Durian Kuih Lapis — Whip It UP!

Durian Kuih Lapis.  Photos: Carol Yen Loy Lee


By Carol Yen Loy Lee
Durian season is now at its peak. How about using the excess fruit to bake kuih lapis? An aromatic twist to the traditional kuih lapis often served during festive periods, this version is rich, buttery, moist and irresistibly shiok!


Total Time: 3½ hours
Difficulty: 4/5
Cost: S$50.00
Servings: >30 pieces

A: Cake Batter

450g salted butter
90g condensed milk
400g durian pulp, about 15 seeds

Mao Shan Wang
Mao Shan Wang or D24 durian cultivars have a more intense durian aroma.


B: Egg Yolk Mixture

20 egg yolks, from 60g eggs
130g castor sugar


C: Flour

150g self-raising flour, sifted


D: Pandan Paste, makes 20ml

15 pandan leaves, washed and cut into sections
30ml water


E: Egg White Mixture

6 egg whites
40g castor sugar




1. Pandan extract: Make it at least 1 day ahead. Combine pandan leaves and water in a blender. Pulse until leaves are finely minced. Using a sieve, strain the mixture. Pour liquid into a jar; discard the solids. Leave extract to settle overnight in the fridge. The next day, pour away the upper layer of water. The remaining green layer is the pandan extract. For this recipe, only 1 tablespoon (15ml) is required. Use up remaining extract within a week.

pandan leaves
Fresh pandan leaves give the best aroma.


2. Preheat oven to 190C. Grease and line the base of a 20 cm-square cake pan with greaseproof paper.

3. Use a cake mixer to beat butter and condensed milk together until light and fluffy. Alternatively, use a whisk to beat both ingredients in a deep mxing bowl. Fold in durian pulp. Mix until it is well incorporated.


Egg yolk mixture
Beating creates air pockets in cake batter and builds volume.


4. Using a spatula, gently fold in flour mixture. Mix until well combined. Set it aside.

5. Beat egg yolks and sugar at high speed until thick and creamy, about 10 minutes.


egg yolks
Insist on fresh eggs for both flavour and colour of cake. Yolks should be golden yellow.


6. Gently pour yolk mixture into butter mixture and use a spatula to blend both mixtures until well combined. Set batter aside.

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7. In another mixing bowl or cake mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar at high speed until firm peaks form – this stage is reached when peaks hold up when the whisk is lifted.


When egg whites form peaks, texture becomes cloud-like. .
When egg whites form peaks, texture becomes cloud-like, yet it holds its shape well.


8. Using a whisk, gently fold in 1/3 of white mixture into yolk mixture – this helps to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining batter. Mix until well combined.


Blending egg white and egg yolk mixture
Whipped egg whites are lightly folded into yolk mixture with gentle strokes using a spatula.


9. Divide batter into 2 batches: 1/3 for pandan-flavour and 2/3 for plain. Add 1 tablespoon pandan extract to the 1/3 portion. Using a spatula, mix until the extract is well-incorporated into the plain batter.


Fresh pandan extract gives the cake an umami lift!


10. Heat up cake pan for 1 minute in the oven – heating it up ensures batter is evenly spread over cake base. Weigh out 90g plain batter for every layer. Pour it into the pan; tilt pan until batter evenly coats bottom of pan. Bake at 180C until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

11. Increase oven temperature to 220C – turn on the grill. Bake second and subsequent layers about 5–6 minutes each. Cook until each layer browns sufficiently – this creates distinct layers.

how to layer kuih lapis
Spread cake batter over the previous baked layer.


12. Bake 2 layers of plain batter before adding 1 pandan layer. Ensure that batter is evenly spread over the previous layer. Press every baked layer with cake press to achieve neat and even layers. Repeat until batter is used up.


Cake press
How to use a cake press – press down firmly and gently to create even layers.


13. For the last layer, lower oven temperature to 190C. Bake whole cake for another 10-12 minutes to ensure it is fully cooked through.


Baked lkuih lapis
Diagonal grid lines enhance the visual appeal of the kuih lapis.


14. Remove cake from oven. Set it aside for 5 minutes. Unmould cake. Place a cooling rack with diagonal lines on top of cake surface. Flip cake upside down onto rack. Allow it cool  an hour for diagonal lines to transfer onto cake surface. After an hour, turn cake right side up and leave it to cool completely on metal grid.

Kuih lapis grid lines
Creating grid lines on cake surface.


15. Using a long slim and sharp knife, trim sides of cake; then cut it into pieces – a sharp knife produces neat and clean layers. For a more intense durian flavour. Allow cake to rest at room temperature for 1 day before serving.


kuih lapis
Cut into squares instead of thick slices.

TIP: Mao San Wang or D24 durian cultivars are ideal as they do not lose much aroma during baking. Store lapis in an airtight container at room temp for 4-5 days. Alternatively, to extend the cake’s shelf life, chill in fridge for up to 3 weeks. If stored in the freezer, it can keep up to 2 months; this is because of the high fat content in eggs and butter.


TECHNIQUE: If there are air bubbles in any layer, use a toothpick to prick them. Then follow with a cake presser to lightly press each baked layer before adding new batter. Lift cake pan a few inches above a kitchen countertop, gently drop it. Air bubbles will burst with the impact as the pan drops. This also helps to even out cake layers.


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