Another week. Another Cookbook Challenge. We are now onto Week 5 and the theme is Greek.
Book: Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros Theme: Greek Recipe: Semolina & Yoghurt Syrup Cake with Rosewater
I have with me two distinctly Greek cookbooks. One is Falling Cloudberries and another is Greek Cookery from the Hellenic Heart by George Colombaris on loan from Nicole. Good old George. I can’t say I have any affinity with him since I have yet to see an episode of Masterchef and never really took his anti-food blogger rant personally. However, it seems to be a food blogger tradition to have a slight dig at him. So Tessa wins this round with her lovely, more femininely detailed book as opposed to George’s cold masculine writing style. I am also in love with the idea of rosewater in cakes. Nicole, my personal Greek consultant, said ‘you know, Greeks don’t use rosewater that much. That’s Turkish.’ Whatever Nicole. Tessa assures me this is a typical Greek-Cypriot cake!
Rilsta (from My Food Trail) had kindly invited us around to her fabulous home for a baking session on Saturday. It was also where I met up with Agnes (from Off the Spork) and Arale79 (from Meals on Budget) – who were both amazingly lovely and put up with me jabbering away for 6 hours straight. Where do you find nicer people!?! They also showed me baking tricks and tips (‘you have to use a scale!’) and I had a go at Rilsta’s fabulous red Kitchenaid (so hands-off, so not my style of cooking) but I have to say it’s impressively red and much more awesome than my handheld mixer.
So before I go on to talk about all the fabulous things that the other ladies had made, I will write about the cake. As always, this recipe has been heavily adjusted from the cookbook. So please refer to Tessa’s book if you would like her recipe.
Semolina and Yoghurt Cake
This recipe here is being given on grams mainly because, oh my god, I actually (was made to) WEIGHED the ingredients this time!
- 125 g. of unsalted butter, chopped and softened*
- 230 g. (1 cup) of raw sugar
- 250 g. (1 cup) of plain Greek-style yoghurt
- 1 tbsp of rosewater
- 3 eggs, separated
- zest from 1/2 lemon **
- 125 g. (1 cup) of plain flour
- 125 g. (1 cup) of fine semolina
- 2 tsp of baking powder
- 55 g. (1/2 cup) of almond meal***
Preheat the oven to 180′c – no fan.
Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and creamy. Sift together the flour and baking powder and add with semolina to the mixture. Add lemon (or lime) zest, egg yolks, rosewater, yoghurt and almond meal to the mixture and beat until well combined. Whisk egg whites until white and fluffy and soft peaks form and slow fold into the cake mixture.
Line the cake tin (I used 20cm cake tin but I reckon square tin, as Tessa suggested, would have been much better) with baking paper and grease the side with a bit of butter. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for about 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the top browned appropriately. Turn the cake out on a wire rack to cool.
While waiting for the cake to cool, make syrup. You want to pour HOT syrup of COOLED cake so time yourself accordingly.
- 1.5 cups of water
- 1 cup of sugar (or 1.5 cups) ****
- 3 tbsp of rosewater
Bring the water and sugar to boil for five minutes. Add the rosewater. Slowly pour hot syrup over the cooled cake. Keep soaking the cake until it becomes saturated. You might need to stop and give the cake some time to absorb the syrup.
* I prefer to be patient and wait for my butter to soften but time waits for no one. You can soft the butter at 90W in the microwave in 10 second bursts while keeping a very keen eye on it. That way, your butter will soften and not melt.
** Tessa called for lime rind but I only had lemon.
*** I completely forgot to add the almond meal. Baking failed. Make sure you don’t.
**** I had halved the sugar in the syrup because we were going to serve the cake with Rilsta’s home made ice cream which was rather sweet. Tessa had recommended serving it with not-so-sweet ice cream. So I made a decision to halve the sugar. The cake was definitely more than sweet enough with half sugar syrup BUT it did lack the lovely, proper, sugar-to-the-max authentic Mediterranean dessert feel, so you decide. I personally will go the whole hog with the sugar next time because I am all for the authentic taste despite how scaringly sweet it may be.
And now on to the other fabulous food the other girls made. Rilsta made us a comforting, flavoursome moussaka (see her blog post on how to make it) for lunch. It was so nice I would have had seconds if I didn’t have to save room for dessert.
Arale79 made watermelon and feta salad. I have no idea why I don’t have a picture. I’m pretty sure I took at least one. But it was yum. I also made a small bread salad as a lunch contribution.
Agnes made a batch of kourambiedes (Greek almond shortbread). They were crumbly and lovely. They filled the house with lovely buttery scent. She was so efficient with them. I watched in awe.
Great day. Thanks ladies! Additional thanks to the gracious hostess and her hubby who had to deal with a big pile of dishes and me dirtying their pristine kitchen. I am forever grateful for their hospitality.