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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, Spekuk in Indonesian and Thousand Layer Cake in English. 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.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Ground cinnamon (You can use a pre-made spice mix in place of the individual spices.)
  • Ground ginger
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Ground cardamom
  • Ground cloves
  • Ground anise
  • White pepper
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • All purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Confectioner’s sugar

How to make Spekkoek, aka Thousand Layer Cake :

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Spread a 1/2 cup of the spiced batter over the baked layer.
  • Slide the pan under the broiler to cook the top layer.
  • Continue alternating white and spice layers.
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.

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4.63 from 29 reviews

Spekkoek Recipe

Spekkoek is a Dutch Indonesian spice cake also known as Thousand Layer Cake. The cake is rich with butter and eggs and flavored with an intoxicating mix of spices.
Prep Time30 mins
Bake Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground anise
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar (1 ½ cups, divided)
  • 10 large eggs (separated)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 7 ½ ounces all purpose flour (1 ½ cups, see note)
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • confectioner sugar (for decoration)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Butter and flour a 9" springform pan.
  • Combine all the spices in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set the spices aside while you make the batter.
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ½ teaspoon ground cardamom, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon ground anise, ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 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.
    8 ounces unsalted butter, 10 large eggs, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 7 ½ ounces all purpose flour
  • In a separate bowl, whip the whites to soft peak. Slowly add the remaining ½ cup sugar the whip to full peak. Fold the whites into the batter in 3 increments. Don't overfold.
  • Divide the batter into two equal portions. Sift the spice mixture over one bowl of batter and fold with a whisk to combine.
  • Spread a ½ 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.
  • Spread a ½ 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 ½ minutes. Press the layer to see if the batter is set.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar before serving.
    confectioner sugar

Equipment

KA Hand Mixer
9" springform pan
Offset Spatula

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Notes

If measuring the flour by volume use the “dip & sweep” method. That is, dip the measuring cup into the flour bin, overfill it, then sweep away the excess.
The cake will keep several days, covered, at room temperature.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 368kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 177mg | Sodium: 152mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 673IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 2mg
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