It’s the start of winter. The skies are clear and the air is crisp, until about 10am when it starts to warm up and you wonder why you thought wearing a cardigan was a good idea. Living in a subtropical climate comes into its own at this time of year. All the benefits of a sunny day without the harsh temperatures of summer. And as an added bonus, you get to pull up the blankets at night and snuggle in your quilt as the mercury plunges down to 12 degrees celsius. I’m continually perplexed as to how 12 degrees here feels so cold, whereas the same temperature in other parts of the world almost feels like summer.
But musings on the weather have absolutely nothing to do with lemon pistachio semolina cake, except that it too is amazing and there’s nothing like eating cake when the weather is just right. (That’s the other negative thing about summer: it turns you off baking and food in general!) So with the onset of cooler weather the oven has been getting a bit of a workout. No more energy balls, which only requires the use of a food processor, now it’s cake and biscuits on rotation.
This recipe was inspired by the recipe for an orange pistachio slice that I found in Commonsense Baking (Murdoch Books). The problem was I wanted to use lemons and make a cake, but the idea was firmly founded on page 180. I love this cake because it is very lemony, has the crunch of pistachios, and the moistness that you think of when dreaming of syrup cakes. We tucked into this cake when it was still warm. Maybe because we just couldn’t wait or maybe because it’s one of those cakes that’s more like a dessert and when it’s warm it tastes even better. You decide…enjoy!
- 80 grams unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
- 150 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
- 160 grams caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-3 lemons (175ml of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon zest)
- 2 eggs
- 100 grams fine semolina
- 140 grams self-raising flour
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 50 mls lemon juice
- 50 mls water
- icing sugar, to dust
- double cream, to serve
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line an 18 cm round cake tin with baking paper.
- Beat the butter and 160 grams of caster sugar in a large bowl using electric beaters, until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest and eggs. Beat until combined.
- Add the flour, semolina, semolina and chopped pistachios to the bowl. Fold in the dry ingredients using a large metal spoon, until just combined. Do not over-mix.
- Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface.
- Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack, placed on a tray.
- Place ½ cup of caster sugar, 50 mls lemon juice and 50 mls water in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
- Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then simmer for 5 minutes. Cool slightly.
- Pour the syrup over the warm cake.
- Dust with icing sugar.