One of the things Sri Lanka (or Ceylon, as it used to be called under British rule) is famous for is tea. And boy, do they make good tea! On our recent trip, we visited several tea plantations and had the pleasure of tasting tea right where it grows and is being made. The plantations were absolutely beautiful, with hills covered in bright green and very lush tea plants as far as the eye can see, shaded by tall old trees. The factories, which are located on the premises of the tea estates, were quite a sight. They still use equipment that looked like it was at least a hundred years old. Tea is the drink of choice in Sri Lanka, and it was surprising how refreshing a hot cup of tea felt even with tropical temperatures and humidity.

We really got into the habit of drinking tea every day, and since we brought back a nice stash of Ceylon tea, we have been carrying on this new tradition at home. But of course, tea tastes so much better when it is accompanied by a nice piece of cake, and I will use any excuse to have a slice of my late grandmother’s Guglhupf. She used to make it so often that we always had at least one cake in the freezer (it freezes extremely well), always at the ready when the munchies struck. This Guglhupf is wonderfully soft with a hint of vanilla and big chunks of dark chocolate. You could also omit the chocolate chunks and use chopped walnuts or almonds instead. A few drops of bitter almond essence are a nice addition as well. If you don’t have a Guglhupf form at home, any other cake pan works just as well.

My Grandmother’s Guglhupf
4 eggs, separated
200g sugar
1 pack vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100ml canola oil
100ml water
220g flour
1 generous tablespoon baking powder
juice of 1 lemon
100g good quality dark chocolate, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks

1. Put egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and mix until pale and creamy.
2. Add oil in a slow stream and mix well to incorporate.
3. Add water in a slow stream and mix well to incorporate.
4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
5. Add lemon juice, flour, and baking powder to egg yolk and sugar mix and mix in until fully incorporated.
6. Using a spatula, carefully fold stiff egg whites into batter.
7. Add chocolate chunks.
8. Bake at 180C (350F) for about 50 minutes.
9. Let cool in form, invert, and dust with powdered sugar. Let cool completely before cutting. If you can resist, this cake tastes even better the next day!


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