Caryl is my lovely friend in Melbourne, I met her when I first lived in Melbourne in the early nineties - she was the PA to the boss in the publishing company where I got my first real job. She welcomed Paul and I into her beautiful, extended family and we are still close friends today. She and Michael popped over for lunch just last week! They are both foodies and great cooks. Every year when we visit Caryl and Michael at Christmas we are always sent home with a huge piece of Love Cake.
Caryl was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Australia at age 5, in the 1950s. She is an Aussie (she barracks for Geelong) but still retains a lot of links to her culture and one of them is Love Cake, a traditional Ceylonese cake. It is the most delicious cake I have ever eaten. A tiny, one inch square is enough, it is so sweet and rich! Caryl sometimes wraps it into pretty little parcels to give away, and I thought it might be a nice recipe to share for Valentine's Day! But beware, it will not last long...
So here is the Love Cake recipe, with Caryl's notes. I'm sorry there is no photo but we are always too eager to eat it. I have seen other recipes around but none as good as Caryl's version, which has evolved over the years into a dense, flat cake with a crisp top and chewy inside (sort of like the texture of a good brownie). It is a little tricky to make, but it tastes good even when it's not perfect, trust me! Have a great day with your loved ones today xx
CARYL'S LOVE CAKE
10 Egg yolks
500 gr. sugar (I still stick with the original 1lb which is a little less)
250 gr. semolina
350 gr. raw cashews (roughly ground)
250 gr. butter (also experimenting with 8oz which is a little less that 250gr)
1 teaspoon each of cardamom and cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon almond essence
1 tablespoon rose water
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 egg white beaten to a froth
OVEN NOTE: With new oven: I now set oven at 160C on Fan Bake first, to warm oven. When cake goes into the oven, turn to Bake (which uses both top and bottom elements) and cook for approx. 1hr.10mins but cover loosely with brown paper when it starts to brown … after about 10-15 mins.
In my old oven that didn’t have EIGHT different methods of baking(!) I used to just turn the oven ON at 300F (about 150C) and bake for about 1hr 15mins.
Prepare a 9 inch square baking tin by placing a thickness of brown paper on the bottom and then lining bottom and sides with baking paper. Set oven at 160C on Fan Bake. (See my oven note above)
Roast semolina for a few minutes (in a dry saucepan on the stove) then melt the butter into it – over a very low flame (the semolina might even be hot enough after the roasting, for the butter to melt into it without it needing to be over a flame). Then leave that aside for the butter to continue melting.
Beat egg yolks and sugar till creamy and fluffy. Add spices, essences and lemon rind into the egg mixture.
Gradually fold in the ground cashews and the semolina and butter into the mixture. Then fold in the beaten egg white.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven – see oven note above.
Love Cake can be frozen and will last for several days in a tin or in the fridge.
Apples and Hearts textile design by Graziela Preisler.