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!