xmas 2018 - pistachio orange semolina cake

2018 has been very challenging so in September I made the decision to skip Christmas week. However I soon discovered the only thing that brought me peace was baking and soon I'd baked so many items I had no option but to reinstate Christmas week. So welcome to Christmas week 2018. There isn't a theme as such this year except I can assure you that everything is very tasty. Some of the bakes do require a bit more effort or more luxurious ingredients than usual, but then again it's Christmas.

This pistachio and orange semolina cake is adapted from the Pistachio and rosewater semolina cake recipe from Sweet by Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. I'm not a huge fan of cardamom and I didn't want to buy a bottle of rosewater that I was unlikely to use again so I swapped it for the pomegranate molasses syrup that I already had in the cupboard. To decorate the cake I used candied orange rind instead of sugared rose petals.

I also used blood oranges in the cake because they were in season but a regular orange or mandarin would work just as well.

Here's the recipe for you for this deliciously moist cake. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C. This recipe makes a 17cm cake so if you'd like to make a 23cm cake, just double all the ingredients and bake for the same time. 

Pistachio, orange semolina cake, adapted from Sweet
75g pistachios, plus extra chopped pistachios to serve
50g almond meal
60g fine semolina
25g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
pinch salt
150g unsalted butter, chopped, softened
¾ cup caster sugar
2 tsp finely grated orange rind, plus 1 tbs orange juice 
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbs pomegranate molasses
½ tsp vanilla

1 tbs water
2 tbs caster sugar
50 ml orange juice
20 mls pomegranate molasses

Candied orange rind – optional
1 orange, rind removed and finely sliced
¼ cup water
¼ cup caster sugar
Additional caster sugar for coating

Grease a 17cm springform cake pan and line with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180°C.

To make the cake, place pistachios in a food processor and whiz until pistachios are nearly ground. Transfer pistachio mixture to a bowl and add almond meal, semolina, the flour, baking powder and a pinch of fine salt. Stir to combine.

Place butter, sugar and orange zest in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until well combined (be careful not to overwork – you don’t want a lot of air in the mixture). With the motor running, slowly add egg, beating well. Fold through the pistachio mixture, then fold through the juice, molasses and vanilla until just combined. Spread batter into prepared pan and use a palette knife to smooth the surface. 

Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean but a little oily.

In the final 10 minutes of baking, make 
the syrup by placing the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the remaining ingredients and when warm, remove from heat. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, drizzle with hot syrup (it looks like a lot of syrup; the hot cake will absorb it). Sprinkle with extra pistachios and set cake aside in the pan to cool to room temperature.

Remove cake from the pan and scatter with candied orange rind, if using. Serve with double cream if desired.

Candied orange rind - from 
Mix and Bake by Belinda Jeffery
Place the orange rind in a small bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 30 seconds before draining. In a small saucepan combine the water and sugar and bring to the boil. Add the orange rind and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes before removing the pan from the heat and leaving the rind to cool in the syrup. When cool pour the mixture through a fine sieve to drain. Remove the peel and if desired toss through some caster sugar. Place on baking paper and allow to set before storing in an airtight container. I stirred the leftover syrup into the pomegranate syrup and poured it over the cake so none went to waste.

Even though the recipe was heavily adapted from the original it had all the hallmarks of an Ottolenghi recipe - full of flavour, moist and delicious! 

See you all again tomorrow with Day 2 of Christmas week 2018.

Bye for now,


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