Citrus and semolina is a bandwagon I needed to have jumped on a LONG time ago, seriously. So good together!! This orange cake I made had blown my mind, and I don’t know why lemon wasn’t brought into the picture earlier. Making up for lost time by eating allll the cake now!
These little beauties also have ground almonds and are soaked in a super easy lemon syrup. They’re moist, perfectly sweet and citrusy, and ridiculously delicious. Let’s bake!
The recipe is from Sweet, a cookbook that has a collection of so many wondrous recipes, I didn’t know where to begin. For some reason, I flipped right past this recipe the first time I went through the book. What a crime!
The combination of ground almonds and semolina gives these cakes the most unique texture. They are grainy, but fluffy and every bite has a little….bite to it. I LOVED it. Flaked almonds on top add some extra crunch and it was a last minute thought I’m very pleased about. The syrup is spooned onto the hot cakes and soaks in as the cake cools for the most lemony, zesty, citrusy kick. It’s unbelievable.
Originally, this is supposed to make 8 cakes, but I decided to try them in my 6-mould muffin tray and they baked up just fine. No overflow or anything. The one thing I will recommend is using pieces of baking paper instead of muffin liners. The paper has a higher overhang which you need whether you bake 6 or 8 cakes. It helps to lift the cakes out, hold the syrup in and in general, make a little protective casing because the cakes are fragile.
They’re nutty, lemony and absolutely incredible by themselves. Although a dollop of whipped cream wouldn’t hurt! I hope you’ll make these really soon!
Please read the recipe notes before beginning.
- For the cakes
- ½ cup semolina (regular sooji rawa in India)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt if using unsalted butter
- ½ cup butter, at room temp (115 gms)
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp lemon zest (from 3 to 4 lemons)
- ½ cup whole almonds, finely ground
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice (20 ml, from 1 to 2 lemons)
- Flaked almonds, optional
- For the syrup
- ¼ cup caster sugar, lightly heaped
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Lightly grease 6 muffin moulds (see notes) and line each with squares of baking paper, making sure there is enough overhang to lift the cakes out and prevent overflow. Very lightly grease the paper too. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the semolina, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, using a hand mixer. Add the ground almonds and mix to combine.
- Pour in the eggs and beat again. Add the semolina and baking powder mixture and beat slowly until combined. Do not over-mix.
- Divide the batter equally among the prepared muffin moulds. Top with flaked almonds if you like. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through to ensure even browning. The cakes are done when they've puffed up, browned on the top, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Five minutes before the cakes are done, make the syrup. Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan on medium heat and stir together. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring to make sure the sugar dissolves. It will thicken very slightly.
- When the cakes are done, spoon the syrup over the tops and leave to cool completely. In humid environments, it's a good idea to store them in the fridge after day one. Happy eating!
*If you would prefer to use muffin liners, bake these as 8 or 9 cakes. The baking paper is recommended to make lifting the cakes out of the pan easier, as well as holding the syrup in. Do not bake these directly in the pan, they are very fragile and will be hard to take out without breaking.
*The cakes are quite buttery. If this concerns you, I think reducing the butter to ⅓ cup would be fine too.
*The lemon flavour is strong and if you're not used to it, increase the sugar in the cake to ¾ cup and reduce the lemon juice in the syrup to suit your preference.
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