kuih-lapis

Photo by Kenneth Bidi

We think Malaysia wins for the most colourful Eid dessert out there. Kek Lapis is Malaysia’s traditional dessert for Muslim holidays. It’s said to have originated from Indonesia (though in the Indonesian version, layers are often just yellow instead of multicoloured.) Literally, “kek lapis” means “layer cake” in Malay and is made using a process of steaming. First one colour of batter is laid down, steamed for about 5 minutes, then another colour is layered, steamed, then another colour and so on and so on till the cake is made up of many colourful layers. Cakes can usually have up to 20 layers and each colour of layer can have a different flavour. The cake requires a great deal of skill to produce – it’s a delicate process and requires a significant amount of time and patience – not to mention 30 egg yolks for just one small cake pan! For this reason, kek lapis is reserved for special occasions like weddings and Eid (called Hari Raya in Malaysia). 

We love to ask Muslims of different cultures how they celebrate Ramadan and Eid in their culture. Lin from Lin Making Things tells us that kek lapis is indeed a very popular Malaysian treat for Eid. Though because it can be hard to produce, she opts for a simpler and quicker dessert for Eid called “bingka.” She describes bingka as a category of desserts that have a texture that’s somewhere between cake and fudge. Check out her Malay pumpkin fudge cake recipe here.

For many Malaysian Muslims, kek lapis is a holiday staple – something that immediately makes it feel like Eid. It’s also fascinating to know that kek lapis is a traditional food for Christmas as well for Malaysia’s Christian minority, with the layers taking on Christmas colours of course!

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