Indonesian Layer Cake
You know what they say about failure being the mother of success. The first time I attempted to make Indonesian Layer Cake or Kueh Lapis, I didn't know that I had to press out the bubbles from each layer of the cake when I was baking it. The cake turned out quite edible, but wasn't quite cooked through.
More than a year later, having gotten over my disappointment, I felt ready to attack baking Kueh Lapis again. This time I was armed with my brick layer's tool and also used a smaller loaf tin so that there would be room for more layers.
2 attempts and a few adjustments later, I think that I may be starting to get it right. The cake was baked through, each layer quite uniform, there were only a few air pockets and it had the children's seal of approval. They are crazy about kueh lapis and I used to spend a fortune at Bengawan Solo. Now I need only spend an hour or 2 baking the cake, it's otherwise quite an easy cake to make.
Indonesian Layer Cake :
10 egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
227g unsalted butter (softened)
1 tbsp rum or brandy
2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
130g all purpose flour
2-3 tsp mixed ground spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cumin, coriander)
6 egg whites
a pinch of salt
a small rectangular metal trowel with handle
1.3l loaf tin
Preheat the oven to 175°C. When it is ready, turn on the grill to "low".
Butter the loaf tin. Sift the flour together with the ground spices.
Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk till white and stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In another bowl beat the yolks, sugar and vanilla extract till yellow and creamy.
Beat in the butter, followed by the rum, condensed milk and flour.
Fold in the egg white. I find it useful to use a spatula for this. I've also seen a demo a few years ago where the baker used her hand to fold in the egg white.
The problem with making kueh lapis is that you cannot afford to leave the oven except for a few minutes each time. Using the spatula scoop up a ladle of the batter and spread it thinly and evenly in the loaf tin. The batter should form just a thin layer. Put it under the grill for 5-10 minutes depending on your grill. My current grill takes about 8-9 minutes to lightly brown each layer.
Make sure the top of each layer turns brown before adding more batter to make a new layer. When each layer is cooked, use the (lightly floured) metal trowel to press out any air bubbles before spreading new batter over it. Each layer really requires little batter.
The recipe above makes exactly one 1.3l loaf. When it is all used up, switch the oven setting back to "bake" at 175°C and bake for another 15 minutes.
Let the loaf cool for 5 minutes before turning it out on a cooling rack to finish the cooling process. To serve, slice all sides of the loaf so that the layers can be seen. Kueh Lapis is best eaten in thin slices (it's a very rich cake). Wrap up in cling wrap and refrigerate any leftovers.
PS : This version is not oily though it is rich. If you prefer it softer and oilier, increase the butter. Or use a lot of corn oil.