47. A Thousand Layer Cake – Indonesian Spekkoek Spice Cake

Indonesian Thousand Layer Cake

Indonesian Thousand Layer Cake

I’ve had my eye on this gorgeous Indonesian Thousand Layer Cake (Spekkoek) for quite some time. With it’s perfectly symmetrical stripes of spice interwoven with ribbons of vanilla. Spekkoek or lapis legit is a rich layered cake and is very expensive to buy due to the amount of time it takes to create it, so it’s normally eaten at special occasions and celebrations such as Christmas, weddings or festivals in Indonesian.

Layers and layers and layers

Layers and layers and layers

It requires a bit of planning and preparation and a lot of hitting the pause button if you choose to watch a film whilst trying to bake it, as each layer is baked individually for 11 minutes precisely. But it’s well worth the effort.

Most recipes for a Thousand Layer cake ask for up to 30 eggs! I thought this was a bit extreme and not the most healthy of cakes so scaled it back to a mere 10 eggs. Much more affordable too. It’s definitely a special cake lavished with lots of love and attention it had to taste wonderful.

If you’re going to attempt this cake I recommend

  • You own an electric whisk – this would be quite an ordeal to whisk by hand!
  • You have at least 2 large bowls to whisk the eggs in
  • You add lots of spice!
Beat the egg yolks and 100g sugar together

Beat the egg yolks and 100g sugar together

I’m lucky that I own a Kitchenaid and it could take the strain of whisking the egg whites for me whilst I busied myself whisking the yolks. But you could do it in 3 separate stages if you like. You don’t have to multi task to the extreme if you don’t want to. Me, I enjoy adding a bit of danger to my bakes. Doing everything at once. I’ll balance my bowls on top of many ingredients on the work surfaces and hope for the best, like spinning plates, but in my case it’s batter.

Whilst whisking the egg whites with about 100g of the sugar with a hand held electric whisk I set the Kitchenaid away to whisk the egg whites until fluffy.

Whisking the egg whites until they start to stiffen

Whisking the egg whites until they start to stiffen

Once the whites start to stiffen add 100g of sugar (bit by bit) and continue to whisk until they reach stiff peaks and look glossy.

Beat together the butter, vanilla and sugar

Beat together the butter, vanilla and sugar

Then as if you’re not busy enough, beat together the remaining sugar, with the butter and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.

Mix together the butter and egg yolk mixtures in one large bowl

Mix together the butter and egg yolk mixtures in one large bowl

You’re going to need the biggest bowl that you own to incorporate all of the ingredients together. Start with mixing the egg yolk batter and the butter/sugar paste together.

All together now - butter, sugar, and egg yolks batter

Butter, sugar, and egg yolks batter all together

Once all of the ingredients are mixed well (I used my electric hand whisk) the delicate process of folding in the egg whites to the batter can begin. Using a metal spoon fold in gently the egg whites to preserve the air in the batter.

There's a lot of egg whites to fold in!

There’s a lot of egg whites to fold in!

It will start to look like scrambled eggs but persevere until the batter looks smooth.

Yum scrambled eggs!

Yum scrambled eggs! Keep going with the folding

Next up is the relatively small amount of plain flour considering how much egg and butter is in this cake! It also needs to be folded in carefully to the batter with a metal spoon.

Fold in the flour

Fold in the flour

To achieve the two tone and two flavour effect half of the batter needs to be flavoured with spices and the other half left to be as it is, with a hint of vanilla.

Fold in a vast quantity of spice

Fold in a vast quantity of spice to half the batter

Split the batter in half (you’re going to need yet another bowl here!) and fold the spices into half of the batter.

Leave the other half of the batter as it is in a separate bowl

Vanilla batter – Leave the other half of the batter as it is in a separate bowl

The spiced batter should look slightly browner in colour. this will help you to remember which layer you’re up to when it comes to cooking the cake!

Spiced batter

Spiced batter

With your two bowls of batter ready, it’s time to spoon a thin layer (about 5mm) into greased and lined baking tin. I used my new extra long German loaf tin 30cm x 10cm. Make sure you push the batter into all of the corners and smooth it down. Give it a very gentle tap on the worksurface to remove any air bubbles and pop it in the oven for 11 minutes. Some recipes say to follow this bake with a minute under the grill, however my oven doesn’t have a separate grill and oven.  The grill would have to be warmed up each time which to me seemed a bit too laborious. Instead I added an extra minute to the baking time to compensate for the lack of grilling and it worked a treat.

The first layer in the extra long loaf tin

The first vanilla batter layer in the extra long loaf tin

It’s a bit tricky to get the first layer into all of the corners as the batter is quite stiff. I wiped the inside edges of the tin round with a clean finger to remove any extra batter to avoid any smudging of the layers later on. The last thing you want is a smear of burnt batter up the sides your beautiful layer cake.

The first baked layer in the extra long loaf tin

The first baked layer in the extra long loaf tin

After 11 minutes in the oven the first layer should be slightly golden brown and evenly baked. Ready for the addition of the next layer straight on top of the hot cake. The heat from the first layer helps to melt the butter and spread the batter evenly around the tin. Remember to alternate your batters! One layer vanilla, one layer spice and repeat.

Raw spiced batter straight on top of the cooked cake below

Raw spiced batter straight on top of the cooked cake below

As your cake bakes it will probably shrink back from the sides of the tin a little, so don’t be alarmed if some of the raw batter disappears down the sides of the cake and into the layer below. A liberal dusting of icing sugar hides all manner of mishaps to a finished cake!

The second spiced layer

The second spiced layer, smooth and ready for the oven

Keep alternating the batters. Repeating the layering, spreading, baking and even more layering until you’ve no more batter left. This process is not for the time restricted or feint hearted. Baking the cake took at least 4 hours, but it’s almost like a work out, leaping up off the sofa to take the cake out of the oven every 11 minutes.

I grilled the final layer a bit for extra authenticity... It looks a bit burnt but tasted good!

I grilled the final layer a bit for extra authenticity… It looks a bit burnt but tasted good!

Let the cake cool in the tin for about 2o minutes before gently loosening the cake from the tin with a palette knife and attempting to remove it from the tin. I grilled the final layer a bit for extra authenticity… It looks a bit burnt but tasted good!

The final long layered cake out of it's tin

The final long layered cake out of it’s tin

I must admit I was a tad alarmed at how dark the cake was when I removed it from the tin. I did wonder how the initial layers would hold up after being baked time and time again. Would they be burnt and tough? I baked at least 18 layers into my cake, that’s a whole lot of oven time for the first few cms of the cake.

Indonesian Layer Cake

Indonesian Layer Cake

The liquid batter did seep under the greaseproof paper inside the tin. The cake had baked around the paper which made it a his made it a bit difficult remove, but not impossible. However this meant the top was a little uneven, so I trimmed it slightly and dusted it with icing sugar! (shh no one will know!)

Trimmed and dusted to reveal the lovely layers inside

Trimmed and dusted to reveal the lovely layers inside

The white icing sugar gave the layers an extra lift against the contrasting spice. I baked my Indonesian Thousand  Layer Cake for a special Clandestine Cake Club ‘Here comes the sun’ themed event. I was hurrying along to the cakey gathering but just had enough time to slice up some homemade candied orange and lemon citrus peel (Thank you Sharyn at The Kale Chronicles for the how to!) in long thin strips to create my very own sunburst effect, adding a trio of star anise (one of the key spices in the cake) to bring the summery spicey cake to life. As Mary Berry always says, you should include a bit of what’s inside the cake, outside the cake to whet people’s appetites.

Here comes the sun - Indonesian Layer Cake

Here comes the sun – Indonesian Layer Cake

As the tin that I used is supposed to be for bread, I don’t own a cake stand or plate big enough to house such a lengthy cake. I resorted to carrying the cake ,open topped on a chopping board instead. Note to self, icing sugar sitting on a cake will not stay there for long on a windy day. Precariously seated on my passenger seat and me also liberally coated in icing sugar we made our way to the Clandestine Cake Club!

Indonesian Thousand Layer Cake

Indonesian Thousand Layer Cake

I’m so pleased I took the time to attempt the Indonesian Thousand Layer Cake cake although technically not exactly 1000 layers it feels close enough! A challenge of the patience and my washing up ability it may be but this cake promises so much more than a frustrating time in the kitchen. It is such an unusual tasting cake, quite delicate and surprisingly light, I guess due to the sparse amount of flour and the endless whisking.

Layers and layers and layers

Layers and layers and layers

This cake is magic. There must be something in the enormous amounts of eggs that go into the batter that prevent the layers from burning or drying up to a miserable shrivelled mess. It’s moist, spicy and sweet, although not too sweet. It’s a proper grown up cake, sophisticated in it’s beautiful layers and exotic taste. It also improves with age. I had half a piece left from the Cake Club which I shared with Chris 4 days after baking it and it was delicious not dry in the slightest. I think spice cake always deepens in flavour with time. If you want to savour the cake you can even peel each individual layer and eat them separately. I enjoyed devouring it with a strong coffee. I will be baking this again when I have an afternoon to spare and maybe attempting more stripey cakes in the future. I think I’m hooked!

Things I used to make my Indonesian Layer Cake

  • 375g sugar (100g added to egg whites, 100g added to egg yolks, and 175g added to butter mixture)
  • 10 egg whites
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cassia bark
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground star anise
  • 1/4 of a grated fresh nutmeg
  • 250g butter
  • 185g plain flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In separate bowl – Whisk egg whites til fluffy add 100g sugar gradually. Whisk til shiny and stiff
  2. In separate bowl – Cream 175g sugar and the butter together til light and fluffy
  3. In separate bowl – Whisk egg yolks and 100g sugar together til fluffy
  4. In a big bowl – Whisk egg mixture and butter mixture together
  5. Fold in egg whites
  6. Fold in flour
  7. Split the batter in half
  8. Fold the spices into one half of the batter
  9. Pour a thin 5mm layer of vanilla batter into tin
  10. Bake for 11 minutes at 160 degrees C.
  11. Pour a thin layer of spiced batter onto cooked layer
  12. Bake
  13. Repeat alternating the batters until all the batter is cooked.
  14. Cool, remove from tin, decorate and eat!
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38. South Korean Sweet Potato Cake with Creamy Coconut Custard Frosting

This recipe was inspired by what I had left in my fridge. One lonely sweet potato. Upon returning from holiday to Amsterdam I needed a quick and exotic bake for my sister’s birthday. I wasn’t entirely sure that everyone would enjoy a South Korean sweet potato cake but hey, this is what you get when your little sister sets up an international baking blog challenge!

This was actually quite quick to make, the most time being spent peeling and dicing the sweet potato so it could be boiled and mashed into a gloriously orange mush.

Mushed Sweet Potato

I love sweet potatoes and have been eating them a LOT in my preparation for the Great North Run which is (gulp!!) next Sunday!! They promise many vitamins (A, C and B6), antioxidants AND they have anti inflammatory properties! Perfect for soothing those aching joints and muscles post running! ..So this cake is (almost) practically healthy!

Creamy butter and sugar

I started by creaming the butter and two types of sugar together with my handheld electric whisk for about 5 minutes until it became lighter and fluffy.

Then add one egg at a time and vanilla and keep on whisking

Then add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time,vanilla and keep on whisking until they’re incorporated completely. It take about 5 minutes to whisk the mixture up until it’s very light and fluffy.

Lots of fluffy eggs, sugar and butter

Then onto the dry stuff. In a separate bowl I mixed together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Dry stuff, flour, baking powder and salt

Then to stir in the milk to the sweet potato along with the syrup (as I don’t keep maple syrup in my cupboard I substituted it for golden syrup 🙂

IN with the syrup!

Stir it all together until it’s a milky sweet potato soup

Sweet potato soup

Then to gently fold in a third of the flour to the fluffy eggs and butter mixture

Folding in the flour

And then fold in a third of the sweet potato soup

Folding in the sweet potato soup

And alternate folding in a third of the flour and a third of the soup until all the ingredients are incorporated creating an orange flecked liquid batter.

All in!

The original recipe was to make two 9 inch round cakes. But I wanted one big cake and I love my lazy cake pan (PushPan) and use it at every opportunity I get! It really speeds up the process as it’s really non stick and leak proof! AND my favourite bit! No lining required! No wasted paper and effort. Just a quick spritz with cake release et voila! One quick cake! I wish I could afford more of them.

Just baked. Look at that deep brown!

I used one 9 inch tin to cake all of the batter in a 180 degrees C (or 350 degree F)  oven for 40 to 50 minutes. Until it’s baked evenly, with a golden top. This cake shrank back beautifully from the sides of the tin too to tell me it was ready for eating. I made sure it was done by sticking a cocktail stick in it and it came out clean on my check.

I always leave a cake to cool in it’s pan for at least 15 minutes before turning it out to cool fully on the wire rack. I learnt this the hard way as I once took my Christmas cake out of the tin straight away and it fell into 3 massive chunks in my hands. I did shed a tear at this after waiting patiently for it by the oven for 5 hours. They definitely need a bit of cooling to hold their shape! (Luckily I managed to stick my cake back together with jam and a bit of marzipan to cover the cracks and no one knew the difference!)

Tester sweet potato cupcakes

I was worried that this cake might be a bit odd on our English palettes so I made some tester cupcakes alongside my large cake. I needn’t have worried! It was delicious! I has only meant to try the corner of one cupcake and 2 minutes later the whole thing has disappeared into my tummy. It’s quite a sweet and slightly savoury sponge. A bit like carrot cake but without the grated carrot texture. It’s also a lot more moist than carrot cake.

You could stop here as the recipe didn’t give any sort of filing or frosting and the cake is sweet enough to eat as a sponge in it’s own right. HOWEVER if like me you want to take things a step further I found an amazing recipe for Creamy Coconut Custard Frosting, which is very reminiscent of rice pudding with a whole can of evapourated milk but with dessicated coconut instead of rice. Delicious! And what I love even more about this recipe is it takes 15 minutes with no trace of icing sugar to be swept up from every corner of your kitchen afterwards! This is a great alternative to buttercream which my family aren’t a huge fan of.

Throw into a pan egg yolks,  evapourated milk, sugar and vanilla

Choosing my heaviest sauce pan I added the sugar, egg yolks and milk to it along with the vanilla and stirred it all together

Continue to stir over a medium heat for 12 minutes until it thickens

Once it reaches the ‘pudding’ stage (it’s as thick as pudding) take the pan off the heat, throw in the dessicated coconut and Bob’s your uncle you’ve made coconut custard!

Then it needs to be cooled completely before spreading it over your cake.

Creamy Coconut Custard Frosting

As Mary Berry ‘s sage advice is to include a little of what’s in your cake on your cake so I lovingly adorned the cake with slices of coconut too.

South Korean Sweet Potato Cake and Coconut Custard Frosting

I was very pleasantly surprised by this cake and the combination of coconut custard. This was my very first ever attempt at making custard too and given the opportunity (and a spoon) I could merrily eat the whole pan of it by itself. That would definitely warm you up on a winter’s night! It was so sweet and comforting. You probably couldn’t eat more than one slice as it is quite a dense cake but I’m always up for a challenge. Now I’m thinking about it again I wish I had another huge chunk to tuck into! I’m happy to report that my sister enjoyed it too!

Sweet Potato Cake and Coconut frosting a sideways glance

Things I used to make South Korean Sweet Potato Cake

  • 1 cup of soft butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cubed, boiled, and mashed
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (golden syrup)

15 min  Creamy Coconut Custard Frosting

Things I used to make Creamy Coconut Custard Frosting

  • 1 (13-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut