Another rainy week in Sydney, the smell of wet earth bring lots of childhood memories, especially the ones I have of my paternal grandmother.
She died of cancer when I was only 4 years old, but left imprinted in my heart, lots of positive teachings. Her strong presence still lives in my daily life. Her nurturing nature taught me how big the little things we women do for the family really are, and how this love put the foundations to raise independent , successful future adults.
The last memory I have from her is on a rainy day. She was baking sweets and bread. I remember her walking towards me and putting a slice of warm cake in my lap, but mostly I remember how I felt when she was around, knowing that I was loved and safe at home despite all the rain that was falling outside my window. It felt so soothing…
On rainy days I also bake … and somehow in that moment I am my mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother and all the women in my lineage that are somehow part of who I am today.
Every woman who heals herself helps heal all the women who came before her and all those who will come after her.” ~ Christiane Nortrup~
This is one of my favorite recipes to bake , with a touch of middle eastern flavors also the favorite of my children. I hope you enjoy it too!
SEMOLINA COCONUT CAKE (Egg free)
For the Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 tbs rose water (optional)
3 tsp lemon or lime juice
For the Cake
2 cups fine semolina (cream of wheat)
1/2 cup unsweetened, desiccated coconut
1/2 cup caster sugar
150 g melted butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup plain Turkish yogurt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
20-30 blanched almonds or almond flakes (for garnish)
• Prepare the Syrup before baking the cake as it has to be at room temperature at the time that you add to the cake.
• Boil the sugar and the water at medium heat. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
• Add the lemon juice and remove the froth that floats to the top.
• Add the rosewater and boil until the syrup thickens a little.
• It will take about 15 minutes to boil the syrup. Once ready, remove from stove and allow to set at room temperature.
• Mix the semolina and the baking soda in a large bowl, then add the coconut, sugar and salt and mix well.
• Add the melted butter and yogurt and mix well with a spoon until well combined and it comes together.
• You could add a little bit more of yogurt if you have difficulty when combining everything. The batter will be thick and come together, almost like a dough.
• Lightly butter a 27 cm (about 10 inch) baking tray before placing baking paper.
• Spoon in the cake batter and even it out on top with a spoon. Allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes, then cut the cake into diamonds or squares (before baking it).
• Place the blanched almonds or almond flakes in the middle of each diamond/square and gently press them down a little.
• Bake the cake at 175 C (350 F) in a preheated oven, in the middle rack of your oven for about 40 minutes or until it looks golden and crisp on top.
• Take the cake out and spread the syrup slowly and evenly on top of the cake. Allow the cake to soak up the syrup for a couple of hours or overnight and cool down to room temperature.
• Then cut the cake again when it has cooled down before serving. You can keep the cake refrigerated, and warm it up before serving.