Brownie Cheese Layered Cake

One of the sweet delicacies from my hometown, layered cakes or popularly known as ‘Sarawak Kek Lapis (Sarawak Layer Cake)’ are a common sight in Sarawak and even more so when any festive is approaching. What makes Sarawak Layer Cake stands out is its vivid colors and designs. It is exotic, and as the name implies, has many layers and  an endless variety of patterns and motifs inspired by Sarawak’s tribal culture. Making layered cake is no joke, it requires patience!!! A huge amount of time, effort, patience, perseverance, trials and errors are needed to perfect one’s skill in making a decent-looking layered cake. Frankly speaking, I am mostly intrigued and drawn to the challenge in the making of a layered cake rather than enjoying it as a delicacy 🙂 

Layered cake is made either by steaming or grilling in the oven. Each layer is cooked before adding in another layer. Personally, I prefer the steaming method as the steam keeps the cake moist throughout the cooking period.

Of course, not ALL layered cake has to be sophisticated. As I am not so much of an advocate of using artificial colors (Well, that’s what the more sophisticated Sarawak layered cake make use of), why not just keep it simple 😉 Besides, it is better for a beginner to start with a simpler version and not be easily turned away by the amount of time and effort to make a layered cake. When one is more comfortable and skilled with the knows-hows, it might be good to try out a more sophisticated recipe.

For this post, I am sharing a simple recipe in making brownie cheese layered cake. The layers are thicker than the usual layered cake and require less time to cook. It has a total of 5 layers – an alternate layer of brownie and cheesecake. The brownie layer has a rich  bittersweet chocolate taste while the cheese layer is velvety.

There are 2 parts to the ingredients: I. Brownie layer: 3/4 cup (71 g) of cocoa powder, 1 cup (200 g) of sugar, 1 cup (242 g) of evaporated milk, 1/2 cup (158 g) of condensed milk, 1 cup (215 g) of vegetable oil, 3 eggs, 1 cup (148 g) of all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder. II. Cheese layer: 2 packs (8 oz each) of cream cheese, 1/2 cup (100 g) of white sugar, 1/4 cup (37 g) of all purpose flour, 1/4 cup (61 g) of fresh milk and 2 eggs.


To start off, make the brownie layer first. In a medium saucepan, place in the cocoa powder, sugar, evaporated milk, condensed milk and vegetable oil. Use a hand whisk to gently combine the ingredients together. It doesn’t need to be well-mixed at this point.

Place the saucepan onto th stove and cook the chocolate mixture on low heat for 3 – 5 minutes until well-combined. Stir consistently to avoid getting burnt. The mixture should slightly thicken – refer to the photo on the right (as below). Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to a clean mixing bowl. Set aside to cool down. As the brownie is bittersweet and if you happen to have a sweet tooth, you might want to taste the chocolate mixture before removing from the heat and add more sugar to your liking.

Meanwhile, place the 3 eggs into a mixing bowl and beat with a hand whisk until frothy.

Use a spatula to gently fold in the eggs into the chocolate mixture in 3 batches until well-combined. Do not over-mix.

Next sift all-purpose flour and baking powder into the chocolate mixture and use a spatula to fold in gently until just well-combined. Again, don’t over-mix. Set aside for later use.

For the cheese layer, place the cream cheese, sugar, all-purpose flour, fresh milk and egg in a clean mixing bowl.

Use an electric mixer to beat the cheese mixture until smooth, about 5 – 7 minutes.

I am using an 8″ inch springform cake pan.  cover the outer pan with aluminium foil and secure it with a rubber band so that the water doesn’t sip into the pan. Grease and line the pan with parchment paper.

Next prepare a large pot / wok that is large enough to fit the cake pan. Place a steaming rack inside the pot and add in 1/3 full of tap water. Let the water reaches boiling point on high heat.

Bcheese35Divide the chocolate mixture into 3 equal parts and the cheese mixture into 2 equal parts. Place 1 part of chocolate mixture onto the cake pan and tap the cake pan gently to ensure that the mixture is evenly spread. Place the pan into the pot of boiling water. Cover the top of cake pan with foil or wrap the lid with towel so that the sream doesn’t get into the cake. Steam on high heat for 12 minutes or until just cooked.

Next, pour in 1 part of cheese mixture evenly on top of the brownie layer. Use the back of the spoon to spread the mixture evenly. Steam for 10 – 12 minutes or until the cheese layer is just cooked.

It is crucial that each layer is cooked before adding in another layer. And the water in the pot needs to be refilled consistently during the cooking process.

Repeat the process of adding a layer of chocolate mixture and then with the cheese mixture until all the mixture has been used up. Once done with cooking, take the cake pan out from the pot and let it cool down on wire rack. It is normal that the side of the cake appears unevely layered. Once the cake is cooled down, just trim the side of the cake. Wrap the cake with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Consume within 2 weeks.


For a printed verson (in pdf) of this recipe, click Brownie Cheese Layered Cake. Hope you enjoy this recipe and check out my other posts. Till next time 😉

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