Even though I am visiting Toronto for a few days, I am still able to attend this week’s Fiesta Friday and bring with me not only a delicious semolina cake, but also Bob the Dog, whom I am cat sitting for a few days. Bob has been with us now for 18 years when we adopted him in Singapore. Since then he has been the charge of and companion to our youngest daughter. He has lived in four different countries, 6 cities, and visited several others. He likes to travel. So here he is, well behaved as always.
And now for my recipe. If you have been following this blog at all lately, you will know that the wild grape harvest is really not happening in my neck of the woods. I had a lot of ideas of what to do with grapes, but most of it will have to wait for a better season. However, with the very small amount of pressed grape juice I do have so far, I wanted to use it in a way in which its flavour and beautiful colour could be appreciated. You could use any fruit concentrate or jelly for this recipe, or if you have wild grapes, simply simmer in water until they are very soft, and then pass them through a food mill. The recipe I chose to make is based on one from Naomi Duguid’s Burma, Rivers of Flavours, which is more than just your usual cookbook. The author’s own travels, photographs and research provide a fascinating account of this little-known country.
There are many different versions of semolina cake and, in my opinion, they are all delicious. I have had a Sri Lankan cake with cashews, a Brazilian one with coconut, and a Greek one covered with orange syrup to name just three. Semolina is made from durum flour, usually used in making pasta, and when it is toasted, as in this recipe, it makes for a rich, nutty flavour. I followed Naomi’s recipe fairly closely with a few minor changes. I used butter instead of oil in the mixture, and omitted the butter she drizzled on top of the cake before baking. Where she grilled the cake with some almond flakes after baking, I just added some grape and honey syrup thickened with cornstarch and sprinkled on some toasted coconut.
Burmese Semolina Cake with Wild Grape Glaze
Ingredients for the cake Ingredients for the Glaze
1 cup semolina flour 1/3 cup concentrated grape juice
1 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup liquid honey
1/2 tsp. salt 1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup fresh or canned coconut milk
1 cup warm water
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup toasted coconut (optional)
Heat a heavy skillet on medium heat and add the semolina. Stir it as it cooks until the colour turns noticeably from a pale yellow to a deep golden colour. Remove it from the heat and continue to stir until the pan cools down. Add the sugar and salt and transfer it to a bowl. Add the coconut milk, the warm water and eggs and mix until thoroughly combined. Let rest for about half an hour.
Melt the butter in saucepan over a medium heat and add the semolina mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon as you would making porridge, until it becomes thick and comes away from the side of the pan (about 10 to fifteen minutes). Pour it into a slightly greased pan or skillet and pat down until flat. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about half an hour, until the top feels dry and firm.
While the cake is baking, put the cornstarch in a small bowl and pour the grape juice over it and mix until well blended. Heat the grape mixture with the honey over a medium heat for about five minutes, until it is well heated through and slightly thickened. Set aside. If using the coconut, brown it in a skillet over medium heat until golden in colour.
Remove the cake from the oven and drizzle the glaze over it. Sprinkle the toasted coconut on top.
As you can see from the pictures, this is not a light fluffy cake. It is more like a halva with a distinct flavour of semolina. It stores well to.