Recipe: Zimbabwe Candy Cake | Chikenduza

Candy. Cake. From Zimbabwe.

Given the name… and the fact that we needed a celebration recipe (this being the last recipe of our ‘official’ adventure to eat a dish from every country in the world)… well, I had to make it.

That’s not to say there weren’t other choices for celebration food. I could have made sweet potato cake (spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg) or sliced mango with custard.

But I was sold when I saw the shiny pink glaze on the mound of cakey bread.

I would have never known this cake existed, if it weren’t for several homesick Zimbabweans who shared their pinings on Fiso’s Kitchen. This is a treat you’d find in Zimbabwe’s city bakeries.

Mutare, aerial view of main street looking south. Photo by Seabifar.

Mutare, aerial view of main street looking south. Photo by Seabifar.

From what Fiso says, Candy Cakes are usually big and dense, made in a double a standard muffin, but I made mini ones in my muffin tin so I wouldn’t have to go buy special equipment. Though her version is yeasty, she also mentions a recent trend of baking powder being used in Zimbabwe’s Candy Cake. Personally, I’m with her: the old way tastes good. Really good.

Makes about 7


2 tsp yeast
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm milk
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup softened butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp water
red food coloring


Add the yeast, sugar, and warm milk to a bowl. Let proof until frothy, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, measure out the other ingredients. Mix them all together until a thick but wet dough forms (kind of like cookie dough).

Let proof for 1 hour.

Measure in 1/4 cup sizes, roll into balls and place into greased muffin tins. Preheat the oven to 350F while letting the cakes rise a second time, for about 20 minutes.

Bake until puffed and golden about 30 minutes.

Now let’s make the icing:

First, find some Zimbabwean sugar cane.

Field of sugarcane in Triangle. Photo by Macvivo.

Field of sugarcane in Triangle. Photo by Macvivo.

Whisk the powdered sugar with enough water to make a thick icing. I only needed about 1 1/2 Tbsp of water. If you use too much water, it’s easy to fix: simply whisk in some more powdered sugar.

Add a drop or two of food coloring, to make it pink.


This is a great one to do with kids. There’s no “right” way to get the pretty pink icing on top.

Just so long as you get plenty!

Thank you, Zimbabwe.

Thank you from the bottom of my sugar-happy heart!


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  1. What a beautiful cake! The pink icing is simply too cute!

    Hard to believe you are all the way through Zimbabwe……

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I know. I got more than a little teary eyed as we ate these yesterday. I kept delaying making them, then delayed eating them, and when I finally did… sigh.

  2. So this is basically a sweet dough…brioches, sticky buns, braided loafs, coffee cakes, including hot cross buns – also frosted with powdered sugar icing…[used to make tons of these for the Sisters]

    Nice twist…

    Are they dense with only one rise?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      They were dense, but I’m wondering if I was having issues with my yeast. I bought a different brand it didn’t seem to be as “powerful” as my regular stuff.

  3. A sweet sweet finish, lovely! I haven’t been able to keep up with everything, please tell me that you’ll continue the blog with…SOMETHING. Anything. I can’t bear the thought of the journey being over. So many dishes have made it into regular rotation, so many little bits of info added to my brain, so many new proverbs to ponder! Thank you, Sasha, for the world tour.

  4. Julie Weeks says:

    Congratulations Sasha! Your posts have been a bright spot in my day. So glad you are going to continue!
    My best to you and your lovely family.

  5. What a great way to end, but so sorry it’s ending. Coincidentally, tonight I came across this short story from Zimbabwe on BBC Radio 4. It’s available for only 2 more days (it’s one of three — I already missed the first one but there’s one more to come). I thought you might enjoy listening to wrap up this last country. Love the accent!

  6. elisa waller says:

    so fun..and did you notice I posted my “pink” hair on my facebook page…I did not plan that but I am glad I posted it at the same time…I am subconsciously celebrating your last country with you…..delciious….yay! I am so very proud of you! I’m feeling pink!!!!! <3

  7. I have loved following your adventure. I also like looking forward to all the fabulous countries I still have to do. Your site really inspires me to reach out to different recipes and to be more creative and get better a photography! Best of luck. Elly

  8. Oh, this has been such a wonderful “trip” through the world! I hope that you will author a book of all your world recipes, with proverbs and some pictures, too. Hate to see this end!

  9. these cakes look yummy! i love your blog!

  10. Aw, thank you very much. I really love chikenduza especially made way back in the days by Lobels bakery, I would buy one every day at school during break time, that was at Morgan High in Harare. Now thanks to u I bake it.

  11. When you purchase this make sure it is 100% Xylitol and doesn’t
    have other ingredients. You can try volunteering to bake cupcakes as your gift for
    the birthday celebration or come prepared by making a
    special gift of treats for the celebrant then handing out smaller portions for the party to enjoy.
    They were usually full of flavour along with the range of different types of fruity jellies
    was large – so I was in heaven.


  1. […] Zimbabwe Candy Cake | Chikenduza [Recipe] […]

  2. […] Recipe: Zimbabwe Candy Cake | Chikenduza Candy. Cake. From Zimbabwe. Given the name… and the fact that we needed a celebration recipe (this being the last recipe of our 'official' adventure to eat a dish from every country in the … […]

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