This Cake is Legit. Lapis Legit: Spekkoek, or the Thousand Layer Cake

Well, here’s something different, but also pretty amazing.  It’s a broiled cake. Yup, you read that right. Broiled. But how can that be, you ask? Lucy, let me ‘splain.

Spekkoek, or Spiku, today’s dessert, is a Dutch-Indonesian cake, and a fine example of the influence European colonization has historically had on the nation’s cuisine.  This Dutch cake base maximizes the gifts of the Spice Islands with a fragrant array of cinnamon, ginger, anise, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves.  In Indonesia, this also known as lapis legit, which literally translates to “very rich layer cake” and, given the amount of butter in the recipe, it’s a very appropriate moniker.  Not only rich, but aesthetically, it’s pretty awesome, and a full-blown cake can have up to 15 layers. Impressive indeed.  Too legit to quit.

What I found most intriguing about this is that the layers are actually broiled, one by one atop the other, which means this cake actually takes very little time and little skill besides a watchful. It made me think of the traditional Dobos tortes from the motherland back in Hungary with an equally impressive amount of layers, all of which are individually baked.  No doubt much more laborious.  Maybe the Hungarians should take a page out of the Indo-Dutch cookbook.

My version was a mini since I live in a mini-household. As such, I only put ten layers in mine.  Equally impressive, I say, and no less tasty.  I was actually so blown away by this method of layering, I’m wondering in what other sorts of cakes I can try this method…stay tuned to see what my inner squint will concoct.  Mwahahahaha…

Recipe adapted from The IndoChef


1 cup butter, softened

1 cup plus 2 TB sugar

10 large eggs, separated

pinch of salt

1 cup flour

2 TB powdered sugar

Spice mixture

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground anise

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp ground cloves


1.   Preheat the broiler.  Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs yolks a few at a time.

2.  In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites with the salt until stiff. Fold into yolk mixture. Fold in flour.

3.  Divide batter between two bowls. Add the spice mixture to one bowl and mix in well. Line the bottom of a buttered 9″ (25 cm) round cake pan (or springform pan) with wax paper and butter the wax paper.

4.  Pour about ½ cup of the spiced batter into the pan, spreading to form a thin (about pancake thickness) layer.

5.  Place pan under a preheated broiler (oven grill) for 2 minutes, or until the layer is firm and very lightly browned. Spread ½ cup of the plain batter over the top and broil until firm. Repeat layering and broiling until all batter is used. Leave cake to cool, then remove from pan.

6.  Sprinkle top with icing (confectioners) sugar. Serve in thin slices.


My cake looks a bit sloppy because, after almost burning one of the layers (like I said, careful eye…), I of course undercooked the next one. Rookie mistake. Therefore, slicing sort of smushed it a bit.  Still tasted great. Next time, it’ll be much prettier.


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