Category Archives: Cake

Anthill Cake

The Black Delight

Cobwebs everywhere here.

I don’t want this place to be haunted, so I might as well just post anything. Well, not “any” -thing. Actually this is one of my favorite.. err, cake? I’m not sure this is really a cake, actually.

Before digging into recipe and all exaggeration I naturally do on food, let me tell you how my baking life is going on lately. I still bake, but sadly after baking I usually lost appetite to take photos. Yep, the down-side of passion-turns-into-a-job hits me with no mercy. I take photos for books and do it for demonstration while teaching. I have no time and energy to do personal photo session anymore. Not with the same enthusiasm I had in my early days.

I always have so many things to share, though. Not only baking stories, but also everything from taking photos within budget to my favorite tea with honey every afternoon. Remember when I still posted about my afternoon tea, or my sweet mango for breaking my fasting? How I miss my old me. For some reason, I envy her.

But hey, I won’t let anything get in the way. You know what I’m gonna do? I’ll just cheat. Ya-ha, a white-cheat. I’ll just take one photo at a time of my favorite recipes from the book I was working on, and write a story about it. I did try the recipes anyway and I was the one who took photos for the book, so it is practically no different than doing my personal baking and photo session. Hah. Problem solved. Now all I have to do is find the time to actually do that, not only plan to do that. *sigh*

Now let’s get into business. This caramel cake is way too special to not being mentioned as one of the most unique Indonesian culinary treasures. Because I can’t see anywhere else in the world a cake with this texture, taste and weird baking method except in Indonesia. We’ve been inherited it from our ancestors and it is one of the most favorites in every kids’ mind that they carried along for a life time.

When editing the content of the book, I was having trouble categorizing this cake. I mean, the texture is way far from cake we’ve known. The batter is so runny you won’t believe it would ever turn out to be a wonderful soft yet chewy cake. While the method is not rocket science, cooking abundant sugar into a pool of deep amber-copper caramel first is not something you found everyday in a cake recipe. Maybe never. With total ignorance I labeled the category: Cake That Is Not Cake. Seriously. *yea, my work is my playground*

*If you’re curious enough, yes, there is another cake fell into that category. Lapis Beras or Rice Layered Cake. That makes two of them. Oh, how weird.*

One obvious thing about Indonesian food is they are often not pretty to the eyes. I mean, how can you make pretty of Opor Ayam? I’m talking about the Sumatra version, the one that is pale brown sometimes turn into grey thing. How can you convey the deliciousness, the extremely creamy gravy that caresses your taste bud and your tummy through a photo? You take hundreds of them, what you have are hundreds of grey ugly mound. How about that blacked out Rawon? Or the mushy Mento and Jongkong? The shabby Krasikan? Oh, my. This Caramel Cake is no different. The color is dark shiny copper. Beautiful, but a challenge to take.

The taste and texture. You won’t find anywhere in the surface of this earth a cake that tastes and feels like this. The caramel turns into a bed of sponges full or vertical holes, like an anthill, hence the name. Springy to the touch, feels really nice in your mouth, and tastes oh so good. Like slurping a bowl of caramel candy soup, that’s what it is. Even Jamie Oliver will scream, “Ow-bloody-wow!”

Until now I can’t remember at what point exactly I was starting to care about my country and its legacy. I didn’t really care before if one food is Indonesian or not, and if it is, I didn’t feel anything except appreciation and gratitude for the food in general. Not a hint of pride, let alone feeling the obligation to bear the flag of a country with amazingly rich culinary treasure.

So here it is, my fellow humans. A simple Indonesian nibble. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face, from making it to eating it. It’s a promise and you know I keep mine.

Continue reading Anthill Cake


Chocolate.. seriously

Chocolate for Adults
I watched this episode of Jamie Oliver making this flourless chocolate cake and I couldn’t let go. After trying it, I lost words. I don’t know how to explain the feel, the taste, the experience. It was just.. different.
Then I found a review made by a woman named Elaine, and she spoke all the words I need.

“It has been years since I ate chocolate cake, and I must admit I approached this chocolate torte with much trepidation. Would it taste as good as the chocolate cakes I remember?
The answer is No.
Its much better than any chocolate cake I have ever eaten before!
The first impression that I got was chocolate. Not the sweet pappy chocolate flavour that you get when you buy “ordinary” chocolate cake, but a rich, dark bitter-sweet chocolate. A really Serious chocolate. Chocolate for Adults only, with an 18 certificate. Then the more subtle flavour and texture of nuts creeps into your awareness. Not strong, but subtle, and they gave the cake that bit more “bite” than pure chocolate could.
This isn’t a cake for eating when the munchies strike. It’s for eating when the curtains are closed, the candles are lit, the music is soft, and the mood is just right. It positively cries out for lashings of double cream – not whipped cream, but poured extravagantly over the top of a warmed portion, and allowed to soak in. It is almost too much cake for anyone to bear, and I defy anyone to tell it from a sugar and carb laden version, except, perhaps, that it’s better. ”

Elaine, I couldn’t agree more.
Continue reading Chocolate.. seriously

Old Photo to Welcome Ramadhan: Chiffony Rainbow

Chiffony Rainbow
I bumped into an old photos I took, dated 2 April 2008. It was taken with my old pocket digicam, and I thought it was not that bad that I had to keep it underground, heh? Besides, this chiffony rainbow was so good, keeping the recipe for myself would be such a huge crime to the world.
I was impatient that day, I underbaked it a little bit. It’s still good, although not as firm as if I do the time right. Make sure you follow the time mentioned in the recipe.
Also, I didn’t mix the rainbow batter the way the recipe instructed me to. I simply poured them layer by layer. Don’t ask why. Bonehead was my middle name, every now and then.
The texture was incomparable. So soft, so cloud-like. The fragrance was superb: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, pandan. The pandan made it asian. If you’re not into anything leafy, you can make it a true neapolitano by omitting pandan paste.
So, here is to welcome Ramadhan. I will be tied up doing the photography of the next NCC book during the whole month, I just hope I still have time to post among the helter-skelter. Hopefully sharing the pain of doing step-by-step photos, which is famous as “photographer’s nightmare”.
Please accept my apology for anything I’ve done that might have hurt any soul. The fault is mine and mine alone. Have a blessing Ramadhan. Allah allow us.
Continue reading Old Photo to Welcome Ramadhan: Chiffony Rainbow

For The (Indonesian) Woman In You

On The Fork
An adage said,
every woman should make bread at least once in her lifetime.
I said,
every Indonesian woman should bake Lapis Legit,
once if she’s lucky, many times to polish her layering skill
Now as Eid Mubarak is approaching in approximately 3 months, a time frame you barely notice to be flying very fast, we all have a perfect reason to sweat ourselves learning to bake this gorgeous rustic looking cake all day. Yes, that’s how long it takes. Along with 60 eggs, that is.
There are many variety of recipes for Lapis Legit (Lapis = layer; Legit = scrumptious, very tasty). The one that yields densed texture, spongy texture, the one using food coloring to achieve more egg-yellowy tone, the one using egg yolks only, with the whites, and we haven’t even started with its modification. There are Lapis Legit with different toppings: prunes, almond, raisin; different layers and flavors: chocolate, mocha, pandan, cheese; different shape and pattern: rolled, batik, tikar (braided mat), etc.
All comes down to the basic ingredients and technique: abundant butter, abundant eggs, just enough sugar, a little flour, a good teaspoonful of spekkoek spice, baked in an oven using mostly upper heat, layer by layer. This basic formula was used by our great-great-great-… grandmothers when they invented this indulging treat with so very traditional means. They only had firewood, tin oven, some bowls, and wooden spoon. Yet they invented and mastered such a magnificent nibble that combines everything good in life in one single slice: incomparable deliciousness for your tongue, heavenly aroma for your nose, stunning intricate layers for your eyes. And the whole day labor intensive work for the patience in you! Aren’t they incredible, our grandmothers? Let’s send them our most beautiful prayer tonight. For without them, there wouldn’t be a national treasure called Lapis Legit. They certainly deserve a beautiful prayer.
About the magical thing called spekkoek. Spekkoek spice is a blend of everything nice, apparently. Cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger, nutmeg,.. God knows what else. The spices growing on our motherland, Nusantara, the land of spices. This spice is the heart of Lapis Legit. The magic dust you put in that makes it fit for a king. To quote Anthony Bourdain, “There’s a reason why they fought war over spices, you know.” I know.
Now, onto the recipe. I used the most basic one. The one written by Hadi Tuwendi, one of Indonesian baking maestros, in parallel with Mrs. Liem, or Nyonya Liem as she often be called. He was once the man behind Holland Bakery, a well established bakery in Jakarta with respected reputation throughout the decades. So, you’re in good hand.
Continue reading For The (Indonesian) Woman In You


Chocolate Steamed Yoghurt Cup
This is a not so actual event. I made this months ago, never remembered I even took a picture. Since most of my laziness to blog was because I didn’t care enough to take photos of the food I made, I figured out this baby deserves a publication.
Well, if you’re an Indonesian, or at least, a southeast-asian, pretty sure you’re familiar with Indonesian Steamed Cake, a.k.a. Bolu Kukus. It looks somehting like this:
Pretty Steamed Cupcake
Steamed cupcake Indonesian Steamed Cake
The texture of this cake is soft and cloudy, light and sweet.
And you must also know the distinguished Indonesian cup cake, a.k.a. Kue Mangkok. They look like this. They could vary in color, though. Red, green, not blue.
Unlike its sister, Bolu Kukus, Kue Mangkok is rather chewy, rich and densed. It boasts the distinguished aroma of fermented cassava used in it, giving a hint of sour and sweet that tingles your tastebud craving for more.
One afternoon, they were both merged. Only because I whipped up Bolu Kukus, then decided to use up my homemade yoghurt ’cause it’s getting too sour –time for me to make a brand new batch. The result: texture of Bolu Kukus, taste and aroma of Kue Mangkok.
I guess it took everything good from each kind and combine it in one cup. Although I’m not sure what good the invention was for, except to deceive people who expect Bolu Kukus, but then unavoidably scratch their heads with unavoidable frowns, finding out they didn’t get Bolu Kukus. It’s Kue Mangkok instead, already in their chewing mouth! Gotcha!
Me, I just hate to see my yoghurt gone bad.
Continue reading Merged!