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Sri Lankan Love Cake

Sri Lankan Love Cake (Photo by Chintana Wilamuna/flickr)

Sri Lankan Love Cake (Photo by Chintana Wilamuna/flickr)

A legacy from the Portuguese who once ruled the island of Ceylon as it was then called. There are as many recipes for Love Cake as there are cooks, and as many strong opinions on just how to achieve a soft texture in the centre while having a firm and chewy exterior. The secret is in slow baking and the correct size of cake tin.


6 large eggs
500 g/1 lb/2 cups caster sugar
150 g/5 oz unsalted butter
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons rose water or 1/4 teaspoon rose essence
finely chopped zest of 1 lime or lemon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
250 g/8 oz raw cashews
250 g/8 oz coarse semolina
125 g/4 oz crystallised winter melon or pineapple (optional)


Line a 25 x 30 cm (10 x 12 in) cake tin with baking paper. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C (300 degrees F).

Beat eggs and sugar until thick and light. Add softened butter and honey, rose water, lime zest, nutmeg and cardamom. Beat well. Chop cashews coarsely and stir in together with the semolina and crystallised fruit. Turn into prepared tin and bake in a slow oven for

1 hour or until pale golden on top. If the cake starts to brown too quickly, cover loosely with foil. Do not use the skewer test, because if a skewer comes out clean it means the cake is overcooked by Sri Lankan standards. It will taste good, but there won't be the moist centre which is typical of this confection. Leave cake in tin to cool. Cut into small squares to serve.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)

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We use pumpkin preserve instead of crystallized winter melon or any other fruit.I think thats the original ingrediant since Im a Sri Lankan.

I remember my grandmother used to make this cake every Christmas - I think my aunts on both sides of the family made it too. It truly is a gorgeous cake with a heavenly fragrance. If you can manage to eat three pieces and enjoy them, I think it might be well worth suffering the tummy upset!

This cake turned out lovely. I also preheated the semolina and just when it got warm, took it off the pan and mixed it with butter and kept to cool off before starting with the other ingredients to the mixing...
Don't you have to seperate the egg?
Hi, I actually made Charmaine's other recipe with out the butter and was very young at the time and wanted my Love cake hit so didn't read properley and didn't seperate the eggs but made them light and fluffy and it turned out fine. These days I still use recipe 1 from her book and it looks great with its 3 layers, yes no one mentions this but it's true the top is the meringue, middle layer is just plain and the base has the nuts, I have made this recipe but the other one is less work 1 hour 45 minutes in the overn and let it cool in the tin on top of the bench. I usually lift the cake out of the tin with the bakeing paper when its totally cool and wrap it with plastic leaving the paper still intact or pop it into an air tight container pop into the fridge if you are in over 22C cos of the eggs etc and its food safe and keeps better, when cutting and serving I reccomend 1 and a half to 2 cm pieces square but don't eat more than 3 bits at a go as this can give you an upset tummy.
you have a good receipe. i like your receipe