AKA another crazy cake for my birthday that takes forever to make and I'll unsuccessfully vow never to make again.
Seriously, making this cake was C-R-A-Z-Y. Not only did it take several hours to make, but when each individual layer was being grilled (because that's how you get the defined layers), you CAN NOT leave the oven as browning happens really suddenly. You can do literally nothing else but hover by the oven, layer on more batter, and hover some more.
Still, it's worth it for the end effect.
Even prep work was lengthy. It took waaaay too long to separate 22 eggs. 22 EGGS. This recipe calls for 22 egg yolks and only 5 egg whites, which means you're left over with a shedload of whites (which I'll use in my next recipe – watch this space!). Then, once you're done, you have to wait 2–3 days for the flavours of the cake to mature before eating.
This cake is really popular in Malaysia and Indonesia, and goes by the name of kuih lapis Sarawak, Sarawak kek lapis, lapis legit and spekkoek. They're all more or less the same though: layers and layers and layers of rich, dense, moist, buttery cake very lightly spiked with spice and rum.
You can also find these in lots of colours and patterns, with the more skilled and experienced kek lapis bakers creating insanely intricate patterns. My favourite flavour is kek lapis prune, which is the plain kek lapis layered with sweet, gooey prunes. Of course I am me, so of course I had to make my birthday kek lapis with lots of food colouring, too.
Make sure you have lots and lots of bowls if you want to make this recipe. Especially very big ones for whipping up the eggs, as you end up making a lot of batter.
As you can see, I painted the top with edible gold lustre dust, or it would have looked a little plain.
22 egg yolks
5 egg whites
300g caster sugar
500g unsalted butter, softened
4tbsp condensed milk
1tsp cream of tartar
200g plain flour
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp ground ginger
1/4tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
200g prunes, soaked in 4tbsp rum overnight and sliced thinly (reserve the rum once drained)
Food colouring of your choice
1) Preheat the grill setting of your oven to 170 degrees C and grease and line the bottom of a deep 8" square cake tin. Place the pan in the oven to warm up.
2) Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until they for stiff peaks, and whisk in half of the sugar, salt and the cream of tartar until glossy.
3) In a large separate bowl, beat the yolks with the other half of the sugar until pale and fluffy. Cream in the softened butter, vanilla, rum from the soaked prunes and condensed milk.
4) Gently fold in the meringue, followed by the flour and spices.
5) Divide into 6 smaller bowls and stir in food colouring.
6) Take the pan out of the oven and spread half of your first colour on the bottom, letting the heat of the cake tin help you spread the mixture as it melts. Grill for a couple of minutes until golden brown (you'll need to watch it like a hawk at first while you get the hang of it).
7) Take it out of the oven, pierce any large air bubbles with a toothpick and flatten with an icing smoother. Now spread on the rest of that same colour as a second layer, and pop a few sliced prunes on top, and return to the grill.
8) Keep on layering and grilling, adding prunes every second layer (once you get to the last layer leave it 'blank').
9) For the last layer, switch the grill to normal oven mode at 180 degrees C and bake for 10 more minutes to make sure the cake is cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before unmoulding.
10) Once you've unmoulded it, it'll look a little messy. That's okay: just trim off the sides to reveal the magic inside!
11) Slice into three equal 'bars': this cake is eaten in small slices because it's so rich. Wrap up each bar, leave them for a couple of days to mature, slice and enjoy!
The cake can also be frozen for a couple of months. I just kept half at home and fed the other half to my colleagues.