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Traditional Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe

Updated recipe in 2021. My mum always trials different recipes and this is her latest version of the recipe.

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Traditional Sri Lankan Love cake recipe, made with love and made for loved ones. This is one cake that we can truly call Sri Lankan. This cake is specially made during Christmas time, rich in cashew nuts and puhul dosi also known as pumpkin preserve, Sri Lankan spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, rose water. It’s just so rich & flavourful that it gets quite addictive once you eat it.

Traditional Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe

My Mum’s Secret Sri Lankan Love cake recipe

As a child growing up, this is one cake my mum made every Christmas and no one, in my opinion, no hotel, no relative, no catering business could beat her love cake. Am I biased because she is my mother? hmmm, maybe but I also truly understand flavours and can tell you when a love cake is good. It’s made with so much love, that even when I make it, I still feel something is missing, and that’s my mothers love that goes into this cake.

Until today when we go home for Christmas, I would ask my mum to make me a huge batch of love cake to take back overseas so I can eat:) although I tell her I am going to distribute it with my friends, I end up eating it all hah hahaha she still thinks I give her love cake to people but how can I when it is soooo good.

I still have memories of my mother making this cake, I wait eagerly till the end to lick the bowl and the batter, mind you my mum’s love cake was loaded with brandy, no wonder I was happy as a kid always hahahhaha. She would start the process about 1 week in advance by hand cutting, not chop!!! but hand cutting the cashew nuts to tiny pieces, then she would hand-cut!!! not grate the lime rind, but hand-cut into tiny pieces.

Then the puhul dosi is also hand cut and she makes a huge batch so you can imagine how many kilos and kilos of cashews, puhul dosi and lime rind gets hand cut. To be honest, I don’t have time to be hand cutting, I simply chop them roughly and grate the lime, probably that’s what’s missing in my cake, that love and passion she puts into her love cake.

When I asked my mum to give me her recipe, she decided to give me new information every time I baked the cake and when I complained that it was not like hers, she would tell me bits and pieces that she would do to get a perfect love cake. So I ended up making 5 cakes to get the perfect texture. Well, she is very protective of her recipe and I am about to give you that secret recipe.

Sri Lankan Love cake history

We all eat love cake but do we know where it really comes from? it is said that this cake was an invention when the Portuguese colonised Sri Lanka. The Portuguese men at that time did not have Portuguese women to marry, so they married the Sinhalese and Tamil women who was the two largest ethnic groups at that time, which was also encouraged by the government in that era.

It is said that this love cake was born as a result of the Sri Lankan women trying to win the hearts of the Portuguese contenders.

We know this cake is influenced by the Portuguese because of the puhul dosi used, which is actually a fruit that originated from Portugal. But Sri Lankan women in that era made this cake using all the spices and nuts that were popular in Sri Lanka and loaded the cake with rose essence, almond essence, cashews and all the spices like cinnamon, nutmeg which was very popular in Sri Lanka making it a bold and truly Sri Lankan cake.

Because this cake was an invention of the Sri Lankan women trying to win the hearts of its contenders, the name ‘love cake’ was born. Just like love, it’s sweet, delicious, rich, highly addictive, it is fragrant and intoxicating therefore the cake definitely lives up to its name.

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Traditional Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe

Traditional Sri- Lankan Love cake recipe ingredients

There are a million recipes on the internet and millions of ways to do this cake. While respecting everyone’s recipes passed down through generations. There are a few ingredients that are compulsory in a Sri Lankan love cake. They are:
Puhul dosi ( pumpkin preserve) is non-negotiable
Cashew nuts – Very important
Flavour essences like vanilla, almond and rose water
Spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg which now comes in a packet called allspice or mixed spice

What Ingredients to buy from Sri Lankan shops for the Love cake

Ingredients to buy from Sri Lankan shops
Ingredients to buy from Sri Lankan shops

Sri Lankan Love cake ingredients

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Different ways to do traditional Sri- Lankan Love cake recipe

Now I have seen, tasted many recipes and some may not use puhul dosi, for me this definitely needs to be there, the taste is not the same without it.

Some recipes are dry and have a butter cake-like texture; that’s definitely not what you want. it needs to be rich, heavy, gooey in the middle and chunky. A little bit of a crusty and burnt top is exactly what you need to expect.

Follow my recipe to the T and I can guarantee, you will end up with a super delicious intoxicating and highly addictive love cake.

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Traditional Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe

How long in advance to make traditional Sri Lankan love cake?

Now the love cake definitely gets better with time, but unlike the Christmas cake, it cannot be kept for a long time. I make my love cake around the 15th of December, and keep it until the middle of January. But I also use brandy in my love cake, which helps with the shelf life.

How to store traditional Sri Lankan love cake

Store in a cool dry place away from sunlight for up to 4 weeks at room temperature covered in an airtight container. I have actually stored mine for even 2 months, but all climates are different so 4 weeks will be ideal. Don’t refrigerate as it will not be the same.

Sri Lankan Love cake with pumpkin preserve

There are different names for pumpkin preserve, melon candy, puhul dosi. Make sure to buy the one that is dry, not the one that is soaked in syrup. Many countries have this available in speciality Sri Lankan shops. I have heard that in some countries it is hard to find it, I have also seen amazon or eBay sell them as well, just do a quick google search and I am sure you will find it. I use Araliya puhul dosi which is the best.

Can I make an eggless traditional Sri Lankan Love cake

No, you cannot, I am sorry to disappoint any of my readers, substituting ingredients from an authentic love cake recipe will not be the same, and I don’t want to destroy this beautiful cake by giving alterations

Can I make the Sri Lankan Love cake without alcohol?

This year I have taken off the brandy in my recipe as my mum has updated her recipe and she believes it tastes better without brandy and I gave it a try and it does, so I have taken off the brandy.

Why does my cake break and fall apart

If you over toast the semolina, it will become very hard to cut or handle, as it will break into small pieces easily, so make sure the semolina is only lightly roasted, The semolina doesn’t have to turn brown.

Check out my other Christmas food recipes here

Watch how to make traditional Sri Lankan love cake recipe

Step by Step recipe how to make traditional Sri Lankan love cake recipe

Traditional-Sri-Lankan-Love-Cake-Recipe

Traditional Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe

Sri Lankan love cake, gooey and moist in the middle with a crusty top
5 from 1 vote
SMS
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Calories: 635kcal

Servings: 10 people

Equipment

  • Oven
  • Cake mixer

Ingredients

Step 1

  • 225 g Semolina
  • 225 g Butter Unsalted
  • 28 g Rose essence/ Rosewater

Step 2

  • 400 g White sugar
  • 12 Egg yolks
  • 1 Lime rind grated

Flavouring and Spices

  • 2 tsp Allspice/Mixed spice
  • 28 g vanilla essence
  • 28 g Almond essence
  • 3 tbsp Beeshoney or golden syrup

Final ingredients

  • 360 g Puhul dosi/ Pumpkin preserve/melon candy Chopped
  • 300 g Cashew nuts Chopped
  • 70 ml Brandy
  • 120 ml Milk Fresh

Instructions

  • Line one 25x25cm square baking tray with 3 baking sheets. Preheat oven to 150C (Conventional Oven)
    Make sure to use a tray size similar to the above dimensions, because the height of the cake is very important to get the correct texture.( This recipe will fit in one square tray size of 25cmx25cm)

Step 1 (Semolina & butter mixture)

  • Add semolina to a pan and roast it on a low heat for about 5-6 minutes until it is lightly roasted and has a slight brown colour like sand, take it off the heat and let it cool down
  • Place the roasted semolina in a bowl add butter & rose essence and mix well with a wooden spoon until well incorporated. leave aside

Step 2 (Egg yolk and sugar mix)

  • In a mixing bowl with the whisk attachment add the egg yolks, sugar and mix well until fluffy and creamy, you will see the mixture is lightly pale colour and has doubled in size. finally, add the lime rind, mix well in a low speed and leave aside.
  • From this point, everything needs to be folded by hand, Add in the semolina and butter mixture into the egg mixture ( Step 1 +Step 2) and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  • Add mixed spice (Allspice), bees honey, brandy, pumpkin preserve, cashew nuts, vanilla essence and almond essence, milk and mix well, until well mixed
  • Beaten egg white is optional (6 egg whites) some people may be used to the cakey texture of the love cake, if you prefer to do it that way, you can add the egg whites at last but I actually like the chunky and gooey texture, but it is chunky and is not compact therefore a little difficult to cut. depending on your preference, you can add egg white or omit it.

Baking the cake ( A crucial part of the recipe)

  • Pour the mixture into the prepared lined baking trays and bake for 1- 1 and a half hours until the cake is cooked. If the cake becomes brown halfway through place a foil paper on the top to stop it from browning and bake the required amount of time.
    * Do not over bake the cake, then it becomes dry, check the cake every 10 minutes when 1 hour is passed. It is ok to slightly under bake the cake and off the oven and leave it inside the oven, it will bake a little bit more for the heat in the oven and cool down over night.
    My cake, I covered it after 1 hour with a foil, then I bake for another 20 mins ( 1 hour 20 mins in total) leave it overnight to cool down inside the oven. Every oven is different, so make sure to check the cake often.
    Slightly under baking will ensure the gooey and moist centre.
  • Once cooked, take it out of the oven let it cool inside the tray before cutting into desired pieces. The cake tastes better after 2 days of baking.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 635kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 284mg | Sodium: 1731mg | Potassium: 293mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 895IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 4mg
Nutrition Facts
Traditional Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 635 Calories from Fat 342
% Daily Value*
Fat 38g58%
Saturated Fat 16g100%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 15g
Cholesterol 284mg95%
Sodium 1731mg75%
Potassium 293mg8%
Carbohydrates 57g19%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 12g24%
Vitamin A 895IU18%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 65mg7%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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57 thoughts on “Traditional Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe”

  1. I’m so excited to try this recipe for Christmas this year. Please can you let me know the mixture ingredients and qty for all spices? Thank you

  2. Chinta Ratnayake

    5 stars
    Hi Rachi, Thank you so much for sharing your recipe for a beloved Sri Lankan cake. My question: can I make it without the puhul? Don’t have any. Thanks!

    1. Hi Chinta,
      No, you cannot puhul dosi is a MUST for love cake, I have seen many recipes without the puhul dosi in but that will not a give you the best end result. Let me know where you live, I can probably help you to find a shop to buy it?

    1. Hi, all information is written in the article, on how long to keep it, how to store it. Please have a read as it is not a short answer. Maximum of 4 weeks, depending on the climate.

  3. Hi Rachi, yes I’m planning to make my All Spice Mix. Appreciate if you could let me know the specific spices and their individual quantities. Thank you..

    1. I haven’t used spice mix ingredients individually therefore will not know measurements. Its a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove.
      Even if you make a mixture of all the above ingredients equally and pound them into a spice mix and use the required amount in the recipe it should work. it’s just a flavouring, so you can actually taste the batter as you go.

  4. Rangana Fernando

    4 stars
    Hi Ranchi, Greetings from Negombo.
    I’ve made love cake ones for an old recipe which came out really well.
    In here I’m surprised to see you adding beehoney and milk…
    Is it like a substitute for egg whites?? (Cos you do not add whites here)
    Best Regards
    Rangana

    1. Hey,
      It’s not a substitution for the egg whites, it is the way my mum does it and I do it, I have trialled almost all recipes and haven’t been satisfied with what I have tasted. There are a million recipes on the internet to make love cake, everyone has their own version. And proudly this is my version of making the love cake. Hope this clarifies your question.

  5. Otara Wickramarathne

    Hi Rachi
    Could you please share the ingredients included in the all spice mix and it’s measurements. I can’t find it in stores here in SL…

    1. Hi there,

      I haven’t used spice mix ingredients individually therefore will not know measurements. In Sri Lanka its called allspice. My mums buy it from Cargill. Its a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove.
      Even if you make a mixture of all the above ingredients equally and pound them into a spice mix and use the required amount in the recipe it should work. it’s just a flavouring, so you can actually taste the batter as you go.

  6. Hi can I know ruffly the weight if the cake please, oven temperature, pan size.
    I live in srilanka, so for how long can the cake be stored for?

  7. 5 stars
    Thanks lot Rachi.. however I ended up folding in 5 well beaten egg whites as I have done it before. And I gladly added all that brandy as you have mentioned in the recipe and cake is getting baked in the oven as I write this.. 🤩. Will let you know how the end result!

    1. Let me know how it comes out. I have tried it with folding 6 egg whites ( My mum sometimes does that as well) it tasted good, although I felt, the flavour has diluted a little. But was not entirely happy with the texture, as it was more compact. But love to hear your thoughts, as I was trying to compare it side by side.

  8. Hi,I came here to see can this be done without Brandy.I guess nope.Even though I asked for a Brandy substitution for Christmas cake from you,I myself don’t feel like making Christmas cake without Brandy.I know it won’t be the same.Oh well,I guess it is cake with Apple juice for me this year.
    By the way,why is Puhul dosi called Pumpkin preserve in English? It doesn’t translate correctly. I see some bottles of gooey something labeled as pumpkin preserve.They might be Pumpkin, but definitely not Puhul dosi.

    1. Imalshi, I am so sorry, I am sure this recipe can be done without alcohol because all other recipes for love cake are done without brandy, but since I have not trialled it, I am unsure what it will do to the texture of the cake. I am hoping to try it without alcohol, but it won’t be for this Christmas unfortunately.
      and yes the gooey pumpkin preserve is definitely not the correct one. The dry one is the best. some call it pumpkin preserve some call it melon candy too.

  9. Hi Rachi,

    I am planning to follow your recipe. Would you be able to tell me how many pounds can be made with the recipe you have shared?

    Thank you.

    Krishanthie

  10. Hi Rachi, I’m very keen to try this recipe. My mum used to make it and it was always wonderful. Sadly, she’s no longer with us and I don’t have her recipe – if indeed she used a recipe! Can you tell me what oven temp to use in a fan forced oven? I think the correct oven temp is crucial to the success of this recipe. Cheers, Ellis

    1. Mum’s always baked the best cake, I agree, nothing can beat our own mums bakings.Yes definitely, its all in the baking time and oven temperature. The reason why I have written conventional oven is because the heat is not to harsh, fan forced is actually good to make something crispy, because its has a stronger temperature. I haven’t used fan forced oven for this cake but to convert conventional to fan forced it is always 20 degrees less. so if i have 150C conventional it will be 130 fan forced.

  11. 5 stars
    First time attempting to make love cake. This receipe is easy and came out so well. I used a smaller tray than suggested which took longer to bake. The cake was still moist and tasted absolutely delicious. Thanks Rachi for sharing this and helping me find the ingredients as well!

  12. Christine Cooray

    Hi Rachi,Thank you for all the Recipes,I want to try the Love Cake without the egg whites.inatead you add milk,haven’t heard about adding milk.
    I will try this,I’m sure it’s delicious. Have a Blessed Christmas & a happy new year!!

  13. Hi i made your love cake and it was a hit with our non sri lankan friends. Everyone is asking for recepie 💖. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us.

  14. Hi ,If im making half the recipe quantity, should I bake it half of the time you have mentioned? Bcz I’m used to baking cakes and checking the centre with a toothpick to see if its done. With this cake I don’t know how to check if its done.

    1. Hey, if you are making half quantity, you need to use a proper small tray as well, because the height is necessary for the perfect texture. Do the same thing and insert a toothpick and see if it’s done, but take out the cake when it’s still moist. over baking, the cake will make the cake dry. so if the toothpicks come out with a little bit of stickiness then its done, don’t wait until it comes out super clean. Hope this helps. The time will really depend on the size of the pan. Let me know how it goes

  15. Hi, it turned out really nice. I think I could have baked it 10mins less,but oh well next time! Still iys moist . Specially under.. taste delicious!!! I couldn’t find any puhul dosi in Perth so I used candid Pineapple and it didn’t make any difference. Taste great every bite of it! It’s like 40c here in Perth and was wondering if the cake will go off if I leave it in room temperature? I have kept it in a air tight container with baking paper on the top and the bottom. Thank you for the lovely recipe!

    1. Amazing, oh that’s interesting about the candid pineapple, I should definitely give it a try. It does go dry when the weather is too hot, keep it in an airtight container in a cool dry place, even if it is inside a cupboard.

  16. Hello 🙂 is there a reason why you use white sugar over caster sugar here ? Can’t wait to try this recipe.

    1. caster sugar is much finer than white sugar, usually, in baking, I don’t worry too much about if it is caster or white sugar the reason being that sugar dissolves for heat, so when baking whatever sugar you do add in will dissolve. But when it comes to things like meringues or pavlovas, I use caster sugar due to the way the texture is meant to be. Hope this answers your question 🙂 Let me know how it goes

  17. 5 stars
    Hola Rachi, es semolina de trigo? Y los anacardos son tostados o crudos. Gracias por tu receta, tengo muchas ganas de hacerlo, un saludo.

    1. Hola David, es sémola de trigo y puedes usar anacardos crudos o tostados, no podemos traer anacardos crudos a Australia, así que yo uso anacardos asados ​​al horno, pero lo que esté disponible en el supermercado es aceptable. Por cierto, escribí esto en el traductor de Google porque no sé escribir en español. Disculpas, si esto no tiene sentido.

  18. Hi Rachi,
    Good reciepe. Can you please provide all the liquid ingredients in mL rather than grams if possible.
    Also what is the tray depth as you have only provided the length and width

    1. Thank you, The liquid ingredients ( Vanilla, Rose, almond essence) all are ml. G and ml both are equal for these ingredients.
      The depth of the tray is 7cm. But it can be lower.

  19. Hi Rachi,
    I am trying this tomorrow,
    Can I use jaggery instead of sugar ?
    Have you tried it with a silicone bake sheet instead of baking paper ?
    I find this results in moister cakes.

    thanks

    1. I have never used jaggery. Not sure how it will turn out. Love cake is already a darker cake, so when adding jaggery it might burn the cake.
      I always use baking paper. the taste is very different when using silicone mats. love cake already very moist.Hope this helps

  20. 5 stars
    Once again Rachi, a fantastic recipe for Sri Lankan Love Cake. I made this recently and everyone at work loved it. I made the mistake of halving the amount of sugar (which I will not do the next time) – but it still was surprisingly tasty. I also love the fact that your recipes are based on Australian ingredients which makes things super easy. Thank you Rachi.

  21. Daphne Pereira

    Hi I am quite impressed with this recipe and I am certainly going to try the milk. I have been making for years first time I heard about milk. Well lets try it. I would use the egg since I li ke the slight crust on the top like biscuit. I have large quantities to make and will try one out this way. Also another lovely hint is to put a few lime leaves when heating the rulang. The fragrance is lovely. Just a thought.
    Also I see the pul dosai is more than the cadju. Hope it wont be too soggy.
    Lets try.
    Love

    1. let me know how it goes, this cake will be very moist hence why there is more puhul dosi. great tip with the lime leaves, thank you.

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