Baking with love: Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe

Baking with love: Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe

Zinara Rathnayake

Often prepared during Christmas and special occasions, Sri Lankan love cake is a wonderful addition to teatime at home. Growing up in Sri Lanka, a piece of love cake meticulously wrapped in sequin paper is a gift that we all give, and love to receive. Although love cake has a brown, bland and somewhat uninteresting appeal, looks, like they say, can be deceiving. Sri Lankan love cake is a labour of love; it’s rich, delicate and dense; and tied to years of colonial past and folktales of the ethereal island. This uniquely Sri Lankan cake, for many Sri Lankans, is comfort in a slice; it’s a taste that reminds us of home. And now, through Kolamba’s Sri Lankan food delivery in the UK, you can order home some Sri Lankan love cake for your teatime.

Sri Lankan food is an amalgam of influences, of cultures and communities who walked through the island and others who settled down. Much like our curries, sambals and condiments that derive their influences from the diverse ethnicities and religious groups across the country, Sri Lankan desserts are also inseparable from the island’s past clad with a series of migrations and European invasions. The love cake is no different.

Rich, heavy and gooey in the middle, but with a slightly burnt citrus peel crust, the history of love cake runs back to Portuguese colonial days in the island in the 16th and 17th centuries. Although its origins are murky, one belief is that Sri Lankan women baked this cake to win the hearts of foreign suitors. Others say that the name comes from the labour of love involved in making this sweet treat as the traditional preparation involved hours and days to bake it from scratch. Despite these interesting tales, the use of puhul dosi or pumpkin preserve in the recipe hints at the Portuguese influence—it bears resemblance to doce de chila or Portuguese squash preserve. But it's the addition of the Sri Lankan touch, with aromatic Indian Ocean spices, that makes it quite the treat.

Fragrant and spicy, floral and nutty, Sri Lankan love cake carries wonderfully different notes and scents, and textures in one bite. It’s slightly crunchy, but moist in the middle, and toasted semolina adds a subtle coarseness. Creamy, rich cashews compliment the sweet pumpkin, while fragrant and nutty spices blend in with the floral notes of the rose water. Added to this is the tangy zest of the lime rind creating an unassuming but tempting merge of flavours and scents. It’s much like the island itself: sweet but tangy; floral but spicy. 

While you can treat yourself to this quintessentially Sri Lankan dessert cake at home by ordering it through our Sri Lankan food delivery option throughout the UK, here’s the recipe for Kolamba's favourite Sri Lankan love cake that can win hearts. Once baked, don’t forget to brew a cup of Sri Lankan tea to serve alongside a slice of this inviting treat. 


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