Lemon & Semolina Syrup Cakes

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The Reveal:

A lemon cake was perfect – not only for the season (it finally feels like summer is around the corner!), but I was hoping for a simple recipe this week. It’s an especially busy time at work, and my mom was here for a fun visit to celebrate my aunt’s birthday. I could easily fit this cake into a Sunday afternoon.

Yotam introduces this on page 111 as something reminiscent of his childhood in Jerusalem, where there are many different types of syrup cakes. I was to expect a “smack of citrus” from this version. I had a conversation with a friend recently, who mentioned that he didn’t understand why people travel for food. WHAT? I didn’t say anything at the time, but I am absolutely one of those people. In my opinion, it’s all part of experiencing a new place, and discovering new flavours and ingredients. Yotam’s remark caused me to dream up future food adventures.

The Bake:

Before baking, I turned on a Motown essentials playlist inspired by the musical I recently saw with my mom, sister, and aunt. It turns out that the legendary hits of Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, and The Jackson 5 are excellent baking songs.

After creaming together the butter, lemon zest, and sugar, I tossed in the almond flour and beat the mixture until smooth. This dry ingredient was added before the eggs, which I thought was strange. Earlier in the day, I went to my handy Italian market to pick up some quality semolina flour. I’m lucky to have this nearby, because it doesn’t seem that many grocery stores carry this ingredient. Now I’m tempted to try handmade pasta!

I added the remaining dry ingredients followed by the fresh juice of 1 lemon. There was a bit more juice than what the recipe called for, but I love lemon (who doesn’t?) and didn’t want any to go to waste. I scooped the mixture into large parchment cups in a muffin tin, and topped the batter with thin slices of lemon. It’s a bit difficult to cut even slices, and I highly recommend a sharp knife.

Once the cakes were in the oven, I squeezed yet another lemon, and put the sugar and juice over the stove to make the syrup. I don’t think it’s possible to fit any more lemon into these cakes. They would surely explode or something.

Immediately after removing the baked cakes from the oven, I drizzled a heaping spoonful of the syrup over each one. They smelled very lemon-y and delicious.

The Taste:

I tried biting into the cake with the lemon slice, but I should’ve known better. The burst of citrus was welcome, but the pulp and rind were not. I’ve always had an aversion to certain textures. Once the slice was removed, I could properly enjoy the lovely yellow cake. The syrup added mouthwatering zing to the soft, spongy cake. I need to make these again for my lemon-loving friends. Yum!


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