Lemon semolina cake

Lemon Semolina Cake

This recipe comes from the NBC Sunday Night Football cookbook. It was difficult for me to try, since it comes under the Green Bay Packer banner (from Sanford D’Amato in Milwaukee), but I forced myself to give it a whirl because it looked so great. And it was. This is a terrific summer dessert because it’s light and fruity, and it is also an excellent make-ahead dish. In fact, the last time I made it, the cake achieved the perfect consistency and flavor three days after I made it. The syrup had soaked in completely and had really influenced the texture. This is great news during the hot days of summer when you don’t want to turn on the oven during the day – make this on the coolest night of the week and let it sit for a few days.  I found semolina at Woodmans, and I have seen it at Whole Foods. You should also be able to find it at an Indian grocery store.


For the cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups fine semolina
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (original recipe calls for 1 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons

For the syrup:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

For the Lemon Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 T. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 T. grated lemon zest
  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish


Make the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and baking soda, set aside for 15 minutes
  3. In a large bowl, combine the semolina, cardamom, baking powder, salt, butter and sugar.
  4. Add vanilla and lemon zest to the yogurt mixture, then add that mixture to the semolina mixture.
  5. Transfer the batter to the baking dish, smoothing with a rubber spatula to evenly distribute. This is a pretty thick batter.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until lightly browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack.
While the cake is baking, make the syrup:
  1. Combine sugar, water, juice and zest in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves
  2. Bring to a boil without stirring, washing down any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.
  3. Boil until the mixture is a runny, thin syrup consistency, about 10 minutes.
Finish the cake:
  1. While the cake is still hot, use a very sharp knife to cut into squares, then cut each square in half diagonally to form triangles. Pour the warm syrup evenly over the cake.
  2. Let it sit for at least a day.
Make the lemon cream (do this the day you serve it):
  1. Use an electric mixer to beat the cream with the sugar until soft peaks form.
  2. Fold in the sour cream and lemon zest.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Whisk lightly before serving
  1. Arrange 2 triangles of cake on dessert plates. Top with some lemon cream, garnish and serve.

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