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Lapis Legit - Thousand Layers Cake

Lapis legit/spekkoek/Indonesian thousand layers cake is a must for special celebrations such as Chinese New Year, Christmas, or Eid. Traditional recipes use 40 egg yolks, but this recipe with 12 eggs still yields a very rich and very tender cake, and full of aroma of spekkoek seasoning.

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 tart).

Lapis Legit straight out of oven with the edges loosened.

Spekkoek seasoning

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 bacon cake, because all the layers look like bacon! But, there is no bacon involved, only spices. :) 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.

Lapis Legit, cutting it into several long blocks.

Bake in a square 8-inch pan, or a round 9-inch pan

The cake itself is very rich and indulgent, made of mostly eggs, butter, sugar, and not much of flour. You can use either an 8” square pan or a 9” round pan for this recipe. Since this is a very high calorie count cake, we usually serve this in a teeny tiny portion, so a little goes a long way. It is not uncommon to divide an 8” square 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 :)

Lapis Legit, further cut each of the long block into tiny portions.

Chinese New Year cookies and sweet treats

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 :)

Lapis Legit - Thousand Layers Cake

4.7 from 10 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Total Time: 2 hours

Serves: 40


  • Batter A
  • 300 gram unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 120 gram sweet condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 90 gram cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon spekkoek seasoning (*)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Batter B
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 85 gram sugar
  • Batter C
  • 6 egg whites
  • 55 gram sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


  1. Preheat oven to 200 Celcius (400 Fahrenheit). Line a 9" round cake pan or an 8" square cake pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. Next, make batter B. In another mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar at high speed until thick.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 1/3 of batter C into batter A/B combo until well mixed, then fold in the rest of batter C until well mixed.
  6. For the first layer, spread a small amount of batter, about 1/8 inch, on the prepared pan. Bake in the center rack of preheated oven until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
  7. 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 1/8 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.
  8. 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.


  • (*) I use spekkoek seasonings from Butterfly brand. Or make your own from equal amount of cinnamon powder, mace powder, and nutmeg powder.


  • Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living says:

    What a beautiful cake! Happy Lunar New Year!

    • Anita says:

      Thank you Jeanette :) Happy Lunar New Year to you as well :)

  • Lisa Ho says:

    Gong Xi Fa Cai Anita, Your lapis cake looks amazingly beautiful.

    • Anita says:

      Gong Xi Fa Cai Lisa! Thanks for the compliment :)

  • Christine | Vermilion Roots says:

    This is such a legendary cake from Indonesia. The layers are amazing. Thanks for sharing the recipe and making it possible for me to try this at home. Homesickness is a great motivation in the kitchen, isn't it? :-)

    • Anita says:

      Yes, homesickness is indeed a great motivator, haha :) Do give it a try and let me know if you have any problem while baking this. It can be rather finicky, especially for first-timers.

  • Marvellina says:

    I've been wanting to make lapis legit for the longest time! I haven't mustered up guts to make it ha.ha..! But, you did such a wonderful job. I have to try out your recipe one of these days for real! And so nice that you can reunite with your family for CNY! I bet you guys will have loads of fun!!

    • Anita says:

      Haha, I agree that lapis legit is one of those recipes we keep telling ourselves we're going to make it, but it's more likely to be in the "postpone indefinitely" category ;) But seriously though, I can honestly say I spend more energy making nastar (pineapple cookies), so definitely give this a try.

  • Marvellina says:

    Btw, just want to let you know that I tried to leave a comment on your V for Veggie blog but I think I was blocked as bot lol !! Love the nastar btw!!!

    • Anita says:

      Thanks for letting me know Marvellina. I'm going to try fixing it :)

    • Anita says:

      Hmm... I disabled some of my unused plugins and I think people should be able to leave comments now. Again, thank you so much for letting me know! :)

      • Marvellina says:

        It works now I think :)

  • Ann says:

    Oh my goodness -- what a gorgeous cake! Happy new year!

    • Anita says:

      Thanks Ann. Happy New Year to you as well :)

  • Doti says:

    Hi Anita, can we use springform pan for this awfully gorgeous cake?

    • Anita says:

      Hi Doti, I have never tried, but if you tried using the spring form pan and the first layer is a success without any batter leaking out, it should be alright for the rest. Let me know how that works out for you :)

  • Ann Low says:

    That's a very neat lapis legit I saw so far. Looks so delicious too!

    • Anita says:

      Thanks for the compliment Ann :)

  • Lokness @ The Missing Lokness says:

    The layers are so beautiful! What a great way to celebrate CNY with your family! Have a wonderful time! :)

    • Anita says:

      Thanks! Happy Chinese New Year to you as well Lokness :)

  • Sharon @Nut Free Wok says:

    What an amazing cake, it sounds delicious! I appreciate the history lesson about the cake, I think that knowing some of the cultural context makes the cake so much more delicious and interesting. Happy #sweetlunarnewyear!

    • Anita says:

      Thanks Sharon :) And Happy New Year to you as well.

  • Sam R says:

    Hi, Anita. Glad to find this recipe. I, too, miss Lapis Legit. Being lazy, can I just dump the whole batter into the cake pan and make it a 'single-layer lapis legit'? If we don't need the layers, can we make it a cake with the same taste as lapis legit, but without the layered texture? Thanks so much.

    • Anita says:

      Hi Sam, I would say go for it! But I am not sure about the temperature and how long it will take. At a rough guess, it probably needs about 175 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for 30-40 minutes, but this is just my rough guesstimate. If you work out the correct oven temperature and the time required, please share :)

  • Laila says:

    Hi, can I omit cream of tartar?

    • Anita says:

      Hi Laila, yes you can omit cream of tartar, but please substitute the 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar with either 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar.

  • Benjamin says:

    This recipe looks delicious! I am wondering though, the cakes that I can buy here locally (the Netherlands) are almost always layered cakes with alternating green/brown layers. Which is the traditional Indonesian recipe? Or are they both different versions of Lapis Legit? I’ll be making this cake regardless, I am just curious!

    • Anita says:

      Hi Benjamin, the most common one in Indonesia is definitely the one like mine. I think the green/brown alternating layer is a fancier version, with the green layer mixed with pandan for color.

      • Benjamin says:

        So if I want to make the fancy version, I would just split the batter in half, add pandan (it's a liquid right?) to one half and then layer them? Would that alter the flavor of the green layers? Seems to me that the 'fancy' version doesn't take much more effort, so that's why I'm curious.

        • Anita says:

          I have never tried adding pandan to the batter before, but the way you described should work, and I am almost sure the green batter will have pandan flavor.

          • Benjamin says:

            I'll give it a go, thank you!

  • Priscilla says:

    Love your site. Recipes are easy to read and understand. But you need one correction here as to translation of spekkoek. It translates to bacon cake. Spek means bacon in Dutch. The layers look like a slice of bacon. Hence the name. Thankfully, it doesn't taste like bacon ; )

    • Anita says:

      You are absolutely right! I'm going to update the post a bit. Thanks! :)

  • Sweetie says:

    Hi , there were 12 egg yolks using and 6 egg whites. May i know what do u do with the balance 6 egg whites? Could we use 12egg whites instead?

    • Anita says:

      Hi Sweetie, I usually just fry the egg whites for breakfast :) Lapis legit is a very rich cake, traditionally we use plenty of egg yolks (like 40!) to make one cake, so I wouldn't recommend increasing the egg whites to 12 or it will be too far off from the traditional version.

  • Carol Mathew says:

    May I know what spekkoek seasoning?

    • Anita says:

      As stated in the recipe, spekkoek seasoning = equal amount of cinnamon powder, mace powder, and nutmeg powder. Since we need 1/2 teaspoon of spekkoek seasoning for this recipe, we need 1/6 teaspoon cinnamon powder + 1/6 teaspoon mace powder + 1/6 teaspoon nutmeg powder.

  • Vanessa Tiong says:

    What kind of butter do you use? Do you have to use the traditional Dutch butter or is there a mix of margarine and butter that can be used?

    • Anita says:

      Hi Vanessa, you can use 100% traditional Dutch butter (like Wijsman butter) in which case, you won't need to add any salt. Most of the time, I simply use European butter, like Kerrygold unsalted butter, or Plugra unsalted butter. I don't use any margarine at all when making lapis legit, though I understand some people use 50% butter and 50% margarine to cut cost. I hope this answers your question. :)

  • Rachel says:

    Hi! I’ve looked through a lot of recipes for this cake. Wondering why rum is used ?

    • Anita says:

      Hi Rachel, I added rum mainly because this is often served for celebration, like Chinese New Year, or Christmas, so the rum seems to fit the occasion. It is perfectly okay to skip the rum, or simply use about 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract instead of the 1 tablespoon of rum. :)

  • Kelvin says:

    Hi Anita , I was wondering whether to use a cold butter or the one that is left overnight ?

    • Anita says:

      Hi Kelvin, I always use room temperature butter when making lapis legit.

  • mike gammon says:

    Hi. Must try this. Can I freeze the cake, as it is far too big to eat!

    • Anita says:

      Hi Mike, you can freeze the cake. When I need to freeze them, I wrap the cake with several layers of saran wrap and put them in the freezer. When I want to serve them, I let the cake thaw in the fridge section (not freezer section) until soft enough to cut with a knife.

  • Lann says:

    apa ada resep yang menggunakan Banyak kuning telur misal 40 kuning telur? dan untuk menambahkan tepung terigu apakah pada saat kocokan kuning telur+gula pasir sudah mengembang kental atau ditambahkan terakhir saat semua adonan telur, Adonan mentega tercampur rata?

    • Anita says:

      Hi Lann, resep tradisional memang memakai 40 kuning telur yah. Tapi ini resep yang sedikit lebih ekonomis, dan sedikit lebih sehat. :) Untuk resep ini, setelah kuning telur dan gula mengembang dan kental, campuran kuning telurnya ditambahkan ke campuran tepung (batter A: butter, susu kental manis, rum, tepung cake, bumbu spekkoek, garam). Penambahan kocokan putih telur itu selalu untuk step terakhir, supaya kue bisa tetap mengembang dan tidak bantet. Selamat mencoba.

  • john mill says:

    thank you its amazing

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