Malaysians are foodies .. this time kek lapis.

More on the ‘all Malaysians are foodies’ theme.

It’s traditional in Sarawak, Malaysia’s largest state, to serve Kek Lapis for religious or cultural celebrations such as Hari Raya, Christmas, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and the harvest festival, Gawai Dayak, as well as for birthdays and weddings.

"too pretty to eat"
“too pretty to eat”

As eat my way through Borneo, one fabulous meal at a time, I’m introduced to Sarawak Kek Lapis. These layer cakes can have plain layers or be fancy with patterns, motifs, or shapes. All ‘must have at least two colours’ I’m told by the guide on the city tour when we visit one of Kuching’s many cake shops and sample some with names such as Blueberry Cheese, Swiss Roll, and the green and brown, Lapis Oreo.

These are no ordinary cakes, firm, moist, buttery, and not too sweet.

‘It’s hard to eat’ says an Italian writer as I photograph him, ‘they are so beautiful.

They are cooked layer by millimetre layer, with each layer in the oven for only five minutes before being taken out, spread with butter and the next layer is put on and back into the oven – and repeated up to twenty times.

High heat, high yolk, and high butter content means these cakes keep well too.  Considered a perfect gift by tourists from around Asia, cakes are also exported to Europe, North America, the Middle East and especially, Singapore.

Make sure you buy one, or some, from any of the sellers along the Kuching waterfront.

Numerous designs for sale in shops and stalls
Numerous designs for sale in shops and stalls

Kuching … sorry to say goodbye

What do you call a city whose name means cat, but is not named after a cat? A city that has two mayors with the same powers, wages and responsibilities and who can carry out them differently ; who has a pedestrian mall called India Street but very few Indian shops on it …  well I call it wonderful.

This city, the capital of Sarawak, East Malaysia, Borneo, is beguiling and it’s easy to see why people stay longer than they planned – just as I have.

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The waterfront has wind and solar panels to light the many lights along its length and across the river, the Astana is lit up like a Christmas tree – day and night locals and tourists promanarde it’s length, junks, water taxis, and  a large tourist boat give people either passage home across the water or  river level view of the city.

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They also make wonderful layered cakes that are sought after by all Malaysians when they visist from West, or penunsula, Malaysia, taking them home as gifts for friends or family. I will write a blog or article about this Sarawakian  skill, and now tradition, when  I return to New Zealand

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