Friday, November 5, 2010

FFwD - Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake



I am a bit of a free spirit. I like being able to make my own decisions, prioritise my work, and structure my day as I see fit, and I can get quite cross when someone interferes with that. Last week, I had permission to work from home for a couple of days so that I could keep an eye on my dear Mum, who ended up in hospital for a week, and I thrived on the freedom of being able to dress as I chose, not having to catch public transport, and being able to eat whatever I wanted to whenever I wanted to with a fully stocked refrigerator and pantry at my disposal. This was my idea of bliss (even if the circumstances in which I attained it were far from ideal).


Accordingly, arrangements for this month's French Fridays with Dorie are right up my alley. While the recipes have been assigned based on the group's votes, this month we have the freedom to make them in whatever order we please. This has worked well for me, as I am afraid that if I had had to come up with a baked chook for this week, it would not have happened, as I only arrived back home late on Tuesday evening from the family home interstate, and I have not had time to shop let alone cook.



For this reason, I selected the Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake as first cab off the rank for this month. The only thing I needed to buy was semolina, although this nearly proved a stumbling block in itself, as I went to three supermarkets and wandered aimlessly down many aisles before I located my quarry. Eventually, the health food section of Champions Super IGA in Little Collins Street yielded the elusive semolina, and I have just made the Friday mark for making and posting my dish.



For the uninitiated, semolina is a baby cereal type product that some people do eat for breakfast, although I am not sure that I am ready for that. The fine yellow grains cook up with milk to form a thick substance not unlike porridge or cous cous, and cooked semolina formed the basis of this week's cake.



The cake is topped with caramel (which is the first component added to the baking tin), and the end result is not unlike a creme caramel, as the semolina base is distinctly smooth and custard-like (albeit studded with raisins).



Unfortunately for me, I did not get runny caramel oozing over my cake; rather, the caramel formed a non-runny layer that sat on the top of the cake. I don't think that this was a barrier to enjoyment; however, it just wasn't what I was expecting from the description in the recipe. A "gotcha" not mentioned in the recipe was that I had to run a knife around the edge of my cake to turn it out, as my first attempt to unmould it left the cake and the caramel steadfastly sticking to the pan.



I enjoyed this cake, although I think it would benefit from substituting the raisins for stewed apple or chopped mango, as Dorie suggested for variations. The raisins were OK, but not as wonderful as a soft fresh fruit would have been with the custard-like base.



You can see what other FFwD members thought of this cake as the month progresses at the LYL link for the Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake on the FFwD website.

30 comments:

Scraps said...

Semolina is also the type of flour many pastas are made out of. I find it most readily in Indian groceries, though, as it's used more frequently in that cuisine.

Kayte said...

Fun to see what everyone chooses to make this week. I'm going with the potatoes as I know what those are supposed to look like and act like, this cake I am still not sure! Yours looks good, I love the color of it! Hope Mum is feeling better.

The Blonde Duck said...

I agree with the apples--apples and caramel are one of the best things ever!

jillbert said...

This is a mysterious cake! As much as I love raisins, it does seem like apples would go better with this one.

Cher said...

I have been eating Semolina(or Farina or Cream of Wheat as known in the States) as a cereal for as long as I can remember - I never thought of it as a baby cereal...but I can see where it would leave that impression.
Fresh fruit (I am thinking blueberries) would be a lovely companion.

SteelCityFlan said...

I've never thought to combine semolina and caramel before, but now that I've read this it sounds like a great combination. And it puts me in the mood for a creme caramel :D

yummychunklet said...

I think your cake turned out great! I'll definitely be using the tip "run a knife around the edge" before turning out the cake when I make this recipe this weekend.

gaaarp said...

I think apples would be good with this cake. I'm a huge Cream of Wheat fan, but this cake seems like an odd combination of ingredients.

Mary said...

I didn't get around to this cake, or any FFwD recipe this week, but I do intend to make it. Your tips will come in handy, and I certainly won't be putting any raisins in mine! Cream of Wheat is a bit like baby food, but I was hoping this cake would be more custardy than the stodgy breakfast cereal. If not, it's a good excuse to eat cake for breakfast!
Hope your mum's on the mend!
:)

Cake Duchess said...

I didn't get the oozing caramel either!lol. I liked it with the raisins, but I think I would like your idea of doing it with apples. :)

Johanna GGG said...

caramel custard-style cake and apples sounds excellent

I have never baked cakes with semolina but have made baked gnocchi with it - but always seems to end up with the last bit in the packet hanging around the pantry

SoupAddict Karen said...

I haven't made this yet, but I agree with you: no raisins. I think I'm going to try apples, as I still positively buried under them....

Steph said...

I did the same with the knife...one look at the cake I was not convinced it would just slide out...so a little knife around the edge and mine easily came out. I agree that the raisins are a little over powering in this rather delicately flavored cake...apples or maybe blueberries (as others suggested) would be a nice change. My caramel didn't ooze either...but you got a much more beautiful golden brown color on your than mine. Really lovely!

Jayne said...

Ooh, bits of apple would be really nice in here...maybe a dash of cinnamon along with the apples, too!

Sis. Boom. said...

I like the idea of subbing in apple! I'm not much of a raisin fan but I'm giving this one a go this week.

Jessica of My Baking Heart said...

Mine didn't turn out as pictured in the book, but I think it's because I used the wrong pan. :/ Sorry to hear about your mom - hope she's doing better!!

blackbookkitchendiaries said...

that cake looks very irresistable:)

Steph said...

I am so excited to make this cake! It looks so yummy! great job!

Lizzy said...

I better start my hunt for semolina now! Your cake looks lovely and I was wondering what I was going to do about the raisins...I like the sauteed apple idea!

Lizzy said...

Your cake looks SO good!! And I love the idea of stewed apples...I haven't read through the recipe yet, and knew I'd need to find a substitute for raisins! Can't wait to try this!

PattiCake said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I haven't made this one yet but did enjoy a breakfast of cream of wheat with brown sugar this morning! It is a bit like baby cereal but brings back good memories for me.

Gloria said...

I love semolina desserts, and this cake look really delicious! x gloria

scrambledhenfruit said...

Looks great! I can't wait to try this one. :) Thanks for the recommendation about subbing the raisins. :)

Lana said...

We ate a lot of cream-of-wheat while growing up. And my mother made a custard-like individual desserts with it, topped with creme anglaise and fruit compote or preserves. We loved them!
Your cake came out looking pretty good. Now that I know to run the knife around the edges, I am looking forward to making this cake.
So far I am really enjoying cooking Dorie's recipes.
Ahhh, working from home, in your pajamas, heaven!

Clivia said...

Thanks for the tip of trying it with a stewed fruit. I wondered whether anyone here would like this cake, but we do like pudding. So I'll give it a try.

Flourchild said...

I have never heard of Semolina until FFWD. I love any hot cereal so I think i I'll like this. Your cake looks good . Im going to make this in a few weeks. Im not sure what to expect!

Rosemary & Garlic said...

My family won't eat cooked raisins. Glad you found the semolina, I use it in some bread recipes.

onewetfoot said...

I didn't get very runny caramel, either. I don't think it affected the taste, though. I used currants in place of raisins, but apple or mango would be great with this cake, too.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It looks delicious Cakelaw! :D And I hope your mum is ok :)

Conor @ Hold the Beef said...

All the best for a speedy recovery for your Mum. I agree with you about working from home, but on the whole my work allows me to wear what I feel like anyway so I guess I'm lucky :)

Although not what you were expecting, I like the look of the harder caramel finish, looks nice and chewy.