Culture Street

Feeds about 30
There are many Malaysian sweets that are made with this layered effect but this Indonesian one really ‘takes the cake’. I have many childhood memories of sitting with other children and eating it the only way it should be eaten and that is by gently peeling each layer off, then gleefully dangling it into your mouth. I have been questioned several times about my use of Chinese five spice instead of mixed spice in this recipe, but this is how my mum made it all through my childhood, so consider it the right way for the Yeow family!

390g unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (250g) icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
15 egg yolks
120g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons Chinese five spice
6 egg whites
2 tablespoons brandy
vegetable oil, for greasing

Special Equipment: 20cm square cake tin + electric cake mixer

Cream the butter with half the icing sugar and the vanilla extract with an electric
cake mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat the yolks in one at a time, add the flour, baking
powder and Chinese five spice, then mix with a whisk.

Beat the egg whites with an electric cake mixer until soft peaks form. Add remaining
icing sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until stiff peaks form and all icing sugar
is used. You should be able to tip your bowl of egg whites upside down without
it budging one iota! Whisk one-third of the egg whites into the cake mixture then
gently whisk the remainder in. Add the brandy and whisk gently to combine.

To prepare the cake tin, brush well with vegetable oil, then line the cake tin carefully
with baking paper. Spread a heaped ? cup of mixture evenly on the bottom surface
of the tin and grill on a moderate heat (if it can be controlled) until golden. Remove
the tin from the oven and spread another ? cup of mixture over the surface and
return to the grill – there is no need to cool the previous layer first. Repeat until all
the mixture is used. Cool in the tin completely before running a knife around the
edges, turning it out and slicing into small 1 x 4cm slices. Serve with tea or coffee.

As your cake gets higher you might want to grill the cake on a lower rung in the
oven to ensure the layers aren’t browning before they are cooked through. Also
don’t be greedy for a completely even golden surface each time. If you know it’s
cooked, move onto the next layer or your cake will wind up very dry and tough –
Kuih Lapis should be very moist and dense with a fine crumb.

Recipe and images from Same Same But Different by Poh Ling Yeow.

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