Dutch-Indonesian Spice Cake (spekkoek)

This cake originated during the Dutch-Indonesian colonial era. It probably gets its name from the fact that it resembles bacon, which is ‘spek’ in Dutch. Close to my house there is a very good Indonesian restaurant, called Didong, where I often go with my family. There, we always have spekkoek for dessert, which I love! That’s why I wanted to try making it myself.

Spekkoek is a lot of work and takes a long time to make, so it’s a great cake to make on snow days or rainy weekends. Mine has 19 layers, but of course you can make it with less layers too. Because of the time it takes to make the cake, it is usually cut in small slices so you can enjoy it for a longer period of time.

To make this cake, you need an oven with separate top and bottom heating element. It’s tempting to eat the cake right away, but it’s better to wait until the next day (or even the day after that), when the spices have had the time to develop and the cake is more moist.

Serves a lot of people
Action Time: 3-4 hours

10 eggs
300 g butter, softened
300 g fine sugar
2 el melk
175 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the spice mixture:*
5 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground star anise
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground (or freshly grated) nutmeg

Extra: electric mixer, greased 9 inch /23-34 cm springform pan, parchment paper

*I prefer grinding spices myself with a pestle and mortar.

1. Preheat the oven to 350F / 175C. Separate the eggs. In a clean large bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until white, fluffy, and stiff.

2. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer for several minutes, until fluffy. Gradually add the egg yolks and milk, and beat for several minutes until light and fluffy. Sift the flour over the bowl and fold into the mixture. Add the egg whites and fold into the batter.

3. Divide the dough in two equal portions (I weighed it). Add the spices to one portion and the vanilla extract to the other portion.

4. Cover the bottom of your baking pan with parchment paper. With a spoon add about 2 tbsp of the brown batter and smooth it out with the back of the spoon. It should be about the thickness of a crepe. Put it in the oven for about 4-6 minutes or until the batter is set, it should not be crispy.

5. Remove from the oven. Add a layer of the white batter and put it in the oven for 4-6 minutes or until the batter is set. Repeat adding layers with the rest of the batter. DON’T FORGET TO SET THE TIMER. After 5 layers, turn off the bottom heating element so that you are only using the top heating element (otherwise the bottom layers of the cake will become dry). Put the baking pan on a rack close to the top heating element in de oven and continue layering until there is no batter left.

6. Remove form the oven and let cool. Cut in very thin slices. The spekkoek is more moist and tastes better the next day!

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