It has been 15 years since I baked a kueh lapis!
When I was learning to bake in the 80s, making kueh lapis was the ultimate test of a baker’s skill. We all saved for a Baby Belling that had the best temperature control for cakes.
Of course, I could never afford one that cost $300. So, after I got married, I had no more access to my father’s oven, and it was rare to install an oven in a newly wed’s house, I baked with anything I could find: the microwave oven, the toaster … I could whip up everything by modifying the recipes. And I kept baking anyway. To this day.
Baby Belling is no longer something we see in the market. Today I bake with the Miele oven installed in my Ang Mo house. Hehehe… what a luxury compared to what it used to be.
So here’s my kueh lapis recipe. I quite like it, though today, I realized all my pans are round and the only square pan I have is really quite shallow. I don’t have the kueh lapis leveler, so I tapped until it is level. After some practice, it worked well on the second cake.
16 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1tsp vanilla essence
1tsp mixed spices
3 tablespoon cognac
100g self-raising flour
- Cream butter and half the sugar until white and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time after each emulsifies with the cream. Add the vanilla essence and the cognac, then fold in the flour+spices in as few strokes as possible.
- Beat egg whites and the remaining sugar to soft peaks (some people say meringues should be stiff peak, I do not agree, because it makes the meringues unstable to work with - but do whatever suits)
- Combine the mixtures (1) and (2), adding the egg yolk mixture to the egg white mixture in 3 equal portions.
- When baking, I use the soup laddle, 2 scoops for the first layer for a 9x9 inch pan. It takes about 3 minutes on a 230 degrees Celsius grill to cook that layer.
- After that, I use 1.5 scoops and 2.5 minutes, leveling between each layer, and poking 4 times with a fork on the cake before layering.
- Until all the batter is used up.
This cake takes a whole 2 hours to bake! So that’s why it might be another 15 years before I bake another!
Note about the ‘moistness’ of the cake:
If I leave it a little longer, so that the cake is dryer, I get a fluffier cake. I reason it is because when you put a new layer on, it ‘sits’ on the prior layer and suppresses it. But if the lower layer is fluffed up and cooked, it doesn’t get pressed down so easily.
Also, I like to do this closer to winter, when the room temperature is lower, so the batter doesn’t ‘melt’ as I pile on the layers between grills.