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March 30, 2013

Culinary Conversation: A colorful layered cake for Easter

NEW CASTLE — Spekkoek, or spice cake, is a classic Dutch specialty dessert that involves baking a cake in multiple thin layers.

A thin layer of cake batter is spread in the pan and broiled until firm and golden. Then another layer is spread on top, and so on. The result is a toasty flavor and beautiful, intriguing pattern inside the cut cake.

The technique used in making spekkoek can be used to make an equally beautiful pastel, multilayered Easter cake.

Simply make up a double batch of your favorite white-cake batter, or use two boxes of store-bought white-cake mix. Divide the cake batter into five or more bowls, and tint each with food coloring. Don't add too much; you want the colors to be pastels. For bright lavenders and blues, use a cake batter that calls for egg whites only; the yellow hue contributed by yolks will dull lavender and make blue look turquoise.

We wanted a tall cake with a continuous center, so we used a 4-inch-tall springform pan. Two boxes of cake mix filled it perfectly.

1. Make the batter, color it and spread a thin layer on the bottom of the well-sprayed pan or pans of your choice. Place 8 inches from a preheated low-heat broiler and cook from 1-3 minutes, or until the top is speckled golden. Remove from the oven and carefully add the next layer, spreading the batter just thick enough to cover.

2. Continue this process. If you are making a tall cake and the center begins to jiggle and feel undone, simply switch the oven to 350 degrees and let the cake bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the center feels firm when you tap it gently. Then continue with your layers.

3. After the cake is completely cool, give it a simple coat of white icing. You may press toasted nuts or coconut around the sides, but avoid colorful decorations. It's so interesting inside, that too much color on the outside would be overkill. It's fun to present this simple-looking dessert and watch your guests' eyes light up when you slice it.

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