Spekkoek is a traditional Dutch-Indonesian spice cake that Mum used to make around New Year’s every year. They call it lapis legit in Indonesia these days. It’s a unique cake in many ways. The most unique is that it is not baked; it is broiled aka grilled, thin layer by layer, alternating a dark spice layer and a white cake layer. The older generation would compete and try to see who could get the most layers. Over the last couple of years, Mum’s ceased making it, and since I’m usually on my own, I never can be arsed; but this morning Mum showed up on my doorstep bearing this cake (shop-bought, but very tasty…though her own is still unsurpassed).
Here’s the recipe:
1 pound (8 ounces) of unsalted butter
10 large eggs separated
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons ground anise
10 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
Set out eggs and butter so they can come to room temperature. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and lightly mix. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until dry and stiff. Then mix into batter, folding in a little bit at a time. Add flour in a few small batches. Mix on low until incorporated.
Divide batter into two bowls, reserving just a little bit extra in the “white” batter bowl. In the other bowl, add the spices (it helps to add all the spices in a smaller bowl and give it a quick whisk before pouring into batter).
Grease and flour a 9” or 10” springform pan. You can cut out wax or parchment paper and insert on the bottom of the pan if desired.
Start with the white batter. With the back of a spoon or spatula, cover the bottom of the pan with the white batter. Push the batter all the way to the sides of the pan as it will slightly shrink up once it’s grilled. Grill it from the centre rack of your oven. The first layer will take longer to grill than succeeding layers. Bake each layer until lightly browned with small bubbled up holes, almost like a crepe or pancake, about 2 minutes. Alternate layers, white, black, white, black, until all the cake batter is gone. Make sure your first and last layers are both white layers.
When finished, let the cake cool, remove from pan then dust lightly with powdered sugar if desired. It can keep in a cake tin or wrapped in aluminium foil for a few days. Cut the cake in 1/4’s and serve in very thin slices.