This is an indulgently rich Dutch-Indonesian specialty that is typically enjoyed with coffee. For this recipe, each layer of cake is carefully measured, cooked to perfection, then generously brushed with butter. Making spekkoek can get a little competitive in Holland, with families judging the chef by the number of layers achieved.
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 325 g unsalted butter, 250 g chopped, at room temperature, 75 g melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 10 eggs, separated
- 255 g (1¾ cups) plain flour, sifted
- icing sugar and vanilla ice-cream, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease and line a 22 cm springform cake pan. Combine spices in a small bowl and set aside. Beat chopped butter, vanilla and half the sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and thick. Add egg yolks in 2 batches, beating to combine, then fold in flour.
In another clean, dry bowl, whisk egg whites to stiff peaks, then gradually add remaining 110 g sugar and beat until glossy. Fold one-third of egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture, then fold in remaining egg whites in 2 batches. Divide between 2 bowls, then add combined spices to one, stirring to combine.
Evenly spread one-sixth (about ½ cup) of spiced cake batter over base of prepared cake pan and bake for 6 minutes or until cooked through. Heat grill to medium-high (the rest of the cake will be cooked under the grill). Brush cake with melted butter, then evenly spread one-sixth (about ½ cup) of the plain batter over cooked spiced layer and cook under the grill for 4 minutes or until cooked through. Repeat, alternating between spiced and plain batters and cooking under the grill, to make 12 layers in total. Cool in pan before removing. Dust with icing sugar and serve with ice-cream.
Photography Mark Roper