Having had little time to browse the numerous new recipe books acquired at Christmas, I thought it was time to delve into one. Looking for mid-week cake inspiration, I flicked through Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s delightful ‘Jerusalem’ and found just what I needed – a cake containing marmalade – semolina , coconut and marmalade cake.
However, as ever, I didn’t quite have all the ingredients, so a semolina cake morphed into polenta cake and orange juice was replaced by pink grapefruit juice. Nothing too radical, so I figured the resulting mix was unlikely to fail, from a bake perspective at least. More of a question over how it might taste. I use the introductory text in the book as justification. Given the statement that semolina cakes soaked in syrup are pretty ubiquitous across the Middle East and there are so many variants, I might as well go the extra step – wholesale replacement of one of the key ingredients. In for a penny, in for a pound!
I am pleased to say, no harm done in using polenta – or pink grapefruit juice. The orange blossom water in the syrup gives the cake a real aromatic lift. The amount of sugar in the syrup is high. I cut it down a bit and still found it very sweet, although this is unsurprising for a cake recipe originating from this part of the world (and containing a syrup!). However, serving with natural yoghurt mixed with a few drops of orange blossom water complemented the cake perfectly and unleashed the coconut flavour and citrus tang, offsetting the sweetness too.
Note to runners: Another thing, I found that just a little bit of this cake half an hour or so before a run improves your pace. No indigestion guaranteed. Justification to indulge indeed!
The recipe is that I used to accommodate changes in ingredients.
Preheat oven to 160C (fan)
240ml grapefruit juice
180ml sunflower oil
160g Seville orange marmalade, homemade, of course
4 medium eggs, free range, of course
grated zest of half a pink grapefruit
70g caster sugar
70g desiccated coconut
90g plain flour
2 tblsp ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
1tblsp orange blossom water
Natural yoghurt mixed with a few drops of orange blossom water
- Mix together the wet ingredients: oil, fruit juice, marmalade, eggs and zest. I used my KitchenAid to mix the wet ingredients, then added the dry ingredients: sugar, coconut, semolina, almonds and baking powder. This should form a runny cake mixture.
- Grease and line a cake tin, capacity 1 litre (or 2 x 500 g as the recipe suggests), pour the filling in and bake for 45-60 minutes for 500g, 1 hour 20 minutes or so for 1 litre tin.
- Check with a skewer that the cake is cooked all the way through, if it is clean, it is. I also covered the top with foil to prevent burning, given the longer cooking time for a bigger single cake.
- Just before the cake is ready to come out, add the syrup ingredients to a pan, bring to the boil, remove from the heat and pour over the cake(s) when they come out of the oven.
- I pierced the cake with a cocktail stick to help the syrup percolate and permeate the cake.
- Leave to cool completely then slice and serve with yoghurt and orange blossom water.