Cheese Thousand Layer Cake (Lapis Legit Keju)

I did it! I did it! yaaayy.............
This is my second attempt making this kind of cake and the first one was nothing but failure :(. I was determined to make it again until I succeeded and here it is my friend, I proudly present my Lapis Cake :D.

This is another traditional Indonesian delicacy, although Singaporean and Malaysian also have this same cake too. This cake is best known for its ridiculous quantity of butter and egg yolks, making it the number one cake that has the highest cholesterol level :D, not to mention the time it needs to make layer by layer. It needs a great patience and determination. But it's not like you eat it everyday, or you eat the whole thing, so moderation is the key.

Still being traumatic with the failure I had last time, I don't want to waste another 20+ egg yolks and a pound of good quality butter. This is one of the most expensive and labor-intensive cake in Indonesia. To get the best taste, you have to use the best quality ingredients. The freshest eggs, the best quality butter. I would say butter is the key to this cake. We usually use Australian butter that has higher fat content than American butter, and it also has "milky" taste to it that I love so much. The only draw back is that this kind of butter is so darn expensive, about $5 for less than 1/2lb.

I tried a new recipe this time, which uses cream cheese in the batter. You know I love anything cheesy and I still have a little cream cheese left in the fridge. And it only uses less than 20 egg yolks for 7x7in pan. So, it's perfect for another try. 16 egg yolks are not much at all if you're thinking of making this cake. I have a recipe that calls for 60 egg yolks. Yes, you read it right, it's the whole 5 dozens egg yolks and 1.5lbs butter. I'm not that crazy yet, so I'll save it for another time :), but I would be very curious to know how it would turn like.

I used a recipe from auntyyochana site, but I completely change the method. The usual method is you beat the butter and the egg yolk separately until they both bleached, then you combine them together, but the recipe doesn't suggest this. Somehow, I follow my instinct and use the method that I'm familiar with. I also added condensed milk when beating the butter (it's usually added for emulsifier I think? no?) and substitute the rum with Indonesian vanilla powder. It doesn't call for "bumbu spekoek" or mixed spice that's usually make lapis legit its distinct flavor. Some people like it and some don't. I'm okay with it as long as it's not too strong. A little of this spice goes a long way. But I would think it would completely overpower the cheese flavor if it was added. I would prefer it to be added in a regular flavor lapis cake.

I layered it one by one, taking the pan out once every 5 minutes or so, press the cake with fondant smoother, prick the air bubbles if there are any, and layer it with another batter. You need to weigh the batter or use the same amount for each layer to ensure the even finish layers. It took me more than 2 hours I think to finish layering (not counting the batter preparation itself) and all that time, I patiently waiting and sticking my nose to the oven window, watching it carefully like eagle's eyes :D. But seriously, you need to watch it carefully to prevent burning (at least for amateur like me), since you need to use broil setting to brown the layer.

I felt pretty confident when I was halfway through. The cake felt very moist and soft, unlike the first one I made. And I was filled with joy after I cut the four sides and see the pretty layers showing. The very top part was a little too brown than what I would have expected. I was holding a baby and then remembered about the cake!! (I didn't time it). Good thing I didn't burn it or else the last 3-4 hours would have been gone straight to drain :(.

It tasted very moist and soft when I tried it. I was really satisfied with the result, and it completely made my day even though now I'm left with this pain on my feet and my back, hehehe...The cheese flavor is not that strong, I can barely taste it. I think it's predictable, considering the amount of the cream cheese compared to the butter. I would make some adjustment to the recipe to make the ultimate "Lapis Legit Keju". I'm thinking adding more cream cheese, sprinkling each layer with shredded cheese, adding a little more egg yolk to have the usual yellow color in this cake. Some people added yellow coloring to it, but I think it's just fake. This cake is not as yellow as the ones sold in upscale bakery in Indonesia since this doesn't use as many egg yolks. And since I'm a big fan of "milky" flavor, I will substitute some of the flour with powdered milk. Now, it would really be "the ultimate" :D. But don't expect me to make it anytime soon. After this one, we need to work hard to lose that extra calories and cholesterol, not to mention the labor-intensive and time-consuming part. But I gues a multi-component cake would take much longer to make than this.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake for Valentine's Day

We had a small Valentine's gathering last Saturday on Valentine's day with just a bunch of friends. To be honest, it wasn't really for Valentine, it was just a get-together sorta thing. There were only ten of us, the rest of them had a three-day conference that they had to attend. It was a potluck party as usual and I automatically think of dessert whenever I can (who wants to waste an opportunity to bake something special anyway?).

I actually planned on making a heart-shaped cake that has six different components. A combination of flavor that I've been wanting to try for a while and been waiting for the perfect time to make it. The only heart-shaped ring I have is 9.5in wide, and I was planning to make it to feed about 20 people. When I found out that a bunch of them were not gonna make it to the gathering, I had to change plan. I didn't really want to make a cake just for the ten of us.

I remembered when I used to make desserts all the time instead of a cake, although cake is considered a dessert too, but you know what I mean. When I was still in college, living in Texas, I often made desserts and invited my close friends to have dinner together (I would cook the meal too), or I were too busy, I just invited them to have dessert after dinner at 9pm. It was fun, I miss those days. I don't make desserts often anymore. Most of the gatherings we have (Almost all of them actually), involve 15++ people, and there's no way that I would make individual dessert for each one of them. And we always have a very casual get-together, we eat while we're standing and chatting, watching TV. So, a pretty individual platted dessert is never an option. It's usually a cake, not a heavy cake, just a light fruity cake.

So I thought, this is the perfect time to make an individual dessert, instead of a big cake since there are only a few of us. Besides, it's usually a lot quicker than making a cake that has multiple components. After some time thinking and brain-storming, I finally decided on molten lava cake. I used to make it often when I was in TX and I made it once since I got back in CA for the last two years. I first ate it at Chili's I think and since then, I've determined to make it myself at home. So I began trying different recipes for it. Every recipe I tried was good, far from disappointing, but I finally settled on the first one I tried. The first one is always the one that strikes you the most, doesn't it? I believe I modified it from Emeril's recipe (I was a HUGE foodnetwork fan at that time). And this is Valentine, so something chocolaty would be perfect. Besides, chocolate is an aphrodisiac food anyway :D.

I only have 6 ramekins so that's how many I would make. It wasn't long at all whipping the batter up. The good thing about it is that I can refrigerate the batter and bake it just before serving it. If I baked it way before serving it, it would be just like a flourless chocolate cake instead of molten cake. I brought along Muscat wine and a soft red wine too for the after meal drink.

The cakes were gobbled up pretty quickly just minutes after coming out from the oven, and yes they have to share. It's best if paired up with some vanilla ice cream, but unfortunately the only ice cream my friend had on hand was cherry chocolate chip ice cream. So, we will have to make do with that and with some rum whipped cream and we thought it was still fabulous. I don't have any fresh red fruit to decorate it with, it would be much prettier if they were decorated with some raspberries, strawberries and mint leaves and also vanilla ice cream on the side. But my friends have never cared too much about decoration at all, as long as they can eat it (those barbarians tsk tsk tsk :D). I am so glad that they all LOVED it. I used 75% dark chocolate, making the cake sweet enough but has a bitter aftertaste from the chocolate (in a good way). It was definitely perfect for Valentine's dinner for those chocoholics and those who are not (even I liked it and also did my brother who is anything but chocolate fan).

I only baked five of them at my friend's house, leaving the last one to be baked at home and at least photograph it. So, here it is. The picture is not that much better than the one took at the party, but oh well.

Black Forest Cake

Another black forest post. It has been a while though since I made black forest. I don't normally make the same cake more than two times, unless if it's a cake order.

It was one of my dearest coworkers birthday last week and he requested black forest cake for his birthday cake a month before :), it is his ultimate favorite cake. Having made black forest cake many times before, of course I'd happily approve it :D

There are nothing much too say about this cake. Just the usual black forest cake components (my way) with three layers of dark chocolate sponge, moisten heavily with rum solution, filled with a layer of rum whipped cream, dark sweet cherries, a layer of chocolate cream, and frosted with the rest of rum whipped cream. Maraschino cherries and dark chocolate shavings make a traditional finish to the black forest cake. What I love about cake like this is that you don't have to think hard about how you're gonna decorate it. Black forest has it's particular look. Of course I can always decorate it all I want, but why would I? I want people to know that it's black forest cake inside, and not a mousse cake or anything.

So, here it is. I guess the most time-consuming part of this cake is the chocolate shaving part. I have never been good with chocolate. I don't usually temper my chocolate if I make some decoration with it (yeesss, I know how bad untempered chocolate can be), it was time consuming, messy, more bowls and spatula to be washed, etc. But I tempered it this time. The room temperature was too cold to work with chocolate that night, it was 17-18 C. I'm not a chocolate expert at all but I believe room temperature of 20-22 C is best to work with chocolate? Anyways, I wanted to have more long choc. curls but the chocolate set too quickly. The worst part of working with choc, is of course when it's time to clean up. I'm just glad I'm not a chocoholic which means that I don't make chocolate cake that often. But wait, umm...if I am a chocoholic, I don't think I would mind at all cleaning up the chocolate mess as long as I get one decadent chocolate cake, do I :D?

Mango Pudding

I actually made this about three weeks ago. But lazy-ness got the best of me and put it off until now :D. I absolutely LOVE everything about mango. I love everything that has mango in it, although I'm not a big fan of it in savory dishes though. I always think that fruits are meant for sweet stuff.

I've been wanting to be able to make a killer mango pudding just like those in dim sum place. I tried making it once before using agar agar (a type of gelatinous substance just like gelatin, but derived from seaweed). It was far from perfect though. The color was pale yellow, and the texture was nothing close to smooth and silky. The flavor of the mango was very vague too. So, I determined to continue my search for the perfect mango pudding recipe.

This recipe is using gelatin for the gelling agent. Although agar and gelatin are both gelatinous substances, but the texture they produce are different. I used heavy cream for the liquid to get that silky texture. I also used mango pulp leftover from the rainbow cheesecake I made before. If I haven't told you before, this is one of my absolute favorite ingredients. The taste of the mango is so intense, not to mention the vibrant yellow color, and most importantly, it's available all year long and guaranteed sweet!!!

I wouldn't say that this recipe is the one I'm looking for, but at least it's better than the first one I made. I've never been a big fan of too-much-gelatin. I tried to use as little as possible of gelatin in my mousse and my other desserts. The texture of too-much-gelatin is somewhat rubbery to me. Although I do realize that that amount of gelatin is needed for the pudding to hold it's shape. But, it's not the kind of texture I'm looking for in a pudding. I would imagine pudding to be smooth, silky, soft, and you don't have to use your teeth that much to process it. I guess the search is still continued? If anybody's willing to share the ultimate pudding recipe, I would REALLY appreciate it :)

Here's the recipe if you want to try it:

Mango Pudding

1 cup mango pulp
1/2 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbs. cold water
1 Tbs. powdered gelatin
  • Combine the mango pulp, heavy cream/evaporated milk, milk and sugar in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil.
  • In the meantime, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let it bloom. Then, melt the gelatin in microwave for a few secs to melt the mixture (don't let it come to boil. 5 seconds will do just fine)
  • Pour the melted gelatin into the cream mixture and stir well.
  • Take the pan off the heat and pour in any mold you want. Let it set for a few hours before unmolding.

Potato Donut

Strangely, I was craving donut last week. Maybe it's because the main topic of my mailing list for the past two weeks was donut. There were donut posting everywhere, and after seeing those tempting donut pictures, I just could resist making it myself.

This is probably not the kind of donut you normally know. This donut has potato in it, mashed. It gives the donut different texture and also taste. Which one is better? Both are good and they're different from textural point of view and I like both equally. But this kind of donut reminds me the kind of donut I used to have when I was a kid.

I made this once before, but it was more than a year ago. I was a little afraid or skeptical about it before I made this donut. First, I don't feel like kneading the dough manually, it's just way too tiring, especially since there are so many donut out there. But I always keep in my mind that homemade donut is exceptional. So, I continue. Second, it's winter and yes California can be cold at times. It was gorgeous and beautiful 2 weeks before, but somehow, I just gotta pick one of the coldest weeks to make donut :(. With the help of my faithful Kitchen Aid and also the strength of my hand, the dough is finally ready for proofing. I put it in the oven, which I have turned on to warm. I tried it with hot water in a pan and put it on the bottom of the oven, but it didn't work. It did take much longer time to rise, compared to summer.

So, finally the donut is fried after the second proofing for breakfast the day after. I didn't do anything fancy with the glaze or topping. I just cover them with what we usually call donut sugar. I believe it is also known as dextrose. It is different from confectioners sugar. Donut sugar has that "cold" feeling when it touches your tongue. I couldn't find it here easily in the US, so I brought some from Indonesia on my last trip.

I was somewhat satisfied with the result. I mean it was good, but I've made a better one before with different recipe. Maybe with the different weather here compared to the one in Indonesia (the recipe is an Indonesian recipe), I need more liquid? Since I really think the amount of liquid is too little for the amount of bread flour called for. But everybody else in the mailing list doesn't seem to have the same problem. Or maybe it's the type of bread flour I used? Or the proofing process? I don't know but I can't wait for summer to come so that I can bake all the yeast-y goodies.

Potato Donut
Courtesy of Fatmah Bahalwan

500 g bread flour
50 g powdered milk
100 g sugar
11 g instant yeast (in Indonesia, instant yeast comes in 11 g packet)
200 g potato, steamed and mashed, cooled
75 g butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. salt
4 egg yolks
100 ml ice water
  • Combine the flour, powdered milk, sugar, and instant yeast in a mixer bowl (or large bowl if you plan to knead it manually). Mix well
  • Add the mashed potato and egg yolks, mix well
  • Add the cold water (no ice please) in a steady stream with the mixer still running. Or if you do it by hand, add the water in about 2-3 addition. Continue kneading until the dough is somewhat smooth but not completely elastic.
  • Add the butter and salt and continue kneading until elastic and the dough doesn't stick to the side of the bowl anymore. This is the key to a soft donut (or any type of bread for that matter)
  • Let is rice in a warm place until the dough doubled in volume (time varies depending on the temperature of the room).
  • Weigh the dough about 50g each (or less if you want smaller donuts), and shape it to the regular donut shape, or any shape you like.
  • Let it proof the second time until the dough rise again.
  • Deep fry the dough in hot oil over medium heat. Make sure it's not too hot

Pandan Madness

Yes, I'm still alive in case you're wondering. Haven't been baking all that much lately. There were so much work to do, so much going on that I couldn't squeeze in some time aside to bake. It was also my birthday two weeks ago and I was occupied with birthday lunch, dinner, dinner again, and some other celebration. Whenever I decided to set aside some time to bake later, I was stuck with the hardest question ever "what do I want to bake?". There are a lot of cakes, desserts on my list, but it's hard to decide which one I WANT to make. I need to have that mood for that particular cake/dessert to make it. Yes, call me weird or crazy, but that's how it is. I won't bake even if I have the whole day if I don't feel like making something particular. That kind of mood just come and go as they wish and I never know when.

Anyways, finally forced myself to bake something last Sunday. I had a 2.5-hour nap that afternoon and I was wide awake the whole night. I was by myself at home at that time, and not wanting to be useless, I decided to go downstairs and be productive. I wasn't in the mood of baking something fancy or complicated lately. So I baked pandan chiffon cake which I covered with buttercream and cheese later on for my brother. He's been asking me to make this cake for him since about three weeks back. I know, I can be that mean sometime :D.

Making chiffon was pretty quick, and I still had the whole night to kill. So, I made another cake, a type of Indonesian steamed pandan cake with shredded coconut on top. I made it a couple of times before, but I felt like experimenting a little that night. So, I modified the already-modified recipe that I usually use, change this and that, add this and to the steamer it goes. I was a little worried about the result. For a second there, I regret what I did and thought that I should have sticked with the one I used before. The batter was thinner than I would have expected, but it was too late. I was smiling happily when I took the cake out of the steamer, unmold, and touch it to find out if the texture improved. It was soft, moist and light. I don't usually like steamed cakes as they're usually dense and very filling. But not this one. It stays soft, even after 4 days (in an airtight container of course) without having to microwave it for a few seconds. I was really pleased with it.

I guess my night turned out to be not so useless after all :D