Rich Cake is another variety of fruit cake (or, as I would call it, Christmas fruit cake :)) that is commonly served at weddings and at Christmas in Sri Lanka. Since I’d recently made a coconut fruit cake, Fahim had been begging me to make a Rich Cake.

So I did. 😀

Rich Cake

Here it is served with whipped cream. Yeah, I know, no marzipan topping – what’s wrong with me? What can I say? We like whipped cream. 🙂

I made some modifications to the recipe – we don’t use alcohol at all, so traded cream for the brandy, for example – but you can see the original here. I also halved it since, honestly, we don’t need a huge amount of cake. And because we don’t have a Bundt pan – I didn’t know they even existed in Sri Lanka since I haven’t seen one here – I’m using an 8′ x12″ pan. And I converted the recipe to metric since, well, I’m a metric girl. 🙂

There’s also a question about the semolina flour that’s listed in the original recipe. Do they mean semolina, which is a wheat product that is commonly in small little granules like cream of wheat? Or do they mean that that’s supposed to be ground fine into a flour? Cuz I haven’t seen it in flour form here. Ah well. As it turned out, I didn’t have any semolina, so used regular all-purpose wheat flour instead. Worked fine. 🙂

I’ve also switched out dark raisins for blackcurrents since that’s what I have on hand. Honestly, if you don’t like a particular type of fruit, switch something else for it. It doesn’t matter. 🙂

I omitted cardamom since Fahim doesn’t like it and cloves since I react badly to it. Instead, I added 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon mace since that I have on hand. 🙂

And seriously, why use ounces in a recipe without specifying whether you intend it as the volume or the weight type of ounce? Cuz 8 ounces, the weight type of ounce, is 226 grams. But 8 ounces, the volume type of ounce, of raisins is 151 grams. That’s a HUGE difference. So I’m going with these ounces being weight and hoping for the best. 🙂

Of course, that means this cake will be hugely fruit-dense. Hugely. But we’re okay with that. 😀

Traditional Christmas Cake of Sri Lanka


  • 110 grams (4 ounces) seedless dark raisins
  • 170 grams (6 ounces) seedless golden raisins
  • 110 grams (4 ounces) mixed glace fruit
  • 110 grams (4 ounces) preserved ginger, drained
  • 225 grams (8 ounces) chow chow preserves or melon and ginger jam, drained*
  • 55 grams (2 ounces) mixed citrus peel (no pith)
  • 110 grams (4 ounces) glace cherries

Fruit = 890 grams total

  • 110 grams (4 ounces) raw cashews or blanched almonds

Fruit + nuts = 1000 grams total

  • 30 grams (2 T) cream
  • 85 grams (6 T) butter
  • 190 grams (1 cups) granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon rose essence
  • 175 grams (1 cup) semolina flour
  • 3 egg whites


  1. Generously grease an 8″x12″ or 9″x13″ cake pan and set aside.
  2. Chop raisins, mixed glace fruit, preserved ginger, chow chow preserves and citrus peel into small pieces. Cut glace cherries in halves. Chop nuts very finely.
  3. Combine fruits and nuts in a large bowl, sprinkle with cream, cover and set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add grated lemon rind, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla extract, almond extract, and rose essence and mix well. Add the semolina and beat until well combined.
  5. Add the chopped fruit and nuts to the cake batter, stirring until fruit and nuts are dispersed evenly.
  6. In another mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
  7. Gently fold the beaten egg whites throughout the cake batter.
  8. Turn into prepared cake pan.
  9. Bake in a 180C/350F/gas mark 4 oven for about 45 minutes.
  10. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove cake from pan. Allow cake to cool completely, preferably overnight.
  11. Serves 12 or more.

If you don’t have or don’t like a certain type of fruit or nut, sub it with something else. As long as the weight of all the fruit and nuts add up, it’ll work. You can use desiccated coconut instead of nuts if you prefer, or another type of nut altogether.

I used regular all purpose wheat flour since I didn’t have any semolina.

And how’d it turn out? Fahim said that it tasted just like Rich Cake should, but mine wasn’t dark enough and the fruit was too large to be authentic Rich Cake, ie, the way it’s made here in Sri Lanka. The reason the cake wasn’t dark enough? I cut the fruit into small pieces only, not absolutely minced them to death like the original recipe called for. More specifically, the chow chow we bought, which came in a jar in a heavy syrup, is dark dark brown when it’s like that, and it’s also got a rather gelatenous kind of texture. If I’d chopped that even finer, it would have fallen apart more in the cake to the molecular level, and that would have made the cake look even darker. Or, at least, that’s my theory. 😀

On the other hand, Fahim didn’t care that the fruit was recognizable and the cake wasn’t as dark as authentic. Since it tasted the way it should, it was great. 🙂

Yay! Success!

If you like fruit cake – and I do recognize that there are some weirdos in the world who don’t, so if that’s you, why are you reading this anyway? – then you’ll love this. Tell me what you think after you try it out. 🙂

6 Replies to “Sri Lankan Rich Cake”

  1. I am ~not~ a weirdo and I have had fruitcake that was actually pretty good. It is not my favorite, however. At. All. I prefer something along the lines of a banana nut or oat bread or the cranapple walnut spice cake I adapted from the original Moosewood Cookbook. I like the cranapple walnut cake better than cheesecake or chocolate cake. Seriously.

    For Christmas my friend Beth sent us baklava again. Once a year is about right for that sort of richness.

  2. Hi Laurie,

    I came here in search of a Larabar recipe! I must try your lemon coconut one.
    Re: semolina, they do mean the cream of wheat granular thingies. All the Sri Lankan families I know use that. And yes, the ounces here are a measure of weight (dry ounce). Liquids, however, are measured by volume (fluid ounces). At least that’s the way I understand it.

  3. Hi Suhashini! Please let me know how the lemon coconut larabars turn out. 🙂

    From what I can tell, semolina and cream of wheat are exactly the same thing going by different names. We’ve used semolina to make a cream of wheat type cereal that turned out exactly like cream of wheat, so it’s certainly at least completely interchangeable.

  4. The rich fruit cakes my grandmother makes now – up to 350 over the past three decades, she estimates – are a direct descendant of my parents’ nuptial cake. The child bride and groom who grew up to produce two children: my sister, a baker. And me, a burner. Too lazy to measure properly and set the timer.

  5. For cream, you can use whipping cream, double cream, half & half, or any other dairy product that has at least as much milk fat as whole milk, but preferably more. Whipping cream usually has at least 35% milk fat, so it lends a nice, rich texture. You can use whole milk, but of course the richness will be decreased. Depending on your preferences, that can either be a good thing or a bad thing. I usually use whipping cream, but if I only had another kind of cream on hand with a lower milk fat percentage, I would certainly use that instead.

    Does that clear things up?

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