Yes, I have to admit, I do have a sweet tooth and bake something sweet quite often. In my family 4 o'clock afternoon tea is a cherished tradition. Tea and coffee is something we all drink a lot of. Sometimes I crave Middle Eastern desserts, sweet and syrupy, with ton of nuts and exotic herbs. That is why on my kitchen shelf I always keep handy a bottle of rosewater and cardamon seeds.
I love my Cardamom Semolina Cake because it has semolina instead of regular all-purpose flour. Semolina brings a lot of texture while keeping cake soft so it would melt in your mouth. Rosewater syrup adds Middle Eastern flavors, so you can easily imagine yourself sitting at the coffee shop someplace in Cappadocia, Turkey :)
Semolina: The milled inner endosperm of a hard wheat called durum wheat, semolina is granular in appearance and pale baize in color. The grain is available in coarse and fine grinds. Fine-grind semolina, also called farina, is commonly sold as a brand-name breakfast cereal, Cream of Wheat.
Note: You can find the rosewater in health stores or Whole food markets. Rosewater is - fragrant, clear liquid distilled from rose petals respectively. Usually used to perfume syrups, pastries and puddings.
For the cake:
- 1/2 cup (125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 sup, superfine sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups (300 g) fine semolina
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground cardamom
- 3/4 cup (180 g) plain whole-milk yogurt
- raisins for garnish or blanched almonds, preferable halved (split)
- whipped cream for garnish, optional
For the syrup:
- 2 cups (500 g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) water
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tsp rosewater
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease 8 x 8-inch cake pan or 8 x 12-inch (if you like your cake to be thiner).
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, cream butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift semolina, baking powered, baking soda and ground cardamom twice. Fold into the butter mixture alternately with yogurt.
Spread the batter into a cake pan. Evenly arrange raisins on a top in rows, so that when cake is cut, the raisin will be centered in each piece.
Bake until top springs back when pressed, about 30-35 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make syrup, place sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice and bring to a boil. Boil rapidly for 5-7 minutes, add rosewater. Then cool by standing pan in iced water.
Spoon cooled syrup over hot cake. Cool throughly and cut into squares or diamond shapes to serve. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.