An excellent easy-to-bake recipe for durian layer cake (durian lapis cake), fit for your everyday tea treat, or the festive Lunar New Year.
Hello everyone! Finally, I’m making this Indonesian durian layer cake my first post in 2016. I’ve been away for quite a while and it’s all been a whirlwind without me realising it.
Travelling, feasting and merry making filled my December last year. I was away from home to visit family in Canada. Boy, was it a snowy and blistery Christmas!
While it was a wonderful reunion, I’m really happy to be back to my beautiful, warm and tropical Singapore.
I’ve been completely off my daily routine the past 2 months, and I have to say that I’m still not feeling all that settled. But day by day, I’m beginning to get back into the swing of things.
Some things never change, though, and I have to admit, folks, that I am completely useless when it comes to baking goodies and treats in advance for Lunar New Year.
Every year, I have an ambitious list of all the goodies I want to bake. And as it always turns out, life has a way of pulling you in a thousand directions at the same time in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year.
Making it almost impossible for me to achieve my baking goals. But, not all is lost yet!
In spite of all the day-to-day hubbub, I’m doing whatever it takes to carve out time to make my must-have Chinese New Year favourites!
And the first of these are Indonesian layer cakes (kek lapis).
About this Indonesian durian layer cake
Indonesian durian layer cakes (durian lapis or kek lapis durian) are insanely rich, dense cakes. They are utterly buttery, spice-infused and fat-loaded festive cakes.
In spite of all this, these cakes are loved and highly sought after every Chinese New Year. Festive feasting just wouldn’t be the same without these traditional treats on our table.
This durian layer cake is a twist on a traditional favourite that will please all of us who are durian lovers. If you prefer traditional layer cakes, you can check out this recipe for Kueh Lapis Batavia.
Layer cakes are a labour of love
Now, I know that when many of us often think of baking a homemade layer cake, it’s not hard to see how daunted or discouraged we can feel.
Layer cakes are truly a labour of love. The process can be tedious and long. Consider this.
You’ll need about 30 minutes to prep your ingredients and make the cake batter. Then, there’s the average 8 to 10 minutes grilling time for each layer. If you’re ending up with an average of 12-layers, that’s almost 2 hours.
But there’s also the time in between the grilling. Before pouring the batter for the next layer, we need to prick, press, and spread.
So you can expect a good 3 hours, most of it spent hovering by the oven by the time it’s all good and done. Is it really worth it? In my opinion – one hundred percent, absolutely!
Useful tips when baking durian layer cake
Here are just a few things to note when making an Indonesian durian layer cake or any layer cake:
- To achieve distinct and beautifully mocha-coloured lines, brown the tops to a deep or dark golden brown. Note the emphasis on dark, but just don’t end up burning the tops.
- How many layers you can get depends on the amount of batter as well as the size of your cake pan. Though, it’s impressive if you can get many, many layers, and as thin as possible.
- It takes some skill and careful watching to get the layers very thin and browned, without over-baking or burning them under a grill. I’m not too ambitious, and am happy to aim for 10 to 12 layers.
- Use a fondant or lapis press to press down each baked layer onto the one below it. Doing this essentially seals the layers together, before you add batter for a new layer.
Don’t have a fondant or lapis press? No worries, I don’t either, and I ended up using a fairly heavy glass container (like the air-tight Lock&Lock ones) as a weight.
If you’re using glass weights, do be careful though – press lightly and just briefly for 2-3 seconds in any one particular area, wipe the base dry of steam or condensation with a clean paper towel (or else the browned top may end up sticking to your glass base, and we can’t have that happen, can we?), before pressing the weight onto the next area.
- Prick and press the layers to help eliminate air pockets appearing in between layers. This will give you a tight and beautiful cross-sectional pattern when sliced.
I get my supply of frozen durian puree from Ah Seng Durian located in Ghim Moh Temporary Market (you can check out their Facebook page here).
If you buy the fruit fresh from the vendor, remove the flesh from the seeds and blend until you get a fairly smooth and thick puree.
How to store durian puree
I usually divide the puree into 150 to 200 gm portions. These are more or less the amounts that are called for in recipes using durian puree.
To prolong their freshness, I bag these in freezer bags. Frozen durian puree are good for up to 6 months, so you’ll have lots of time and opportunities to use them in your future bakes.
So, I really hope you’ll have a go at it. This is a really easy cake to bake. Have your kids or a good friend come over to help you. You’d be surprised how eager friends can be to see you torture yourself.
But, the real deal is that once you’ve turned out a really good lapis cake based on a tried and tested recipe like this one here, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make home-made lapis cakes sooner! So, let the feasting begin!