Christmas cake

Christmas cake

Sri Lankan Flavours
Craig Wood

This is a moist, soft cake, like a heavy plum pudding, often used for Sri Lankan wedding cakes.

My mentor Dur-é Dara has contributed this recipe. He writes: "My grandmother grew up in Sri Lanka but travelled to Malaysia as a young woman. There she met a man from the Sri Lankan city of Jaffna and they eventually married and had six children, my mother among them.

"Although my grandparents lived in Malaysia they maintained many of their Sri Lankan food customs and habits and I grew up every Christmas partaking in the family activity of dicing vast quantities of fruit and mixing cakes in big baby baths. Sri Lankans traditionally eat these semolina cakes at Christmas. They are similar to standard fruit cakes but slightly richer and stickier. I have since seen the cakes on the menus of several restaurants in Melbourne.

"My 80-year-old aunt still makes this Christmas cake and sends it to relatives and friends in America, England and Australia."


Quantity Ingredient
250g preserved ginger
250g glace cherries
250g cashews
250g mixed glace fruit
250g raisins
375g sultanas
125g mixed peel
500g ginger jam
1/2 cup brandy
375g butter
500g caster sugar
12 egg yolks
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons lemon rind, grated
1 tablespoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon almond essence
2 teaspoons rose essence
250g semolina
6 egg whites
extra brandy

Almond icing

Quantity Ingredient
250g ground almonds
500g icing sugar
1 small egg, beaten
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon sherry
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
1/2 teaspoon egg white, beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 140°C. Prepare a 25 cm round or square tin with three thickness of brown paper and two layers of greaseproof paper brushed with melted butter.
  2. Drain syrup from preserved ginger and chop ginger into small pieces. Cut cherries into quarters, cut nuts finely or grind them.
  3. Combine all fruit and nuts in a large bowl with the ginger jam and brandy and leave to soak for 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Cream butter and sugar together until light. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well. Add honey, spices, grated rind and essences and mix well. Add semolina and continue to beat. Add fruit mixture and stir well using your hands. Finally, whip egg whites until stiff and fold through.
  5. Place mixture in prepared cake tin and bake for 2–2 1⁄2 hours; cover the cake with greaseproof paper for the first 1 1⁄4 hours in the oven.
  6. Stand to cool. When cool sprinkle brandy over cake before icing, preferably the following day (wrap in foil overnight).
  7. To make icing, put ground almonds, icing sugar, egg, brandy, sherry and almond essence in a bowl and stir with a spoon to form a thick paste. Ice cake and then brush beaten egg white over it.
  8. Place cake in airtight container – it will keep for a year or longer.
Sri Lankan Flavours
South East Asian
Southeast Asian
Sri Lankan
South-East Asian
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