• Sri Lankan love cake (Sharyn Cairns)Source: Sharyn Cairns

Dial up your love of cake and spice with this family favourite that calls on preserved pumpkin and lime zest to seal the deal.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (367 votes)

"A glorious addition to an episode on spices, love cake dates back to the ancient spice trade that centred on Sri Lanka - the cinnamon, cardamom, cashews, nutmeg and cloves were all grown on the island. The cake itself is made from semolina and many eggs, creating a fragrant, sweet, lightly spiced cake with a moist chewy inside and a crunchy exterior. Seek out the preserved pumpkin which is key to flavour and texture. This recipe is a three-generation hybrid woven together from the Queen of Asian cooking in Australia, Charmaine Solomon, who based it on a recipe from her mother. This version is shared by Charmaine’s daughter Debbie who likes to add lime zest, preserved pumpkin and has dialed up the amount of spices." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth 


  • 1 whole egg
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 500 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tsp lime zest, finely chopped (not grated)
  • 1 tsp rose essence or 2 tbsp rosewater
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 275 g raw cashews, finely chopped
  • 250 g semolina, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan and cooled
  • 200 g chopped preserved pumpkin, drained and chopped
  • 4 egg whites

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


You will need a 20cm square cake tin. This recipe makes 20-25 small pieces.

Preheat the oven to 150˚C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20 cm square cake tin with brown paper, then a double layer of baking paper. Brush the inner paper with melted butter.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg, egg yolks and caster sugar until thick and pale.  Add the spices, lime zest, rose essence and honey and mix well. Stir in the cashews, toasted semolina and preserved pumpkin.

Whisk the egg whites in a large, spotlessly clean bowl until soft peaks form.  Fold one third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour into the lined tin and bake for 1 - 1¼ hours or until the cake is evenly golden brown on top and feels firm to the touch. When cooked the centre of the cake should still be somewhat moist so the skewer test is not recommended. If the cake is browning too much during cooking, cover loosely with a piece of baking paper.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to get quite cold before cutting.  Do not attempt to turn out this cake.  Cut into small squares and lift each one separately on to serving plate. 


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.

For recipes and more visit the Food Safari Earth program site right here.