Monday, December 22, 2008

Welcoming summer and a taste of home

Summer is finally here.. After 21 days of what it said to be ‘summer’, Melbourne finally delivers it’s first sunny day. In a city where drastic change in weather is likely to happen in a split second, any ‘nice day’ calls for a celebration. Conveniently, my friend chose this day to hold his farewell BBQ in the park. Lying under a tree with a stomach full of sausages and chicken skewers is just what the doctor order.

As always, I am expected to bring the dessert. A task I happily take with open arms. Unfortunately, this time, I may bit more than I can chew. I had to finish off my macaroon project before I can make something else, otherwise it won’t make the cut before christmas.

Acquiring almost one container full of egg yolks from making macaroons, I decided to look for recipes to help me use some of them up. At first I’m thinking of crème brulee, but I’ve made one just recently, and it was for the same friends. Then I remembered a cake from my childhood that is made basically out of egg yolks. I grew up eating this cake almost everyday. Its buttery softness with a hint of spice always made me think of home. We call the cake ‘lapis legit’, which usually translated to ‘thousand layer cake’ or spekoek if you’re familiar with the dutch language. The cake doesn’t really have a thousand layers, but believe me, when you tried making it, it felt like it has a thousand layers. Since all my friends that is coming to the BBQ are Indonesians, I’m sure they will like this cake. I’ve not yet known someone that doesn’t like lapis legit.

The batter is quite simple to make, and what’s make it better, it used up nearly all my yolks. It calls for 500gr of yolks just to make one 11 inch square cake!! I went easy with the spices, because I was afraid it will over power the cake. But it turned out quite mild to my liking. I love a bit of a kick in my food sometimes. I decided to go a little creative since I have extra time while waiting for my macaroons to bake. I separated about an eighth of the batter and put different flavouring to it. I will alternate the plain layers and the flavoured ones thus creating a new kind of lapis legit. I know this has been done before. There is actually quite a lot of variations to lapis legit such as chocolate or where people add dried fruits or cheese in between the layers. I wanted to make the cheese version specially for M, my beloved who loves to eat anything but when it comes to dessert, he will not appreciate unless it’s something cheesy. I ran out of cheese, and I can’t leave my macaroons home alone to go to the shop, so I put the cheese lapis legit to my I WILL COOK THIS SPECIALLY FOR YOU list.

It’s hard when one household doesn’t have the same taste in food, especially when the other one is as fussy as M. He loves asian food, especially Indonesian. I like them too, don’t get me wrong. But cooking them, is a whole different story. I hate slaving more than 3 hours in front of the stove, buying around 10 different spices that I will only use once just to cook something I can easily get from China town for less than 10$ and tasted more authentic (and greasier). I do make exemption sometimes, and I actually quite thankful for him. If it wasn’t for him, I would never even think of trying to cook anything Indonesian.

Ok, back to the cake. I decided to do a green tea and chocolate version since I still have some matcha powder left in my pantry. Baking the cake is not complicated, it just takes a bit of time and care. Once you get a hang of when to put the next layer in, it’s quite easy really. The green tea and chocolate turned out beautifully. The plain one can do a little bit of extra time in the oven, but it still tasted great. I only managed to take a proper photo of the green tea and chocolate since by the time the cake came out of the oven, we’re already about an hour late for the BBQ. I brought my camera and some cinnamon quills and star anise to the park hoping for a chance to set up a photo shoot, but when I looked away just for a split second, the cake was all gone! I guess I can always make another one with the egg yolks I will have from making the last batch of my macaroon project.

Lapis Legit / Thousand layer cake / Spekoek


500g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
100g caster sugar
500g egg yolks
100g egg whites
1 tin condensed milk
1 tbsp golden syrup or honey
1 tsp vanilla essence
170g* plain flour, sift at least 3 times, making sure there is no lumps.

*when making green tea or chocolate lapis legit, reduce the flour to 140g, and add 30g of dutch processed cocoa powder for chocolate or 30g of matcha powder for green tea.

mixed spices
1/2tsp ground star anise
1/2tsp ground ginger
1/2tsp ground nutmeg
1/2tsp ground clove
1/2tsp ground cinnamon


1. Grease and line an 8″ square tin. Preheat oven to 180o C. Put tin inside the oven while the oven is preheating.

2. In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks with sugar at high speed until thick and pale. When you lift the whisk, the batter should form a ribbon. In a separate bowl, using the paddle attachment, cream butter with condensed milk, vanilla, golden syrup & mixed spices. Do not over mix.

3. Combine the egg yolk mixture to the butter mixture and mix well using a wooden spoon or mixer at a low speed. Add the sieved flour last, fold it in gently.
If you are making the chocolate or green tea lapis legit,take 1/3 of the batter and add in cocoa powder for chocolate or matcha powder for green tea

4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar (optional) until stiff peaks. Gently fold it into the butter-egg mixture.

5. Take the tin out from the oven, spread 2 tbsp of mixture and bake for 10-15 mins, or until the top of the layer is firm to touch and has a lovely brown colour throughout. It is best not to turn your back from the oven for the entire time. Watch it like a hawk, turn the cakes around if necessary to ensure even cooking.

6. Working quickly, spread 2 tbsp for the next layer and grill each layer for about 3 mins. Make sure that the layer is evenly browned before adding the next layer, otherwise you won’t get that brown lines that separates each layers.
For chocolate or green tea lapis legit, do the layers in the following order:

a. Plain – plain – choc/green tea – plain – plain – choc/green tea – plain – plain... etc, finishing with the plain batter.

7. When the top layer is completed, check to see how wet the sides are. If it’s still pretty wet, bake it for another 10 mins, covered with an aluminium foil. If it’s quite dry, bake it for another 5 mins, covered with an aluminium foil. Or until it’s firm to touch and sides are completely dry.

8. Cool cake completely on a wire rack before cutting.

9. Best served with a pot of jasmine tea.

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