Indonesian Thousand Layer Cake: Kue Lapis Legit



UPDATE: Please also see tips and a different recipe of Kue Lapis Legit in my later post.







I actually made the legendary classic Kue Lapis Legit! I’ve always loved this cake ever since I was a little girl and admired its layers upon layers of beauty! Finding this cake in Vancouver is like a needle in a haystack! So this was a rare treat for myself! As soon as the last layer was completed, I impatiently turned the cake over and started shaving off its sides to marvel at the lovely layers created, at the same time gobbling up the shaved sides in orgasmic pleasure!

I decided to try baking more traditional kues and introducing them to my friends and colleagues. Kue is the Malay / Indonesian word for cake. This topped my “To Bake” list as the ingredients were more readily available in Vancouver’s grocery stores. (Yes, that list is not getting any shorter) This is also my first time submitting a recipe to Aspiring Bakers #12: Traditional Kueh (October 2011) hosted by SSB of Small Small Baker!

A little background history on Kue Lapis Legit. (Loosely translated to Sweet Layered Cake) Also known as Spekkoek, Kek Lapis in Malaysia and spelled Kueh Lapis in Singapore, this cake originated in Indonesia during the Dutch colonial era. It was a birth as a result of the magical fusion between sweet and spices!

This cake is especially popular during Holiday Festivals such as Chinese New Year and Hari Raya as it can be quite labour-intensive and requires a lot of ingredients which can come up to a hefty price. The famous Bengawan Solo in Singapore prices a large Kue Lapis at $50!! Or $1.75 for a tiny slice!

Kue Lapis Legit

Without further ado, I present the recipe I employed, adapted from Poh’s Kitchen. I made some minor changes since I converted the the recipe to the metric measurement I was more comfortable with, and also due to ingredients that were lacking / unavailable. The following is prepared for a loaf pan of 4 and 1/2 x 9 inches. You could double the recipe for an 8 x8 inch square pan.


3 egg whites

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup icing sugar

8 yolks


1/4 cup butter (room temperature)

1/2 cup margarine (healthier butter substitute but might not turn out as great)

2 tbsp condense milk

2 tbsp brandy / rum

1/2 cup cake flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

For the spices:
1 tsp mix spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon

But I did not have my mix spice with me, and so instead:
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom 


  1. Use an electric mixer to bring egg whites and vanilla to soft peak.

    This is what soft peak looks like
  2. Gradually add icing sugar until stiff peaks form.
  3. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well between each yolk. Set Aside.

    Wooo.. lots of eggs!!
  4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and make sure that you pre-heat your pan too!! Note: We are baking under “broil/grill mode”. That means only the top heat is used. I did not pre-heat my pan because the original instructions did not mention that. I realized that the purpose of pre-heating my pan is to allow the batter to “melt” on the hot pan so that its distribution may become more evenly layered. I only had this realization after baking the 3rd layer when the batter almost immediately melted on my previous layers!
  5. Cream softened butter and condense milk in a separate bowl, and then add into egg mixture in small batches. Slowly fold in until well incorporated. Careful not to overmix.
  6. Sift the flour, baking powder and spice powder together.
  7. Fold in the dry mixture in three batches VERY GENTLY. Alternate with the addition of rum / brandy
  8. Grease a 20-22 cm square cake tin with a lift-up base and line the outside of the tin with foil so batter does not leak through any gaps.
  9. Put about 2-3 tablespoons of the cake mixture onto the base of the cake tin and spread it evenly over the base. If you are making this on an 8 or 9 inch square pan, use 4-5 tablespoons instead. Of course, consistency is the key to beautiful even layers!
  10. Put the tin under the grill for about 3-5 minutes or the top is a golden brown. If there are any air bubbles, poke them with a toothpick and flatten each layer with a fondant smoother or any similar equipment.
    Example of Air Bubble on the right

    Flattening with fondant smoother
  11. Remove from oven and scoop the same amount of batter for the second layer. (There is no need to wait for the cake to cool between layers). Repeat the same process. Keep going until you have finished all the batter.
  12. Flip the pan over and wait for the cake to cool for at least 45 minutes before cutting off the sides of the cake. Yes I know I should practice what I preach but the cake just smelled so damn good that I could no longer withhold my palates!
Before Slicing. At least I managed to take a picture before allowing my palates to take control over me
Layers Revealed!!
My Icing Sugar Topping Decoration
I decided to create a Batik-like pattern for the Kue Lapis Topping using icing sugar! I thought it looked quite pretty on the cake, though not perfect! I used a punch tool to punch the designs on a paper and placed the paper over the cake. Then sifted icing sugar over the Kue Lapis.
Kueh Lapis Legit / Spekkoek
As you can see the bottom layers were not as even as the top layers because I did not preheat my pan!
Time to serve!
The cake is traditionally served in tiny petite slices. Think French portions.
Kue Lapis Slices

Hope you guys enjoyed!


41 Comments Add yours

  1. BC says:

    What a silly heading! This was my first time trying the Kue Lapis Legit, and I must say, it is a delicious dessert! Love the taste of a lot of eggs in the cake….it makes it…..EGGSELLENT

  2. samology says:

    oooh ooh!! I guess you were really EGGxited about it!

  3. Samuel says:

    looks yummy!

  4. samology says:

    Thanks Sam! Yeah it’s one of my favourites! I really missed having it in Singapore!

  5. Alice says:

    the Original from Indonesia is still the best 🙂

  6. samology says:

    mmm!! i’ve only had ones from Jakarta! Tastes pretty similar! But haven’t had any from Medan! lol

  7. Alice says:

    Mmmm I think this cake and bika ambon is the 2 “specialty” from Medan …. If I’m nt wrong

  8. samology says:

    Yum!! Bika Ambon is close to the top of my “to bake” list as well. Hehe.

  9. nnsss says:

    Wwwaaaawww…plus that touch up on top!!! So pwetttyyy

  10. DG says:

    Love the batik icing you created 🙂 Nicely baked too, and how I wish the last pic you put on my desktop now 🙂

  11. samology says:

    Thank you sayang!! 🙂

  12. samology says:

    Thank you DG!
    hehe! I know! I’m craving it right now too! Will definitely attempt this high cholesterol cake again!

  13. natzieee says:

    I LOVE THIS! (although it’s quite unhealthy). please fedex me some, thank you. also….. “example of air bubble on the right”.. i literally laughed. hahhahah xx

  14. samology says:

    lol. I’ll definitely make you fresh ones in the future Natzie!! I love this cake too! Super yummy! Going to attempt different flavours soon!!

  15. delicio8 says:

    This looks amazing! I want to try this sometime, does it take a long time? It seems the first layers would be burnt by the time you finished.

  16. samology says:

    hahah.. Well, to be honest it doesn’t take that long for me. Perhaps 3 hours or so? But honestly, most of my baking takes about the same length of time too, because of all the decorating etc etc… So 3 hours really isn’t too long for me!! Make sure you only set your oven on grill mode though!! So only top heat. Preferably the fan is off as well. That way the bottom layers won’t be burnt

  17. Yet another great entry into the baking Olympics! Im very inspired, also how fantastic is Poh Ling, I watched her transition in Australian Masterchef, v awesome!!! I didn’t get a chance to try this the last time I was in Singapore (two yrs ago) but next time I go back, will be on a city wide search for Kue Lapis! (and chilli crab at Jumbo’s Seafood!)

  18. samology says:

    haha. Yeah! I love Poh! Definitely going to try her other recipes 🙂 Are you actually from Singapore then? Me too!

  19. no, just visited a couple of yrs ago! I’m in Australia so 6 hrs away!!!

  20. samology says:

    ohh! Yes! Aussie land is definitely closely located to Singapore! I wanna visit Aussie again!! Haven’t been there in 13 years now! haha..

  21. Lol, I really loved Singapore! I’d only visited as a kid and then of course with my guy the next time round. One of my good mates lives there and he took us on a foodie tour ending up at Newtons Circut at 2am for chilli crab and stingray.

  22. Bonnie says:

    Just wanted to thank you for the recipe, tried it yesterday and it turned out really well!

  23. Sammie says:

    That’s great Bonnie!! Glad to hear that it turned out well for you! 🙂

  24. Tania says:

    Hi Sam! the cake looks fabulous and delicious!
    but in what temperature do you bake your cake? cause I want to try this recipe
    Thanks 🙂

  25. Sammie says:

    Hi Tania, I baked mine using the Grill / Broil function on my oven and it had a temperature of its own! I wasn’t able to set any temperature. Most lapis are baked using this function. If you are however able to only turn on your top grill AND set a temperature, you could set it to about 350 degrees. Try to bake for 3-5 minutes and see how the first couple layers turn out to gauge the rest. 🙂 Good luck!! I hope you enjoy this recipe!!

  26. helen says:

    My 1st few layers seemed to be oily like & like uncooked. The layers werenot pronouned. Then thee subsequent layers were very nice. I used the oven for the 1st layer & switched to grill for the other layers. otherwise the bottom of the 1st layer is uncooked.
    Thank you Samology

  27. Sammie says:

    Hi Helen! Thanks for your comment! I think your first couple layers might seem oily perhaps because the pan was overgreased! But don’t worry. Authentic kue lapis are always SUPER oily. haha.. Also, I think your first layers weren’t cooked enough perhaps because the oven or the pan was not pre-heated enough. By the time the subsequent layers were baking, the pan and oven was probably nice and warm! Also, keep in mind that oven temperature do vary a little! So some are a little stronger than others! So you gotta monitor the timing hehe.. Thanks again for trying the recipe! 🙂

  28. choclatedog says:

    that looks delicious!! do you come from Indonesia? if you do.. can you take a moment to check out this blog based in jakarta? thanks

  29. Sammie says:

    My dad is from Jakarta! But I am located in Vancouver, BC in Canda! 🙂 I will check out your blog for sure!

  30. Jeff says:

    In the ingredients, is it a 1/4 cup butter OR a 1/2 cup margarine?

  31. Sammie says:

    Hi Jeff. It’s 1/4 cup butter AND 1/2 cup margarine that I used. However I would recommend you just use 3/4 cup butter if you want better tasting lapis.

  32. Eva Taylor says:

    I finally made it! Thank you for the inspiration, Sam. I used Emeril Lagasse’s recipe from Food Network because it was very easy to half. It made a very nice small cake in a loaf pan. I didn’t make my layers thin enough but they still look lovely. I made candied orange peel and and orange syrup as garnish! Thanks again.

  33. Irene says:

    Hi, u mentioned 1/4 cup butter & 1/2 cup margarine. If I want to use butter instead of margarine, how much should I use? Is it 3/4 cup butter?

  34. Sammie says:

    Hi Irene. Yes! 3/4 cup butter works fine! If you can, try to use those canned butter. Cheers 🙂

  35. YL says:

    May I know if 1 cup equal to how many grams? Can I omit rum? Thank you.

  36. Chelsey says:

    Where does the margarine go in the recipe? it wasn’t mentioned in the directions. Just curious! 🙂

  37. Annie says:

    Hi Sam, thank u for the very good detailed tutorial & spekkeok powder substitute recipe. They smell so so good. Better than those store bought ones. I cant wait to bake the lapis legit next week (for hari raya). I am very sure it’s very very yummy! Love your blog! Thanks again. Cheers!

  38. Annie says:

    Hi Sam, thank u for the very good detailed tutorial & spekkeok powder substitute recipe. They smell so so good. Better than those store bought ones. I cant wait to bake the lapis legit next week (for hari raya). I am very sure it’s very very yummy! Love your blog! I will be baking more cakes with your very good recipes.Thanks again. Cheers!

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