Sarawak Kek Lapis or layered cake baking started out as a hobby among housewives in Sarawak. It originated from Indonesia but as time passes by, it became one of the most popular souvenir in Sarawak. Sarawak layer cakes gain their popularity with their colorful layers and delicious tastes. The texture of the cakes are tidier and smoother, plus it is long lasting, and can be eaten months after baking provided you store them in the fridge.
The main ingredients to make the batter for this cake is quite simple. It requires butter or margarine, milk, flour, eggs and jam. However, it needed more eggs than the other cakes. Most people likes the cakes made with butter than the one made with margarine as it is fluffier than the latter. However, it depends on each person’s tastes. The prices are higher, as the cakes made with butter are more expensive.
Kek lapis can be found in ordinary layers or with patterns and motives. Cakes with ordinary layer are easier to make while the latter needs creativity and consumes a lot of time. The cakes need to be cut out to make certain shapes. This can be seen in Swiss rolls, a Sarawakian version of the famous cake, by rolling the cut out cakes in a thin layer of cake.
Each of the layer needs to be made with extreme caution. When people make it at home, the results are often disastrous that can be considered as a failure. They need to control the temperature, upper and lower heat of the oven to prevent the cake from burning. As it takes a lot of time and patience, people just buy it from the local bakery when they are celebrating Eid ul-Fitr, Christmas, Deepavali and other celebrations.
Of course, every cake is different from each other. Flavors vary according to the coloring used in each layer. For example, evergreen layer cakes are green in color by adding pandan paste into the batter. Tembikai (watermelon) kek lapis is another cake that is popular in Sarawak. Do not be fooled by the name as it tastes nothing like watermelons. It only takes the appearance of a watermelon, by layering green, yellow and red batter and chocolate chips or raisins as the seeds. Red velvet is also gaining popularity among tourists. Sweet and sour layer cake is made by adding haw flakes between each layer. Most of the popular cakes are made with cheese and chocolates, as people can get turned off by the striking color of the cakes. Others, such as Lapis India (India Layer Cake), Nur Kasih, Sisik Ikan, Cadbury Cheese, Lapis Mutiara, Peppermint, and Hati Pari can be found in the local bakery that specialises in selling kek lapis.
Kek lapis has become an attraction in Sarawak. The most popular place to find different bakery selling them is at Kampung Gersik, Kuching. To get there, you can drive there or by boat from Waterfront with a fee of less than RM1 per way to cross over to the village.