Thursday 13 July 2017

Semolina, coconut and marmalade cake

There are certain cooks whose recipes you trust unreservedly. Yotam Ottolenghi is one. Though he's famous for elevating the vegetable to the main course at dinner parties, it's the sweet chapters in his books I'm most drawn to. Perhaps because they have fewer ingredients than the others, or maybe because of my memories of visiting his delis in London, where you're greeted with Alice in Wonderland-style displays of dessert: little lime polenta cakes, massive meringues, spice-infused cookies... It's a cacophony of colour and flavours and as such the antithesis of the traditional English afternoon tea. No wonder his new cookbook focuses solely on sweet. Til it's released in September, I'll make do with the slim non-savoury sections in his other books. From Jerusalem comes this cake - ideal for making ahead (always a bonus) as it keeps well, and tastes even better the next day. It's a good one to have in your repertoire if you're catering for anyone with an intolerance for dairy - just leave off the Greek yoghurt when serving. And in loaf form it makes for the best sort of carry-on cake - whether you're boarding a flight or transporting it to the park for a picnic.

Semolina, coconut and marmalade cake
From Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi

This makes two 500g loaves. You could make one bigger 1kg one by baking for another 20-30 minutes.

180ml sunflower oil
240ml orange juice
160g orange marmalade (ideally fine-cut, without peel)
4 eggs
grated zest of one orange
70g caster (superfine) sugar
70g dessicated coconut
90g plain flour
180g semolina
2 tbsp ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
thick Greek yoghurt, to serve

soaking syrup
200g caster (superfine) sugar
140g water
1 tbsp orange blossom water

Preheat oven to 180 deg C. 

Whisk together oil, orange juice, marmalade, eggs and orange zest til marmalade is dissolved. In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients and add to the wet. Mix til all is well combined. The mixture should be runny. 

Grease and line two 500g loaf tins. Divide batter between them. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the top comes out clean and they have turned an orangey-brown on top.

Near the end of the baking time, place the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, use a pastry brush to start brushing them with the hot syrup. You'll need to do this in a few goes, sometimes waiting a minute or two before the syrup is absorbed. Make sure you use all the syrup.

Once cakes have cooled, remove them from tins, slice thickly and dollop with Greek yoghurt.