Christmas Cake, Sri Lankan-style

Christmas Cake, Sri Lankan-style

You might not readily associate tropical Sri Lanka with all the trappings of Christmas.

But this cake, also known as Rich Cake, is served at both weddings and during the festive season on the island.

The cake incorporates typically Sri Lankan spices, such as cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and nutmeg, and uses semolina in place of ordinary flour.

When I was growing up on the tea estate in Hatton, this cake was a regular feature at Christmas time in our house.

My mother would supervise the making of the cakes in 10-pound quantities.

As I remember it, there were no electric mixers in homes and muscular male workers from the tea processing factory would be called in to do the mixing, beating the eggs and then mixing them into the fruit mixture in an enormous enamel metal basin, using their bare arms.

A far cry from the current day Kenwoods and Magi mixers!

An equally huge tray of the raw mixture would then be sent down for baking in the wood-fired oven of the tea estate’s bakery once the day’s bread baking was over and the oven had cooled down.

Sadly, when my mother passed away at an early age, I had not got her recipe, but later on when I was attending cookery classes in Sri Lanka I came across a similar recipe.

I combined this with one of my aunt’s and after much trial and error I got my current recipe – which is delicious!

So to everyone out there, please try your hand at making this cake (see the Recipes section) and have a safe and happy festive season.