Kanamadhu Cake | Lonumedhu

Kanamadhu Cake


A few years ago, Kanamadhu (sea almond) Cake had a really big moment here in the Maldives and it used to be a must for tea parties and celebrations. And although these days Kashikeyo (screwpine fruit) Cake and flavoured Tres Leches cakes seem to be enjoying much of the limelight, it looks like Kanamadhu Cake is still pretty much beloved.

Our Kanamadhu Cake recipe is quite simple and you won’t be needing any special equipment to prepare it.


Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1 cup kanamadhu (sea almonds)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1/3 cup & 4 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla essence
  • 1 ½ tsp. instant coffee powder (we used Nescafe)

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp. condensed milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup kanamadhu



  1. Grind the kanamadhu using the grinding attachment in your mixer and set aside. As you can see from the ingredient list, you’ll be needing kanamadhu for both the cake and the topping. So it might make more sense to grind all of it during this step and just keep them separately.  
  2. Rub 2 teaspoons of oil on the bottom and sides of a 7 inch diameter cake tin. You can just use your fingers for this, after thoroughly washing them of course. Then dust the tin with around a tablespoon of plain flour. You can just place the flour in the middle of the tin and just gently tap while turning the tin this way and that to have it distributed evenly at the bottom. To dust the sides, hold the tin vertically, place the flour on the side, and then just turn it like a wheel while tapping. All of this might sound confusing, but you’ll find it’s quite simple when you actually do it.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Then add in the ground kanamadhu that you’ve kept for the cake and give it a good mix. Set it aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. You have to do this at least 10 minutes prior to baking.
  5. Beat together the eggs, sugar and oil until you get a creamy texture. For this you can use a stand mixer, hand held electric mixer, or even your juice blender. If you are using your juice blender, running it for around 2 minutes on low would do. You can also beat it by hand using a fork. If using a fork you’ll have to go at it for around 10 minutes.
  6. If you used the blender, transfer the egg mixture to a mixing bowl. If not, you can just go on to the step below.
  7. Add around 4 tablespoons of the flour and kanamadhu mixture to the egg mixture and mix until the flour is fully incorporated. You can just use a spoon for the mixing and do it gently being careful not to over mix.
  8. Then add in around 2 tablespoons of milk and mix until combined, once again being careful not to over mix.
  9. Repeat steps 7 & 8 until you run out of flour and milk.
  10. Add the vanilla essence and the Nescafe powder and mix until combined.
  11. Pour the mixture into the cake tin you prepared earlier.
  12. Place the tin on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. For us this took 30 minutes. But oven temperatures differ, so keep an eye on it, especially towards the end and make the necessary adjustments.
  13. When the cake is baked, take it out from the oven and let it cool down in the pan for around 10 minutes. Then remove it from the pan and allow it to cool down further.
  14. While the cake is cooling down, add the butter to a sauce pan and heat it on low flame until it melts.
  15. Then add in the brown sugar, set the heat to medium, and cook while continuously stirring until the mixture starts boiling.
  16. Then add the milk and keep stirring. Adjust the heat so that the mixture is no longer boiling but simmering.
  17. When it thickens enough for you to see little bits of the bottom of your pan when you stir, add in the condensed milk, vanilla essence, ground cinnamon and salt.
  18. Keep stirring and cook until the mixture is thick enough to leave a thin coat on the back of a spoon. Then remove the mixture from heat. It’s going to thicken a bit more as it cools down.
  19. Pour the mixture over the cake and use a spoon to get the sauce on the sides too. (Alternatively, you can cut the cake into two even layers, spread around a quarter of the sauce in between the layers and put the rest on the top and the sides too.)
  20. Then sprinkle the ground kanamadhu that you prepared for the topping on top of the cake. Use your fingers to cover the sides too. These last two steps are a bit messy, so after you are done, gently transfer the cake to a serving plate so that it looks nice and presentable.
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