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July 17, 2019
Gulab Jamun Cake
Say hello to GULAB JAMUN CAKE! Majestic, isn’t she? Inspired by arguably one of the best Indian sweets of all time, this super moist saffron and cardamom cake is finished with a liberal lick of rosewater syrup. I think this cake is my spirit animal.
WTF are Gulab Jamuns?
If you’ve never had them, traditional Gulab Jamuns are basically doughnut holes on crack. They get their signature burnished bronze exterior from a high milk solids content that caramelises as it fries. Yes, like any dessert worth its salt (or should that be sugar?), Gulab Jamuns are deep fried before being dunked in a bath of rose-scented syrup.
Here’s my mum’s annual batch of Gulab Jamuns for the Hindu festival, Diwali. They’re amazing and she is the master!
When do people eat them?
They’re the original “golden balls” (sorry Mr. Beckham) and an iconic dessert at weddings. No religious festival would be complete without a bowl of a hundred sticky Gulab Jamuns either.
As a child, I would snaffle down a minimum of three at any sitting. Each jamun is basically a carrier for an outrageous volume of rosy-cardamom syrup. For the uninitiated, they can cause quite the sugar rush. Some go a step further and serve them warm with ice cream. Too far?
Sadly, I no longer have the metabolism of an eight-year, but I do need my Gulab Jamun fix once in a while.
Gulab Jamuns, reinvented
Enter, the Gulab Jamun Cake. This is one recipe I’ve gently modified to preserve all the things I love about the original dish. Ultimately, the cake has all the treasured flavours of classic Gulab Jamun without the deep frying or long soak in sugar syrup. What’s not to love?
Is this Gulab Jamun Cake eggless?
Yes, my recipe is made without eggs so is suitable for lacto vegetarians or anyone with an egg allergy.
Is this Gulab Jamun Cake vegan?
No. I developed my recipe to pay homage to the rich, milky flavour of traditional Gulab Jamun. I use full-fat milk powder to enrich the cake batter with a subtle creaminess reminiscent of the Gulab Jamuns I ate growing up.
A note on milk powder
Classic Gulab Jamun recipes feature grated milk solids (mawa). Having said this, milk powder is a more readily-available substitute. It works beautifully in this recipe. If you’d like to have a go at making a vegan version, you can try swapping this for soy milk powder, for example.
How to serve Gulab Jamun Cake
Ultimately, you want to serve it with ice cream for a truly royal pudding. You could also enjoy a naked piece with masala chai.
Ingredients you’ll need to make this Gulab Jamun Cake
Plain flour (all-purpose flour or maida)
Full-fat milk powder (whole milk powder)
Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
Fine salt (table salt)
Full-fat milk (whole milk)
Almond oil (or any flavourless oil of your choice)
Green cardamom pods
Dried petals and/or rosebuds (optional)
Slivered or chopped pistachios
Time needed: 1 hour and 30 minutes.
How to make Gulab Jamun Cake
Pre-heat the oven
Set your oven to 160°C/320°F. Grease the cake tin and dust it with flour. This coating will prevent the cake from sticking and help with easy release once baked.
Make the “buttermilk”
Mix together the milk and lemon juice. It’s important the milk is at room temperature (not warm or hot). The milk will thicken after about 10 minutes. If it looks a little lumpy (but not split/curdled), it’s right! Finally, add the oil and rosewater and give the mixture a quick whisk.
Combine the dry ingredients
Stir together the flour, sugar, milk powder, cornflour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, saffron and cardamom.
Whisk it up!
Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk briefly until smooth.
Fill the tin
Pour the batter into the cake tin.
Time to bake
Bake for around 60 minutes until the cake has risen and is golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven.
Make the sugar syrup
Combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Cook until it reaches 110°C (230°F) on a sugar/candy thermometer. Add the rosewater, cardamom and saffron and swirl gently to incorporate.
Cool and de-mold
Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes and then carefully invert it onto a wire rack.
Set up for the drizzle
Set the cake (on the wire rack) over a roasting tray or oven tray to catch the excess syrup as it falls. You may need to set this over a heatproof mat to protect your work surface.
Drizzle the syrup over the cake
Carefully drizzle the syrup over the cake. Repeat, transferring the cake to another roasting tray or oven tray and drizzle over the syrup from the first tin. Keep doing this until all the syrup is used up. I repeated this step 4-5 times. Decorate with pistachios. Allow the cake to cool completely.
Optional decoration (but so beautiful)
Fill the centre of the bundt with dried rose petals and rosebuds for a show-stopping finish. Finally, slice and serve.
This simple, yet beautiful cake sees the queen of Indian sweets transformed into an easy-to-make dessert. Rose, cardamom and saffron give the syrup-glazed sponge its iconic “gulab jamun” flavour. Serve it with ice cream for a truly royal pudding, or enjoy a piece with masala chai.
Keyword: baking, cake, eggless, gulab jamun
18cm Dia. x 8.5cm small ring cake/bundt tin
Sugar thermometer/candy thermometer
For the cake:
40gfull-fat milk powder
420mlwhole milkroom temperature
125mlalmond oilor any flavourless oil of your choice
4cardamom podsseeds removed and crushed
For the syrup:
2cardamom podsseeds removed and crushed
To grease the cake tin:
1tspalmond oilor any flavourless oil of your choice
Dried rose petals/rosebuds
Slivered or chopped pistachios
For the sponge:
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Grease the cake tin with 1 tsp oil and dust with 1 tbsp plain flour. Set aside.
In a jug, mix together the whole milk and lemon juice. Set aside for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Whisk in the oil and rosewater.
Mix together the remaining (dry) ingredients for the cake in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the milk mixture and beat briefly until smooth, about a minute.
Pour the cake batter into the greased and floured tin and bake for 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Do not open the oven door in the first 40 minutes of cooking.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack. It should come away from the tin easily since it was greased and floured. You might need to give it a gentle wiggle. Allow to cool.
For the sugar syrup:
In a small saucepan, mix together the sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to the boil and simmer until it reaches 110°C (230°F) on a sugar/candy thermometer. The lemon juice will stop the syrup crystallising. Add the rosewater, cardamom and saffron and give the pan a very gentle swirl.
Set the cake (on the wire rack) over a roasting tray or oven tray to catch the excess syrup as it falls. You may need to set this over a heatproof mat to protect your work surface. Carefully drizzle the syrup over the cake. Repeat, transferring the cake to another roasting tray or oven tray and drizzle over the syrup from the first tin. Keep doing this until all the syrup is used up. I repeated this step 4-5 times. Decorate with pistachios. Allow the cake to cool completely.
Optional: Fill the centre of the bundt with dried rose petals and rosebuds for a show-stopping finish. Slice and serve.