

  3. This cake is stunning, I love how perfectly you have made each layer! They look exactly the same :D
    I am excited for Chinese New Year, hope the year of the Ram is excellent for you!

    Choc Chip Uru

  4. i wannnnnn!!! i wannnn both the lapis and your kitchen gadgets!! both are too irresistible ahhhh

  5. Oh my word Zoe! That is one amazing cake. I can't even imagine the amount of time and labor that went into baking it not to mention those ingredients!

    That yolk separator thing is such a hoot! I usually use my hands. That's how my grandson taught me to do it, lol...Did your little boy help you bake this incredible cake? I bet it tastes heavenly! You sure do have a lot of patience:) I know I would have given up after the first layers. (I would have had to get to the chocolate layer at least:)

    Thank you so much for sharing, Zoe. You did fantabulous!!!

  6. Wow! this looks amazing! Love the styling...love to have it now!

  7. They look perfect to me! With so much work, they are certainly a labor of love. A special cake for a special occasion! :)

  8. It looks pretty gorgeous to me, Zoe .. *clap-clap*

  9. Hi Zoe,
    Wow! Your lapis cake look so neatly layered. 'Sui'
    I must have lapis cake for CNY every year. Gonna try this too!

  10. Hi Zoe, coincidentally I made a chocolate layer cake yesterday too, but mine was steaming version.
    Your layer cake looks perfect!!!!

  11. This layered cakes has been on list to try. Always backout seeing the butter nd yolk qty used to make it. Layers look so even. Looks yum

  12. Wow.....gorgeous layered cake......Love it.... :)

  13. Zoe, you are amazing! I can't bring myself to bake this cake because if I mess up, it is an expensive mistake! I love your kek lapis as it is perfect (even though the top peeled off a bit) and I can only imagine what it tastes like sigh.....

  14. You managed to layer it so perfectly! Looks really good! ;)

  15. Hi Zoe! Your kek lapis looks awesome! I don't think I have the patience to do this layer by layer! And the incredible amount of eggs needed, LOL I'm always complaining to my husband how baking uses up all the eggs in my fridge and I hardly have any left for cooking!

  16. Zoe, its great. Beautiful job....thumbs up to the beautiful cake, very even layers and neat too. I am sure its very tasty too.

  17. Hi Zoe,
    Your cake lapis is perfectly made! And that gadget for removing the egg yolk, I have tried it using empty mineral bottle before and it works! Seen a video about it somewhere. Of course I can see that the Tovolo yolk separater looks really cool!
    Good luck to all the participants for the giveaway!

  18. OMG, this is soooo gorgeous! I swear! Zoe if you had a business in singapore doing bakery like this unusual lapis you'd make sooo much money and have so many customers! I've never tried baking this before, I'm not one whose good with detailed, delicate things that need patience! I swear this must taste soo good and I love how your beautiful pieces are all made at home!

  19. I have been thinking about kueh lapis and I think you read my thoughts. Bookmarking this healthier version. Let's hope my energy level will maintain after my spring cleaning to bake this. BTW, I so love your egg separator gadget. Let's hope they will sell it in singapore! definitely a breeze to use that for many eggs!

  20. Oh wow, that egg yolk tool certainly caught my attention, Zoe! I'm a fan of lapis; learnt to bake it just recently but I found a lot of work to bake layers after layers. Maybe that's why I'm not a baker. Hahaha!

  21. I am just amazed at that cake... it just looks wow! For all that work, I would really never try! Just looks amazing...

  22. I remembered watching this travel show 2 years ago and making kek lapis was featured in one segment :D Before that I often wonder why how one can do so much layers in one cake ! Your kek lapis look awesome and beautifully-baked !

  23. Wow! Horlick... Sold! Chocolate... Sold and double sold! Please excuse me while I chomp on my screen. :P

  24. I am lau-nuaing. I love lapis but I am too lazy to bake them!!

  25. What a fun cake! Looks great, and I'll bet it tastes better. Terrific job with this -- thanks.

  26. Wow what a beautiful Kek Lapis and with awesome flavour too! Looks perfect to me. I agree it is a laborious task of making this cake, layer by layer. So far I've only made this twice.

  27. Like Diana, I'm also lau-nuaing ... I can't bake this so I continue drooling :(
    I've seen my late mom baked kueh lapis a few times when I was young. That very old type of electric round oven with top cover. Think it's much easier to just remove the cover and pour the batter and bake. Those layers were so thinly spread and perfect. Ya, I missed homemade lapis.

  28. Yolk porn there..hahah. Zoe, the kek lapis is so perfectly layered. Good job there. I can just sit and drool your cake now.

  29. What a beautiful cake! I dont think I'll be able to make one like this ever. Great job Zoe. :)

  30. Wow! I am just amazed to see your kek lapis. Each layer is beautifully arranged. I just don’t think I will have the patience to resist myself from chomping on it while baking it. I just love cakes and my favourite ones are the handmade chocolate truffles from Franco Freshy at Toronto. A bite of these could indulge me for minutes. I wish I could bake this kek lapis with patience. I really do appreciate your patience.