Monday, 26 March 2012

Semolina and Almond Cake

We were in Edinburgh for the weekend, without any of the 3 little ones.  A whole 2 days and 2 nights without being referred to as Mammy and Daddy.  No baby wipes, nappies, bread sticks, teddies or scooters stuffed into my handbag.  No walking around with sick on my shoulder as I look for somewhere to change a dirty nappy.  I even had time this weekend to paint my nails green - oh, the sheer luxury of it.  The best part of the weekend?  Two unbroken nights sleep and being able to sit in a cafe reading the Sunday papers - totally minor things to most people but pure bliss to me.

Our reason for going to Edinburgh was tinged with sadness.  We were at a fundraising night for a very sick little 3 year old.  He has a rare and aggressive form of cancer with a shockingly low survival rate.  How his Mum and Dad can face each day so positively is beyond me but they are taking one day at a time and sometimes even one hour at a time.  Regardless of the level of care and love of the medical staff, no little 3 year old should have to spend their days in hospital, being pumped with drugs.  No little 3 year old should have to remain in isolation because of infection and not see his 2 year old brother for weeks and months on end.  We all hope and pray that a cure can be found for little Alex - fast. 

You never know what's around the corner.  As a great philosopher once said, "Life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it".  I came home on Sunday afternoon and hugged my little demons so hard that I may have hurt them.  We have a lot to be thankful for. 

You can have a look at this link for more info. on brave little Alex.
I had this recipe bookmarked for quite a while so I made it as a treat when I came home.  It's a Nigella cake that I've changed quite a bit, although I've kept to the core ingredients.  Semolina is used in place of flour which gives it a lovely crunchy texture that you'd expect from using polenta.  The original recipe calls for cardamom in the cake but instead I've used ground cinnamon and almond extract.  Also, a cold lemon syrup is poured over the hot cake and although Nigellas original recipe uses orange blossom water and rosewater, I left them out.  The result was an extremely most lemony and almond cake, with a subtle hint of cinnamon.  Delicious.

Semolina and Almond Cake, adapted from Nigella Lawsons "Sticky Semolina Cake" recipe.


For the syrup
250g granulated sugar
150ml water
Juice of 1 lemon
For the cake
300g semolina
150g granulated sugar
125g butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
2 heaped tablespoons natural yogurt
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
25 whole blanched almonds

Make the syrup first.  Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and place on a low heat until the sugar dissolves.  Add the lemon juice and turn up the heat and boil for 5 minutes.  Take off the heat and allow to cool.  Then place in the fridge  to chill.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and butter a 23cm square baking tin.
Place all the cake ingredients (except the whole almonds) into the food processor and blitz until it forms a batter.  Pour into the prepared tin and level the top.
Dot the cake evenly with the almonds in 5 rows of 5.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until golden.
Pour the cold syrup over the hot  cake and allow to cool in the tin.
Cut into 25 squares, with a whole almond on each slice.
This cake will keep for at least 5 days wrapped in parchment paper and kept in an airtight container.


  1. That poor little boy, my thoughts are with his family and I hope that something can be done.

  2. That looks delicious. My grandmother used to bake something similar when I was little. :)

  3. London Bakes - Thanks Kathryn

    Katie - Really delicious cake, a favourite of mine just now.