Food, History & Traditions

Friendly Friday Challenge Guest Post – Nostalgia

The Guest post for this week’s Friendly Friday theme of Nostalgia, comes from Lorelle, an Australian Mum of two, passionate traveller and foodie enthusiast, who blogs at A Mindful Traveller.

I had the immense pleasure of meeting the lovely Lorelle a couple of years ago and she has been so kind to write a beautiful narrative about a very different kind of cake, one that is not only full of tradition but also has a special meaning for her and her family.

Two bloggers meet in Melbourne

Lorelle writes:

Nostalgia

“Interestingly, there are two forms of nostalgia, restorative and reflective.

For me, Nostalgia is purely reflective. Stepping down memory lane with no need to recreate the past, is gratifying. The memories and more importantly, the feelings associated with those memories, are forever embedded with us.

Food is a remarkable trigger for Nostalgia, as it is a powerful sensory recollection. We all associate certain foods with memories and feelings.

Sri Lankan Connection

Coming from a Sri Lankan family, food is an important cultural way of life. And when I reflect on the vast variety of delicious and tasty Sri Lankan foods, there is one particular dish that is not only my favourite but one that holds special memories as it is only prepared and eaten at that all-important sacred feast of Christmas.

These customs and traditions allow us to preserve our important ancestral history. Unique, individual stories, wisdom and in this case recipes, passed from generation to generation. As Sri Lankan migrants, my parents continue to pass on their significant heritage to their children, and at important celebrations of the year where family gather, recipes like Sri Lankan Love Cake remind us of where it all began.

Sri Lankan Love Cake

History of Sri Lankan Love Cake

This traditional Sri Lankan cake was inspired by the Portuguese from the 1500’s. As the name suggests, Love Cake was originally made to win the heart of an admirer. It is made from cashew nuts, semolina and candied winter melon/squash called puhul dosi (pumpkin preserve).  Exotic spices and floral essences create a fragrant, sweet, spiced cake with a soft chewy inside and a crunchy crust.

There are many different variations to Love Cake, with each “Aunty” insisting her recipe is better than the other! Practice is also another requirement. Don’t be alarmed if you do not succeed the first time. Adjusting ingredients or oven temperatures may be necessary.

Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe

In the recipe below, I have used a bain-marie of water to create that soft chewy centre. By placing a tray of water at the bottom of the oven, the moisture stays within the cake and doesn’t dry it out.

So, it is here that Christmas and its celebratory traditional cakes, bring great Nostalgia of our original family home, my grandparents and the sense of togetherness and family love.

Sri Lankan Love Cake

Makes: 2 rectangular baking trays

Prep Time: 30 mins (Eggs need to be at room temperature)

Cooking Time: 2 hours 15 mins

Ingredients:

  • 450g butter, softened
  • 450g semolina
  • 650g cashew nuts (pulsed in a food processor until finely chopped, keeping some larger pieces. Do not blend to a powder consistency)
  • 12 egg yolks (at room temperature)
  • 7 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 700g caster sugar
  • 500 g preserved pumpkin (puhul dosi), finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor
  • 50ml rosewater
  • 2 tbsp almond essence
  • 50ml honey
  • juice of 1 orange
  • rind of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg, ground
  • 2 tsp cardamon, ground
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1 tsp clove, ground

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced)
  2. Grease two rectangular cake tins and line with foil and then baking paper.
  3. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy.
  4. Combine the softened butter and semolina together in a separate bowl using your fingers. Add this to the egg and sugar mixture in thirds, beating to combine.
  5. Transfer mixture into a very large mixing bowl and using a wooden spoon incorporate the nuts, pumpkin preserve. Then add rosewater, almond essence, honey, juice and rind, stirring well. Add remaining dry spices and mix.
  6. Whip the egg whites into soft peaks and gently fold through the egg whites into the cake batter in two batches, do not over beat mixture. The egg whites will loosen up the mixture.
  7. Pour batter into prepared cake tins.
  8. Place a large tray of water on bottom oven shelf.
  9. Bake the cakes at 160°C for 20 mins on middle oven shelf.
  10. Reduce heat to 150°C and bake for a further 2 hours and 15 minutes.
  11. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil.
  12. Once cooked and brown on top, remove cakes and allow to cool in trays before transferring. Cut into rectangles or squares when cool.

If you are wondering about preserved pumpkin, Lorelle writes to tell me that:

Preserved pumpkin or Puhul dosi, can be purchased from the Indian/Sri Lankan grocers or you could try to make your own. You can alternatively use preserved or candied squash/winter melon or pineapple. A health food store might stock these items.

About Lorelle and A Mindful Traveller:

Three years ago, I decided to document and share my personal travel and favourite recipes from the many wonderful places I visited locally and globally.

My passion for travel grew immensely and was educated as I discovered new and exciting corners of the globe that I had not been to before.

Living in Australia and being quite distant from the rest of the world has its advantages and disadvantages.

Now, as we fight our way through a worldwide pandemic, the ambivalent questions of when we will be able to travel overseas again are daunting.

This presents another opportunity to further explore my own country and improve my knowledge for the country I was born in. The open outback, rugged coasts and stretched roads are calling….

Photo by David Jia on Pexels.com

Many thanks to Lorelle for sharing this delicious recipe and giving us an insight into the background and traditions around this a small piece of ‘nostalgia.’

41 thoughts on “Friendly Friday Challenge Guest Post – Nostalgia”

      1. No, I haven’t heard from Sabine since November at least. She’s just dropped out of sight. She canceled 2 lunch dates we made and I told her I would wait to hear from her. So far, not a word. I think she has even stopped blogging. It’s sad.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I wonder what is going on there? I hope she is okay. I noted she had lost interest in blogging. They saw some trouble with the housing community so maybe they have moved location?

          Like

          1. They had talked at length about moving and had even prepared their home for sale. I’m never going to push someone to confide in me or even be friends. I guess after 6 years, she decided to move on. I have to let it go.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. I just checked my last comment to her was March 10 which went unanswered. She mentioned that she was staying offline as the political stress was greatly worrying her. When we think of how much worse things have gotten since then, she may have taken a complete break. If you do see or hear from her, give her my best wishes.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Ah what a lovely post and that looks like a delicious cake! Thank you to both for sharing it. I can almost taste all those spices! It’s so true that food can evoke strong memories, I find music also does that for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Music and certain smells are strong triggers for memory, Mydustyflipflops. (I don’t know if you prefer me to call you by another name)? Certain music does bring back visual and audio memories more vividly than a photo, at times. The song Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins was a song that used to play on the radio when I was travelling and staying at Airlie Beach, so I always think of the Whitsundays when I hear that song. Even though it was back in 1980! Do you have a song that is particularly strong in evoking memories of a time?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You can call me Dusty if you like 🙂 Aah, Airlie Beach! I have visited once when I was travelling and went to the Whitsundays, I could not get over how beautiful it is there. That powder white sand!! I have a few songs that do the same. Radio Killed the Radio Star and a few Mama Cass songs remind me of my early years in Bahrain. And Ian Brown’s F.E.A.R will always be my song of my year travelling. I remember listening to that on a bus in New Zealand and just feeling so content and happy, I had achieved what was my dream. Even hearing it now and I am whisked right back to that moment!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I don’t know Fear but am well acquainted with the other artist/song. Love Mamma Cass and the Mammas and the Pappas, Dusty! They wrote and sang some timeless songs, perfect for travel.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Amanda, what a delicious post and a beautiful rich cake shared by the lovely Lorelle, who I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting a few years back. I can see why it’s called a Love Cake. Looks amazing!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow! You have met Lorelle too? But of course, you live in the same region, so it is not surprising. Lorelle and I met up in Brunetti in 2018.

      This cake has history! How amazing is it to have brought together lovers since the 1500’s !

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  3. I’ve not been on WordPress for ages Amanda, but seeing this recipe, I’ve truly seen what I’ve been missing 🙂 I hope that you and the rest of your family are well, especially during these very different times that we now live in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy? Wow – you are back in the blogosphere. I wondered what happened with your blogging. I had a brief look at your photos and I can see you have unskilled to a very professional level. I don’t have a Monday Mystery photo anymore but this challenge instead. If you feel you might like to write a guest post on your photographic journey or something related for “Friendly Friday,” to get some blog exposure again, we are looking for a guest bloggers for Sept onwards. Welcome back.

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  4. Thank you for featuring Lorelle this week, Amanda. I have followed her travel & food posts for a while now but have only learned here that she has strong ties with Sri Lanka, which is a country I have fond memories of visiting. I love how much connectedness there is in this space!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for showcasing this recipe Amanda and the special memories and meaning behind it all. As I scroll through all these wonderful comments, I realise how many amazing people i have met and connections I have had the pleasure of forming both locally and globally. It is a truly special bond bloggers have with each other and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do so. I hope everyone is well and managing through the challenging times our planet faces. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the sense of community we have in the blogosphere and that the names of bloggers we know, come up again and again on diffetent blogs.
      We do have challenging times, Lorelle and it is especially difficult for you atm, but there are always all us bloggers friends online you have connected with, who you can turn to for support. Even so, things are better here, than elsewhere. Stay safe!

      Liked by 1 person

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