Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Lemon, semolina and olive oil cake

On Saturday I made a cake. On Sunday I went on a picnic. I wrapped a chunk of cake in foil, and packed it and a pocket knife. With friends, I caught the ferry across the harbour and walked along a shady, gumtree-lined path hugging the water til we reached a perfect picnic spot, with shade and views of white sailboats skating across the blue. The cake was approved by picnickers and ants alike. And tasted just as good the next day at home. 

This cake is similar to some in my citrus repertoire but different in subtle ways. Unlike lemon yoghurt cake, it's made with olive oil, not butter. It kind of ressembles the lemon polenta cakes, but swaps a coarse yellow grain for a fine white one. It's got the nutty flavour of Middle-eastern orange cake, but the tang of yoghurt and fragrance of honey. So it's a bit of everything. And tastes better for it. Inside, outside, anywhere.

Lemon, semolina and olive oil cake
Adapted from a recipe by Karen Martini in the Sydney Morning Herald

You'll be able to find semolina (a wheat flour commonly used for making pasta) in most supermarkets but if it's not in yours, check out health food stores or a good deli.  

2 extra-large eggs
1 lemon, zested and juiced
75g castor sugar
75g honey
175g fine semolina
75g almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder 
100ml extra virgin olive oil
50g plain yoghurt 

Lemon syrup
100g castor sugar
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Preheat the oven to 160C fan-forced or 180C conventional. Grease and line a 23-centimetre loaf tin.

Whisk the eggs, lemon zest, sugar and honey until pale and fluffy, about three to four minutes.
Mix the semolina, almond meal and baking powder together. Fold half into the egg mix, then fold in the olive oil, yoghurt and lemon juice and keep folding until well combined. Finish with the remaining semolina mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth over. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake has crumbs on it when removed.

To make the syrup, add the sugar, lemon zest and juice and 15 millilitres of water (about a tablespoon) to a small pot, bring to a simmer, stir until dissolved and take straight off the heat.

Pour half the syrup over the cake while still in the tin and set it aside for 10 minutes before unmoulding. Pour the remaining syrup over the top of the cake, slice and serve.

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