This is a somewhat non-traditional recipe for Indonesian Kek Lapis or layer cake, – this recipe calls for 7 whole eggs, rather than the typical 15, or even 20 egg yolks. For the uninitiated, kek lapis is a very rich (read caloric) cake, with high proportion of butter and egg yolk, and is only served as small slices during festivities (e.g. Chinese New Year and Hari Raya) in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
The recipe is easy, – the tediousness lies in making the layers, which have to be grilled a layer at a time. If this wasn’t challenging enough, these days, making kek lapis has become a bit of an art (especially in Sarawak), with various patterns, flavours and colours. There is no substitute for the pretty millefuille effect of the many layers, the fragrance and taste of all that butter, egg, spice and brandy.
The recipe comes from an old Betty Yew (Malaysian culinary expert, and prolific cookbook author) cookbook, which I scribbled down in a notebook many, many years ago.
Time: 1 ½ – 2 hours (depending on number of layers)
7 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
120g butter, softened (soften in microwave if required)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp brandy
90g plain flour
¼ tsp mixed spice
7 egg whites
Square baking tin is preferable
Turn the oven to grill at 175°C. Place the rack in the higher position in the oven. Line a baking tin with baking paper and grease sides with butter. Beat egg yolks with sugar and vanilla essence until light and creamy. Add in the softened butter and brandy, and whisk until well combined, ensuring there are no lumps.
Sieve flour and mixed spice together and fold into the egg yolk mixture.
Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into the batter.
Heat the empty baking tin in the oven for 1 minutes. Place a ladle of batter into the baking tin, swirl to ensure the batter is evenly spread, and grill for 5-7 minutes until the top is brown. As all ovens are different, it pays to monitor the cake carefully when you are grilling the first layer to gauge how long it take for the layer to brown. Then you can set your timer accurately for subsequent layers.
Continue grilling the cake, ladle by ladle. You should get between 10 – 12 layers. Remove from tin, and cool on a wire rack. Cut into small slices to serve.