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Orange Syrup Semolina Cake

This wonderful cake is moist and dense, and just delicious with a dollop of crème fraîche served alongside! Semolina is flour made from durum wheat, and you’ll want to be certain to purchase fine semolina because coarser grades will yield a gritty cake. We like to purchase it in bulk at Whole Foods, but Bob’s Red Mill also offers semolina in a small package. This recipe comes from a new book called The Creamery Kitchen, by Jenny Linford. We purchased ours in England but learned after carrying it home that the book is also widely available here as it was published in both places simultaneously. Note at the bottom of this post that it is easy, as we learned from the book, to make your own crème fraîche at home — you only need time!

Orange Syrup Semolina Cake

For the cake

10 tbs. butter, softened
¾ cup plus 2 tbs. caster (superfine white) sugar
grated zest and juice of ½ orange
2 eggs
6 tbs. crème fraîche*
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup plus 2 tbs. fine semolina
a pinch of salt

For the orange syrup

juice of 1 large orange
¾ cup caster sugar
1 tsp. orange flower water

crème fraîche*, to serve

Heat the oven to 350°F.  In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until well-mixed. Add the orange zest and juice, then the eggs, one at a time, followed by the crème fraîche and mix well. Add the flour, baking powder, semolina, and salt, and fold in. Transfer to a loose-bottomed 8-inch cake tin (springform pan) and bake for 1 hour until golden-brown.

While the cake is baking, prepare the orange syrup. Place the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan and gently heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and wait until the pan has cooled, then mix in the orange flower water.

Test whether or not the cake is ready by piercing with a fine skewer: if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked; if not bake a few minutes longer.

Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Pierce the top of the cake all over with a skewer. Pour over the orange syrup, then cover the cake and set it aside to cool and soak up the syrup, a few hours or overnight.

Serve in slices with crème fraîche on the side.

* To make crème fraîche, mix together 1½ cups heavy cream with 3 tbs. cultured buttermilk. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 7-10 hours until the mixture has thickened. Chill until required.

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