December 23, 2007
Think Cinnamon, Think Spekkoek
Spekkoek is another Indonesian icon of cake besides Lapis Surabaya which requires patience in the process. My thought about historical background of this cake is coming with the history of Indonesia during the Dutch colonialism who could have brought the introduction of this cake to the Indonesian nationwide.
The word spekkoek itself literally means pork belly cake (resembles the dark and light colour of the layers) and I think during the Dutch colonialism in Indonesia for quite a long time has been somehow becoming a periode of development of the original recipe of spekkoek to the adjustment of spices found in Indonesia. I am wondering though what is the original recipe of the Dutch that now is developed and well-known as lapis legit or kue lapis legit (lapis [laa pees] = layered; legit [le geet] = spiced; kue(h) [ku we(h)] = cake).
If it's something like dobosch torte as the traditional recipe of layered Hungarian cake or baumkuchen in Germany to be the historical backgrounds of the improvement and development of Dutch's spekkoek or Indonesian lapis legit, then the additon of spices mainly is to be fairly an adjustment of the impacts of Indonesian culture of spices-rich food, including cakes and cookies. When I think Dutch was conquered Indonesia for God-knows-how-long centuries ago because Indonesia is big on spices they're lacking of, then the development and improvement of the original recipe can well be made by Indonesian bakers.
It is just amazing. Western recipe, local flavour. How it is in fact that culinary world is so rich of cultures and perspectives of art. I just love baking! And, I do love this elegant layered spice cake and I don't mind to spend God-knows how many egg yolks for this one! I don't bake this cake very often, let's say, once a year or perhaps twice as this is not your ordinary cake. People in Indonesia often make this for special occasion or for religious holidays (such as Ied el Fitr, Christmas, etc.) and weddings. This is like rich fruit cake in New Zealand which traditionally is baked mainly for Christmas or weddings.
Lapis legit todays is developed to be many versions of flavour, you can just do as you fancy. The seem-to-be classic version is the one with flvaoured only with vanilla essence alongside with the spices. I love to include as much spices as I can. Their fragrance is something I'll look for from every slice.
This cake is very rich, therefore, it is served in thin slices. Some recipes require 45, 30, and 20 eggs but I do believe that every crafted hands will do the different ending. Looking at the thin and delicate layers is the satisfaction itself, not to mention the labour it costs, timewise, it is really beyond words.
I am sending this cake for all of you who's celebrating the Think Spice: Cinnamon, a monthly thoughtful arrays of spiced recipes, hosted by Sunita. I have missed previous events, so here I am bringing you guys spiced layered cake! Have a very safe and happy holidays, everyone!
Spekkoek [Lapis Legit]
Source: Kue-Kue Indonesia. Yasaboga. PT Gramedia Utama. Jakarta. 2007.
3 Tbs sweetened condensed milk,
1 Tbs mixed spice (ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and clove),
100g plain flour,
350g caster sugar,
30 egg yolks,
½ tsp vanilla
Beat the butter and margarine until fluffy and pale. Add in the sweetened condensed milk. Beat until well mixed. Beat the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until thick and pale. Whisk in the butter mixture one spoon at a time, mix well. Fold in the sifted flour and spices, mix well. Prepare a square cake tin 22x22cm, line with greased and floured baking paper. Spoon the batter into the tin, 3 Tbs at a time, level the surface. Bake first layer (I use 180C, setting on bake function) until golden brown. Change the setting to grill (my oven 230C). Spoon in 3 Tbs batter on to the first layer, level. Bake under the grill for about 3 minutes or until the surface is golden brown. Remove and repeat the process until all batter is used. Remove from the oven and let cool on the wire rack.