Origins and Etymology:
A delicious legacy of the former Dutch East Indies, the traditional Dutch-Indonesian treat is an extremely harmonious blend of Eastern and Western traditions. According to Het Nederlands Bakboek author Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra, recipes for spekkoek have long been appearing in Dutch cookbooks. In fact, Recepten van de Haagsche Kookschool (1899) features a recipe for spekkoek that uses a whole nutmeg and 65 cloves! You'll find many varieties of this cake in Asia today, ranging from versions with pandan leaf to tropical fruits, but the traditional spiced version remains popular in the Netherlands.
Unlike most cakes, spekkoek is not prepared using conventional oven settings, but instead is made in a grill oven or under the grill. It is a labor of love, because each thin layer has to set before the next layer of batter can be added. These alternating layers of light and dark batter combine to create a striated cake, which looks a bit like streaky bacon (hence the Dutch name, which translates as 'bacon cake'). In Indonesia, the cake is known as spekkuk (a corruption of the Dutch name), but also as lapis legit or kue lapis.
Bake your own: