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)