Sri Lanka is known more for its firey curries than it is for its cakes. But this cake is very Sri Lankan. Its origin is rooted in the country’s Portuguese colonial past. Sri Lankan love cake is seriously rich, with seven eggs no less. Incredibly sweet – with half a kilo of sugar. And superbly nutty – jam-packed with cashew nuts. But Sri Lankan love cake is so incredibly irresistible.
I was flicking through my collection of Sri Lankan cookbooks when I landed on the recipe for love cake. Reading the recipe took me right back in my mother’s kitchen tasting this cake for the very first time. It wasn’t like any cake I had ever tasted. Sri Lankan love cake is a rich, sweet, dense cake. The combination of rosewater, cardamom, nutmeg and lemon zest gives this cake a distinctly Middle Eastern quality.
Win your lover’s heart with Sri Lankan love cake
Folklore says this cake was baked to win the hearts of your lover, and just like falling in love this cake is deliciously intense.
Take a 20cm square cake tin, grease with butter, then double line with non-stick baking parchment allowing enough parchment to overhang over the edge of the baking tin.
In a large mixing bowl beat the egg yolks and the sugar together until you have a deliciously creamy butterscotch looking concoction.
In a food processor, pulverise the cashew nuts until they are crushed into small nutty pieces.
Now stir in the semolina, the crushed cashew nuts, rose water, honey, lemon zest, and spices.
Mix well until the nutty mixture is fully incorporated into the buttery sugar concoction.
Take a second large mixing bowl and pour in your egg whites and whip them in a frenzy (with the aid of a hand-held mixer or using the wire attachment for your stand mixer) until you have glossy stiff white peaks.
Fold in the egg whites into the cake mix before pouring gently into the double lined, square cake tin.
Place the cake tin onto the middle shelf of your pre-heated oven, and cook for around an hour to an hour and twenty minutes. Or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.The cake will be done when it is firm, yet springy to touch, and no wobble from any uncooked cake mix!
Take the cake out of the oven and leave to cool before cutting into little square portions (4 x 5) in the tin.Using the baking parchment gently lift the cake out of tin before serving.
Delicious when served with afternoon tea.
When done the cake will be firm to touch, but with a light spring. However, if you find that your cake is browning on top but not cooking all the way through try place aluminium foil over the top.
The original recipe cites an hour cooking time, however, my cake did take longer to pass the skewer test.
I have adapted this recipe from the original which can be found in The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon.