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Dutch-Indonesian Spekkoek (Spice cake)

Spekkoek is a Dutch Indonesian spice cake sometimes called Thousand Layer Cake in English. The cake is rich with butter and eggs and it’s flavored with an intoxicating mix of spices.

The name for this cake is Spekkoek in Dutch and Spekuk in Indonesian. The recipe was created during Dutch East Indian colonial times.

The Dutch word “Spekkoek” translates to “bacon cake” in English. You can see how the thin, bi-color layers resemble a slice of streaky bacon.

The mix of spices is similar those used in Speculaas (Speculoos) Cookies and Speculaas Cake (Gevulde Speculaas).

I make my own spice mix as it is listed in the recipe. But you can use a pre-made Speculaas spice mix if you don’t want to keep a collection of spices in your pantry.

Scroll through the process photos to see exactly how to make Spekkoek:

two photos showing how to make spekkoek batter.
Cream the butter, sugar and yolks to make the base batter. Fold in the whipped whites then add the spice mixture to half the batter.
a bowl of white cake batter, a bowl of spiced cake batter and a buttered cake pan
Gather the two cake batters and the prepared pan then begin making the layers.
a pan with cake batter and a pan with a layer of cake batter
Spread a 1/2 cup of the white cake batter into the bottom of the pan and bake until set.
a pan with spiced batter on top of a baked layer and a pan with a layer of spiced batter
Spread a 1/2 cup of the spiced batter over the baked layer and slide the pan under the broiler.
a finger pressing a cake layer and a toothpick in a cake
To check each layer press lightly to see if it springs back. After the last layer is done, use a toothpick to make sure the center of the cake is fully cooked.

The recipe is a bit of work but you’ll wow your guests when you slice the cake to reveal the lovely layers inside. The cake is very moist and needs no icing at all. A light sprinkling of powdered sugar is the perfect finish.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

Spekkoek

Spekkoek

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Spekkoek is a Dutch Indonesian spice cake. The cake is rich with butter and eggs and flavored with an intoxicating mix of spices.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 sticks (8 oz, 225g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz, 340g) granulated sugar
  • 10 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (7.5 oz, 210g) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • powdered sugar for decoration

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9" springform pan.
  2. Combine all the spices in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set the spices aside while you make the batter.
  3. In a large mixing bowl or in a stand mixer, cream the butter with 1 cup of sugar until light and aerated. Scape the sides of the bowl and the beater. With the mixer running on low, add the yolks in three batches, scraping after each addition. Add the vanilla. Add the flour and mix to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, whip the whites to soft peak. Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar the whip to full peak. Fold the whites into the batter in 3 increments. Don't overfold.
  5. Divide the batter into two equal portions. Sift the spice mixture over one bowl of batter and fold with a whisk to combine.
  6. Spread a 1/2 cup of the white batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake this layer for about 8-10 minutes until the center springs back when pressed. Take the pan out of the oven. Turn on the broiler and place the oven rack 8” from the broiler.
  7. Spread a 1/2 cup of the spiced batter in an even layer over the baked layer. Slide the pan under the broiler until the spiced layer is set, about 1 1/2 minutes. Press the layer to see if the batter is set.
  8. Continue alternating the white and spiced batters in layers until all the batter is finished. When the last layer is done use a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake to make sure the cake is cooked through. If the center is not done switch the oven back to bake and bake until the center of the cake is done.
  9. Cool the cake in the pan to room temperature. Release the sides of the pan and slide a spatula under the cake to transfer it to a serving plate.
  10. Sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar before serving.

Notes

The cake will keep several days, covered, at room temperature.

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