Sometimes you just want a piece of cake. Not anything too fancy, mind you. It doesn’t have to be split into cream filled layers or covered with ganache, it just needs to be cake. A simple cake with a pleasing texture that isn’t too sweet, but also isn’t so plain that you end up feeling like you’ve been cheated out of your craving. While it’s quite true that when it comes to having a certain treat in mind, I tend to get frustratingly specific (sometimes so specific that, in the end, I end up having nothing at all on account of my being too unbendingly persnickety), it is also true that when it comes to having a certain treat in mind, tracking down and creating that treat will bring out in me a caliber of intense effort heretofore displayed only by the likes of Olympic gold medalists.
You may find my persistence puzzling, perhaps even laughable, but I like to consider it a generous service. When you search hard enough for something good enough, you will no doubt be rewarded, as I was by the discovery of this semolina cake. The original cake looked almost right, but the cake I wanted in my mind had a little more to it. Looking for a bit of distinction, I altered the recipe to include a punch of orange zest that gets whirred in the food processor with the sugar, allowing you the double benefit of making not just superfine sugar, but heavenly orange scented superfine sugar.
While the semolina in the cake adds a fantastic, bold taste, it also contributes to the cake’s sturdier texture. The original recipe called for the making of a thick orange syrup to be drenched over the top, but I hesitated at the thought of soaking such a simply-flavored cake in something so intensely sweet.
A simple raspberry coulis turned out to be the perfect pairing in sweetness, and, made with a bit or orange juice, the flavors of the cake and sauce really play nicely with one another.
My desire for cake now satiated, I can only hope that this recipe is able to satisfy another person’s need for cake as well as it satisfied mine. A bit of searching, a bit of testing, and there you have it. And just like that, I am now going to pretend that I am providing an important public service by passing this cake along to you.
Orange Semolina Cake with Raspberry Coulis
Cake recipe adapted from The New Cook, by Donna Hay
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups fine semolina
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour an 8” x 8” square cake pan. Place flour, baking powder, and semolina in a bowl and mix to combine. Combine sugar and orange zest in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, and pulse to combine thoroughly. Place egg yolks, orange-sugar mixture, and oils in a bowl and beat until well combined. Fold egg yolk mixture into flour mixture with orange juice.
Place egg whites in a bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into flour and egg yolk mixture and pour into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until cake is lightly browned on top and a wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for ten minutes, then release onto a wire rack to cool completely.
2 cups raspberries
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Combine ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender and puree until very smooth. Pass sauce through a fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds. Serve chilled or at room temperature.