Recently I have joined a Cookbook Club. The idea is to cook a recipe from chosen cookbooks by the librarian. We then shared our dishes and discussed / reviewed the cookbook. I chose this cake since it was well written by the author and easy to make.
This Middle-Eastern inspired cake is from Nigella Lawson‘s cookbook titled “Feast: Food That Celebrates Life”.
Sticky Semolina Cake is nothing other than Basbousa, a age old Mediterranean dessert!
This cake tastes divine and like many other cake recipes from Nigella, this is also incredibly easy to make; everything is done in a food processor. I love the gritty texture of the cake provided by the semolina in place of flour.
The reason why this cake is so moist is because the cake was drenched with fragrant sugar syrup after baking. I would suggest making the syrup in advance though so that it has time to chill in the fridge.
The fragrant syrup is flavoured with rosewater and orange-flower water. Rosewater is not for everyone. I adore the scent of rosewater and its soft, sweet flavour. Use it sparingly, no more than a teaspoon here. If you add too much of it, it will over power the taste and feels like eating toiletry products (not nice) or your grandmother’s potpourri bowl (also not very nice). However, if you can’t stand it, just miss it out completely.
Sticky Semolina Cake Recipe Makes 36
For the syrup 2 cups superfine sugar 1 cup water 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon rosewater or 2 drops rose essence 1 teaspoon orange-flower water (optional)
For the cake 2 cups semolina 3/4 cup superfine sugar 1 stick butter plus 1 tablespoon for greasing pan 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda zest of 1 lemon 2 eggs 1/2 cup Greek plain yogurt 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom 36 whole blanched almonds
To make the syrup, dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat then add the lemon juice. Turn up the heat and boil the syrup fiercely for 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, add the rosewater and the orange-flower water, then pour the syrup into a jug to cool. Put the syrup in the fridge to chill down further.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter a 9 inch square baking pan. Put all the cake ingredients, except the whole almonds in a food processor and process until you have a smooth batter. Pour into the cake tin and spread evenly.
Dot the top with almonds in 6 rows of 6, placed equally apart. I did not do this except at the very end of baking. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, by which time the cake will have risen and become golden. Test with a cake tester to check its not doughy underneath.
Pour the cold syrup over the hot cake and leave to cool completely in the pan. Cut into 36 little squares, or however you like.