Sarawak’s Labour of Love – Kek Lapis

Whenever I board my plane departing from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur, my eyes has never failed to glance on a few passengers carrying carefully wrapped little packages along with them, and I would definitely guessed it right, it’s Sarawak’s labour of love; Kek Lapis (Layer cake). I never cared about it too much when I was younger, and I took it for granted, until one day I saw my aunt baking it on fasting month and from there my love grows for Kek Lapis. She has her own special room made only for this, and  I remember she was happy to have it back then, I guessed it might have been her little sanctuary.

Secretly I will stand behind the door everytime she prepares all the ingredients and mix it altogether in her stainless steel kitchen mixer, I looked at her religiously as she adds colour on the batter, and carefully pour it into a baking pan, or sometimes on a much slimmer ones, and then she will bake it at a certain amount of time, occasionally turning its side making sure it is being baked evenly. I giggled quietly whenever she checks her cakes, quickly poking at the air bubbles inside the baking pan, but little that I know, it was actually not a good sign. While waiting for her cakes to cool down, once or twice she will sneakily peek at her recipe book to see whether she gets her arrangement right on the cakes design. She will then eventually acknowledge my existence at this particular process because cutting the cakes into eight long pieces requires another extra pair of eyes. Then she arranges the cut cakes according to the design, and glue it together with flavoured jam. It took me more than three cakes to get the right amount of jam or else, everything will be a mess when you roll the cakes. In the end, it totally comes down to our passion that will drive us to create a truly delectable, exquisite layer cake.

the cut and paste process *photo courtesy from @razzcakes

I learned a lot from my aunt, and she told me that I got potential if I put my time, and effort into it, but time is always not enough for me because there are no short cuts in this layer cake making business, everything must be precisely perfect according to the recipe, and design. Once you missed a layer, you will have to find a way to redesign your cake from scratch. As I have mentioned it before, it is a labour of love. Despite the labourious work, this traditional cake is still famously done until today, be it for your own consumption or for business purposes.

And whether it is Raya/Eid or not, Sarawakians love their kek lapis so much. It has become accustomed to us, and we are associated to it for the rest of our lives. It is the ‘must have’ item in every single houses in Sarawak during any festive seasons. Until today, I enjoy visiting my friends and family’s houses very much especially during Raya, where I could indulge the many different flavours of kek lapis, and adore its intricate designs, and of course for some inspirations too.

I can’t wait to balik kampung.

My personal favourite, Steamed Kek Atiparek 


p/s: All pictures are taken from different accounts in instagram, feel free to check them out (just click on the picture peeps), and this is not a paid review 😉


3 thoughts on “Sarawak’s Labour of Love – Kek Lapis

  1. Yes, I imagine there would be some patience involved in making these layer cakes. I love the colors. The different cakes look good enough to eat right here on the page. I’m not a baker, but I’m fascinated by the time and effort bakers put into their work. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cake made with such creativity layer by layer here in the US. Your images of these cakes make them visually interesting and I would be motivated to try one or two just because I like their lovely presentation.


    1. The level of patience are totally being tested when baking/steaming these cakes. It takes almost 14-16hours to make this elaborated cakes 🙂 It would be great if you could taste it, and I believe there are some of Sarawakians living in the US and might not be able to come back for Eid. Usually Malaysian embassy/consulate (Washington D.C, New York, and L.A) over there will organize an Eid celebration for our fellow Malaysians abroad. That will the best time to taste our Malaysian dishes, and Eid will be around the 6th/7th July this year.

      Liked by 1 person

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