Sri Lankan Christmas Cake - Spice Voyager Recipe #2
Updated: Dec 24, 2020
This richly flavoured fruit cake is flourless and made in two easy parts.
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:
100 grams each of roughly chopped:
red gace cherries
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:
6 tablespoons of brandy
the juice of an orange
1 generous tablespoon of mixed spice
The Spice Mix
1 large nutmeghttps;
1 8cm length of (Sri Lankan) cinnamon. Where to get true Ceylon Cinnamon?
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.
5 DAYS LATER
Here's what you'll need
Before you start:
pre-heat oven to 150 C
butter a 20 cm square cake tin, followed by 5 layers of butcher's paper and finally a layer of buttered greaseproof paper
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!!
WHERE TO GET TRUE CEYLON CINNAMON?
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.
or scan this link with your phone camera to open their site
There are 4 grades of Sri Lankan Cinnamon - Cinnamon Alba is the cosliest and most refind of all, so I'm looking forward to cooking with that over the holidays and sharing that story in the New Year.
The first part of this story of cinnamon is here.
If you love Bryani try out this recipe from Jaipur Spice Voyage Recipe #1 for Biryani Lovers