Kek Lapis Sarawak has become such an iconic part of Sarawak heritage and tradition, it is served during festive or special occasions. However, because of its growing popularity, it is available all year round and you may find all sorts of flavours.
As the name suggests; lapis means layer – hence Kek Lapis Sarawak is actually a cake of multiple layers.
Each has unique patterns, rich taste and vibrant colours that come with a variety of local and modern flavours. There is gula Melaka, Cadbury chocolate, red velvet and so much more!
According to the history, the cake was originally introduced by The Betawi from Batavia who has brought their layer cake to Sarawak in the 70s and 80s. They taught the local to make what they called ‘Kek Lapis Betawi’ or spiced cake that used spices like clove, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise as flavours.
Although it might look simple, baking a Kek Lapis is not your ordinary cake baking.
Traditionally, cakes are popped into the oven together as soon as all layers are assembled but Kek Lapis Sarawak cooked slightly differently.
The layers are cooked progressively and by this, each layer is baked one by one until the cake is done and ready to eat. On top of that, ‘baked’ are actually broiled. That ensures the heat from the top of the oven only cook the topmost layer without overcooking the layer below.
An authentic Kek Lapis Sarawak will normally around 3 inches high and 8 inches wide. It should have that firm texture and of course a similarly sweet, sticky spread between the layers. Usually, the process of making one takes between 4 – 6 hours.
A typical ‘roll’ or chunk of Kek Lapis Sarawak are sold around RM15 to RM30 depending on the ingredients and flavours. You can pick them up from many stores, like Maria Kek Lapis, Mira Cake House, Liza Kek Lapis, and Kek Lapis Dayang Salhah, these are the most famous place in Sarawak.
Again, no matter what type of Kek Lapis Sarawak you try, whether it has plain, ordinary layers or features complicated patterns and motifs, just remember it has taken absolute patience to create the perfect cake.
So next time you bite into an authentic Sarawak layer cake, remember to savour every moment and appreciate the work that went into making this delicious treat.