Making my mother Sri Lankan Love cake has become a tradition.
I like to make it about this time of year, you know, love and Valentines and all that.
The recipe I bake yields a hefty portion.
The Love cake is dense, it’s not designed to be wolfed down in a single session. It’s a cake to savour and relishes to cherish while sipping a cup of Sri Lankan tea.
The origins of Sri Lankan Love Cake
I have made so many Love cakes, yet it’s only now that I have started to dig deeper into the provenance of Love Cake.
When you bite into a Sri Lankan Love cake, eat through centuries of culture, history and personal stories of migration.
We Sri Lankans love our cakes. Sri Lankan cuisine has a repertoire of cake recipes: simple butter cake, love cake, bibikkan, breudher, coco de bolo, bolo folhado, ribbon cake and, of course, Sri Lankan Christmas cake.
These are the most well-known, delve into the pages of Hilda Deutrom’s Ceylon Daily News Cookery Book, and you’ll discover more.
Love cake is beloved by Sri Lankans.
Every family has their personal recipe. It’s the recipe that gets handed down through the generations from grandmothers, mothers, daughters, aunts, and cousins.
My Love cake recipe is a version of my mother’s.
No one really knows the true heritage of Love cake. Some claim its origins are Dutch, while others claim it’s Portuguese. Love cake’s identity is rooted in the Sri Lankan Burgher community, descendants of Portuguese and Dutch rule.
If you take a closer look at the Love cake recipe you realise the ingredients give us a clue as to how Love cake came about – colonial Ceylon and the heady spice notes from cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg nod to the global movement of people and cultures.
I tend to make this cake around Valentine’s day. Love cake is considered to be a celebration cake for birthdays and Christmas, cut into squares (or rectangles) and packaged into wrapping paper.
Love cake has a very distinct texture. Bite through the cake’s thin crispy crust into the soft, moist, crumbly cake flavoured with citrus, rosewater and spices.
The only way to experience Love cake is to make it. Or find someone who will make it for you.
Sri Lankan love cake is seriously rich and seriously sweet. With seven eggs, half a kilo of sugar and jam-packed with cashew nuts, it is irresistible.
You can guarantee every family has their own recipe and you can bet everyone’s mother has the best recipe for love cake.
There are many recipes for love cake with many variations of ingredients from pumpkin preserve to strawberry jam. The main ingredients for love cake are cashew nuts, eggs, sugar and semolina.
Sri Lankan love cake is easy to make
Love cake is easy to make. Essentially it’s a very dense traybake. Most recipes will ask you to separate the eggs. Add the egg yolks to the sugar and mix. Beat the egg whites to glossy peaks and mixed in at the end.
You can’t hurry love cake
I have found that cooking times do vary. Love cake can take from an hour to an hour and a half to bake. Love cake needs patience, you can’t hurry a love cake.
I place the cake on the middle shelf of the oven. You can cover the cake with foil to prevent the surface of the cake from over-baking. Remove the foil for the last twenty minutes of baking.
When your skewer comes out of your Love Cake clean, it’s done. Take it out of the oven, set it aside and let it cool.
ore says this cake was baked to win the hearts of your lover. And just like falling in love, this cake is deliciously intense.
Research credit: “Love Cake: Authenticity and the boundaries of ‘Eurasian’ in the hybrid kitchen by Michelle Barrett.Print
How to make Sri Lankan love cake
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
- Yield: 20 portions 1x
- Category: Tea Time Treat
- Cuisine: Sri Lankan
- 7 egg yolks
- 500g g soft brown sugar
- 400 g raw cashew nuts
- 250g semolina
- 2 tbsp rosewater
- 2 tbsp honey
- Zest of a lemon (grated)
- Zest of an orange (grated)
- A nugget of preserved stem ginger, finely chopped
- 4 cardamom pods (crush and seeds extracted)
- 0.5 tsp nutmeg (finely grated )
- 7 egg whites
- butter (small knob for greasing the baking tin)
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Preheat your oven to 150 degrees.
- Take a 25 x 30cm 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 pieces.
- Take the nuts and the semolina, rose water, honey, lemon and orange zest, ginger and spices and stir into the egg and sugar mix. Mix well to make sure the ingredients are fully incorporated. It will be stiff almost the texture of biscuit dough. That’s fine, it will loosen up once you add the beaten egg whites.
- Take a second large mixing bowl and pour in your egg whites, using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, and whip them until you have glossy stiff white peaks.
- Fold the egg whites into the cake mix before pouring gently into the double-lined 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 thirty 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 it to cool before cutting it into little square portions in the tin. Dust with a little icing sugar. Using the baking parchment gently lift the cake out of the tin before serving.
- Delicious when served with afternoon tea.
- When done the cake will be firm to the touch, but with a light spring.
- if you find that your cake is browning on top and not cooking all the way through try placing aluminium foil over the top. I cover my cake with foil for the first 45 minutes, then bake uncovered for the remaining 45 minutes.
- I have adapted this recipe from the original which can be found in The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon.