Chinese New Year is fast approaching and my parents and little brother are coming to the States all the way from Indonesia to celebrate the new year with me! I am going to be on full gear, preparing many Chinese New Year goodies to share with my family. The first thing on my long list of food to make is of course lapis legit (thousand layers cake). Lapis legit is probably not going to be on your to-do-list for Chinese New Year if you do not grow up in Indonesia, Malaysia, or Singapore. But since I did grow up in Indonesia, this gorgeous cake is a must have along with nastar (pineapple cake).
A bit of history lesson. This cake is actually a hybrid Indonesian and Dutch cake, a legacy from the Dutch colonial era but is still widely enjoyed to this day. The Dutch call this cake spekkoek, which translates to spice cake, and indeed spices are used in the making of this cake. I usually buy ready make spekkoek seasoning, but you can also make them yourself from equal amount of cinnamon powder, mace powder, and nutmeg powder. The cake itself is very rich and indulgent, made of mostly eggs, butter, sugar, and not much of flour. This is a very high calorie count cake, but we usually serve this in a teeny tiny portion, so a little goes a long way. Most people buy or make an 8″ square cake, and easily divide one cake into 40 portions!
Aside from Chinese New Year, lapis legit in general is regarded as a celebration cake in Indonesia, so every Idul Fitri, Christmas, and New Year, bakeries will be selling them like hot cakes (which they are right?). The price a bakery charged for this cake is through the roof. Last I check, an 8″ square cake easily sells for $50-$60, and that is in Indonesia where food in general is pretty cheap. And even at such astronomical price, it is still best to pre-order or risk running out. So much ouch right? If you like this cake, the best way to enjoy one is master making it, so much cheaper and you can still make it at home even when you are not in Indonesia, like me 🙂
Similar to last Chinese New Year, I am collaborating with other super talented food bloggers to bring you a collection of cookies and sweet treats recipes to celebrate Chinese New Year. Go all out and make your very own treats to serve your family and guests with our recipes 🙂
- snow fungus soup – Christine Leong from Vermillion Roots
- bingka ambon (Indonesian honey comb cake) – Marvellina Goh from What To Cook Today
- Chinese peanut cookies – Charmaine Ferrara from Wok & Skillet
- Vietnamese steamed rice cake – Amy Nguyen from A Taste of Joy and Love
- gluten-free Chinese almond cookies – Ann Kaufman from Grits & Chopsticks
- black sesame shortbread cookies – Lily Ernst from Little Sweet Baker
- ice cream mooncakes – Linda Kurniadi from Brunch-n-Bites
- coconut red bean pudding – Lokness from The Missing Lokness
- Korean caramelized sweet potatoes (goguma mattang) – Jean Choi from What Great Grandma Ate
- cashew nut cookies – Ann Low from Anncoo Journal
- one bite pine nut cookies – Betty Hung from Yummy Workshop
- baked coconut walnut sticky rice cake – Jeanette Chen from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
- black sesame cream puffs – Gina G from Pink Wings
- cashew nut cookies – Linda Ooi from Roti n Rice
- mini peanut puffs (kok chai) – Linda Ooi from Malaysian Chinese Kitchen
- nastar (pineapple cookies) – Anita (yours truly) from V for Veggy
- almond orange spiral cookies – Lindsey Tom from Butter & Type
- che ba mau (three color dessert) – Lisa Le from The Viet Vegan
- year of the rooster mochi – Bonnie Eng from Thirsty for Tea
- dasik (Korean tea cookies) – Jin Joo Lee from Kimchimari
- sweet sticky cakes (kuih bakul) – Lisa Ho from Lisa’s Lemony Kitchen
- tang yuan (sweet rice balls with peanut butter) – Maggie Zhu from Omnivore’s Cookbook
- mut gung (candied ginger) – Ann Mai from Plant Crush
- chick egg tarts – Anita Chu from Dessert First
- red bean soup – Sharon Wong from Nut Free Wok
- orange scented sweet red bean – Soe Thein from Lime and Cilantro
- 300 gram butter
- 120 gram sweet condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon rum
- 90 gram cake flour
- ½ teaspoon spekkoek seasoning (*)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 egg yolks
- 85 gram sugar
- 6 egg whites
- 55 gram sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 200 Celcius (400 Fahrenheit). Line a 9" round cake pan with parchment paper. Set aside. (**)
- First, make batter A. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sweet condensed milk, and rum at medium speed until fluffy, about 8 minutes. Add in cake flour, spekkoek seasoning, and salt. Mix again until well combined. Set aside.
- Next, make batter B. In another mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar at high speed until thick.
- Next, make batter C. In another mixing bowl (stainless steel is best for this), whisk egg whites until foamy, then add cream of tartar, and sugar in 3 batches. Continue whisking until stiff peak.
- Now we will need to combine all the different batter together. First, add batter B into batter A, mix until well combined. Then using a spatula, fold in ⅓ 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 ⅛ inch, on the prepared pan. Bake in the center rack of preheated oven until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
- For the second layer onward, turn off the oven, but switch on the oven broiler, position the rack near the top closer to the heating element. Spread batter evenly (about ⅛ inch), the batter will look more melted and runnier once placed into the pan, and bang the pan on countertop to remove air bubbles. Broil for 1-2 minutes until golden brown, you will need to stand watch and be extra careful from here on out. Each broiler heats differently, and yours may need less or more time, but be extra diligent in the first few layers so you don't accidentally end up with burnt cake. Once a layer is cooked and looks golden brown, add another layer, bang it a bit on countertop, and broil again. Continue doing this until the batter is all used up.
- 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.
(**) You can also use an 8" square cake pan.