JAKARTA: Each layer of the kue lapis legit is believed by Indonesians of Chinese descent to symbolise fortune.
Also often called thousand layer cake, it includes many skinny layers piled on one another, fabricated from butter, margarine, milk and egg.
To add flavour, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg are included, giving the cake a color resembling bacon. Hence, throughout Indonesia’s Dutch colonial interval, the delicacy was often called Spekkoek (bacon cake).
While kue lapis legit is ubiquitous in Jakarta, the cake from Happy Bakery is amongst the most well-known on account of its style, historical past and worth.
For 45 years, folks have been patronising the bakery in South Jakarta when Chinese New Year approaches.
“It is a Chinese tradition here to buy it for the Chinese New Year,” proprietor Liena Gusman instructed CNA.
“The cake symbolises multiple fortunes, that is why it is sought after during Chinese New Year,” she added.
The 20cm x 20 cm cake is obtainable in plain favour, or with prunes, cheese and walnuts as toppings.
It is the butter that distinguishes her cake from opponents, mentioned Mdm Gusman, 60. “We use the finest butter, (imported) Dutch butter,” she mentioned.
The extra butter a variant has, the costlier it turns into.
The most cost-effective variant, which solely makes use of margarine, goes for 445,000 rupiah (US$31). Depending on the quantity of butter used, it might probably value as much as 1,120,000 rupiah. The latter is usually dubbed the costliest kue lapis legit in city.
“The cake is hard to make. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours,” Mdm Gusman mentioned, including that she doesn’t use any preservative.
FROM RATTAN SELLER TO BAKER
Mdm Gusman is the second-generation proprietor of Happy Bakery.
Her father Gunaifi Lay, 88, was a struggling rattan vendor in Palembang, South Sumatra who determined to take his household to Jakarta in 1969 in the hope of incomes a greater residing.
With solely 300 rupiah, Mr Lay rented a room in Central Jakarta for his household of six and had solely cash left to purchase some eggs.
His spouse, an avid baker, made kue bolu (sponge cake) out of the eggs and Mr Lay determined to promote the cake.
Since Mr Lay was a stranger to Jakarta, he took the bus and bought it from one bus terminal to the different.
Over time, gross sales began to enhance and a good friend instructed him to make kue lapis legit because it was extra wanted than sponge cake.
The transfer reaped dividends. Mr Lay later purchased a home in South Jakarta for his household.
They continued to promote truffles to resellers. One day a person knocked on their door saying that smelled the aroma of their lapis legit and wished to purchase one.
That prompted Mr Lay to construct a bakery in entrance of his home in 1976. Since truffles are meant for completely happy events, he named the bakery Happy.
They have by no means used a selected advertising technique to advertise their truffles and assumed their success was by phrase of mouth.
Apart from kue lapis legit, the bakery additionally sells the 3-layered lapis Surabaya, pineapple tarts, Dutch spekulas cookies and others.
As the first baby of 4, Mdm Gusman had been serving to her late mom with baking since she was simply eight years outdated.
Coincidentally, she can be the solely baby who’s in baking. Hence, when her mother and father determined to cross on the enterprise 20 years in the past, Mdm Gusman took over.
She remembers the heyday of the bakery to be throughout Indonesia’s second President Soeharto period when it was nonetheless a customized for folks to provide acquaintances truffles throughout festive days similar to Chinese New Year and Hari Raya.
“I was baking cakes from 3am until 1am,” she reminisced. Their prospects included members of Soeharto’s household and Indonesian celebrities.
STRONG DEMAND FROM FOREIGN VISITORS
After Soeharto’s fall in 1998, the enterprise was nonetheless booming with prospects from all over Indonesia and from overseas similar to Malaysia, Singapore and even the Netherlands desirous to pay money for the conventional cake.
Most of the overseas prospects are from Malaysia and Singapore, she mentioned.
There have been occasions when vacationer buses arrived at the bakery and Malaysian prospects wished to purchase their cake for takeaway. They have been keen to attend for hours, she recalled.
She had many requests to export her truffles overseas however she all the time declined out of worry that the freshness can be compromised, as no preservatives are used.
Since Indonesia has been hit by COVID-19 final March, enterprise has been poor, mentioned Mdm Gusman.
“Now it is very bad. We are just breaking even.”
Before the pandemic, gross sales throughout Chinese New Year would improve tenfold. During the Hari Raya interval, revenue can be up 15 occasions as in comparison with the regular, she mentioned.
However, gross sales have been lower than 1 / 4 of the regular throughout final yr’s Hari Raya. She needed to let go of about half of her 20 employees.
Even although this yr’s Chinese New Year is predicted to be extra subdued than regular on account of COVID-19, Mdm Gusman hopes her loyal patrons will nonetheless purchase her lapis legit.
“They usually buy the cake three days before Chinese New Year. So hopefully this year they will still come.”
Read this story in Bahasa Indonesia here.