Sri Lankan Love Cake

Traditionally made for festive occasions, a Sri Lankan Love Cake is a rich and squidgy cake packed with exotic flavour. The cake dates back to the 15th century when the Portuguese controlled large portions of the island. However the locals just did not adopt a foreign cake but created one of their own, fusing European flavours of lemon and honey with nutmeg, cinnamon, cashews and rosewater. Buttery and moist and perfumed with a heady mixture of scents it is strangely comforting and impossible to stop eating.


  • 250 g cashew nuts (chopped fine)
  • 300 g sugar
  • 250 g butter
  • 250 g semolina (coarse)
  • 250 g pumpkin preserve (chopped fine)
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup honey or golden syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tblsp brandy
  • 1 tblsp rosewater
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • grated rind of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 150°C. Grease a 20 cm square cake tin. Line and grease the tin. Lightly roast semolina and cashew nuts. Take pan off the fire, add chopped up butter to pan and mix well until butter has dissolved. Cool. Beat egg whites and set aside. Beat egg yolks and sugar well. Add semolina, nuts and butter until mixed. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Finally fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake until done (approximately 1-1/2 hours). A skewer inserted a few inches from the edge of the pan must come out clean but the middle must still be moist. If cake starts to brown too quickly, cover top with foil or baking paper. As this is a dense moist cake, a tin of water placed on the bottom shelf of the oven will prevent it from getting too dry. This cake has a crust and should not be taken out of the pan until quite cold or the crust will crack. It’s best eaten two days after being made (if you can wait that long).