eLanka | Sri Lankan Christmas Cake



On Day One you steep the fruit in spices and brandy and five days later you mix in the other ingredients and bake it for an hour and half.

Here’s what you need to start:

100 grams each of:

  • whole currants

  • whole sultanas

100 grams each of roughly chopped:

  • red gace cherries

  • glace ginger

  • raisins

  • cashew nuts

  • mixed peel – the Sri Lankan version is thickly syrupy

  • candied pumpkin – again a local ingredient, substitute with candied pineapple

The fruit will expand by almost 100% during steeping, so choose a large bowl to add all the ingredients together with:

The Spice Mix

Grind to a fine powder with a mortar and pestel or coffee grinder (There should be a little more than required for the recipe, keep this allspice mix airtight for another recipe. By the way, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon weighs 2.6 g).

Mix all indredients well, seal tightly with plastic wrap, wrap in a tea towel and leave to steep at room temperature for 5 days.


Here’s what you’ll need

Before you start:


  • 100 gms of softened butter

  • 50 gms of castor sugar (the Sri Lankan version calls for 100 gms, but I found this teeth numbingly sweet. Next time I’d even reduce the 50gm to 40 gm)

  • 100 gms of semolina

  • 6 eggs separated

  • 1 teaspoon of bee honey, as it’s called here

  • 1 teaspoon of almond essence

  • 1 teaspoon of rose essence

  • 1/2 teaspon of vanilla essence

  • grated rind of 3 limes

Beat the sugar and butter to a creamy consistency and add egg yolks one by one, then add the lime and essences.

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks

Mix the semolina into the steeped fruit

Pour the butter/egg/sugar mix into the fruit and fold through well.

Fold in the egg whites at the last moment, being careful not to mix more than necessary

Pour into the cake tin, bake in the middle of the oven for 1hr 30 minutes and test with a skewer.

Note: I added in a good extra slurp of brandy at this stage, and found that the extra moisture required another 20 minutes in the oven … the butcher’s paper lining ensured that the cake wasn’t a bit overcooked.

Cool completely before turning onto a rack.

I’ve decorated mine with mangrove flower sepals from the lagoon here, studded with Sri Lankan cloves, and I store in the refrigerator for easier slicing.

Well, finally feeling festive, and celebrating with a nip of ‘Rosetto’, a spiced wine also full of cloves and cinnamon, made by the Rosarian Sisters from the little convent I visited a few weeks ago in Jaffna, at the nothern most tip of the island … but that’s another story.

Happy baking, and Merry Christmas!!

xx Anna

P.S. The first part of this story of cinnamon is here.

I’ve discovered a company here in Sri Lanka who grows their own spices and exports around the world to individuals – lovely people to talk to, easily to communicate with and very responsive – ask for Mr Chandran who started the company and is passionate about spices!

Welcome to True Ceylon Spices – True Ceylon Spices

My next recipe story will be ablout the different grades of Cinnamon – there are 4 – and Cinnamon Alba, which is my next culinary advenure, is the cosliest and most refind of all, so I’m looking forward to cooking with that and sharing the story.

If you love Bryani try out this recipe from Jaipur Spice Voyage Recipe #1 for Biryani Lovers

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