Auntie Loulla (Loulla Astin) is my mother’s sister and the award winning restaurateur of the famous Kosmos Greek Taverna in Manchester.
Her career has seen her cook on TV many times, including presenting her own cookery series on SKY and she was even invited to meet The Queen at Buckingham Palace. (She made the monarch laugh and even reminded her Prince Philip is of Greek descent). Only Auntie Lou!!
Here she shares her Semolina Cake recipe with you which is available at her restaurant.
Over to Lou:
Sometimes this cake is known as ‘Kalon Prama’ in Cyprus which translates as “Good Thing” and is certainly is just that. In Greece they make a similar cake and they call it ‘Semeli’, ‘Samali’ or ‘Revani’, but they are not the same as my recipe which has evolved over the years. I make this cake in my restaurant and it has been praised in the Good Food Guide entry. After the cake is baked it is drenched in warm syrup (a Greek and Middle Eastern tradition) which helps to keep the cake moist. It’s a truly delicious treat.
200ml (7fl oz) vegetable oil
275g (10 fl oz) caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1 medium orange juice and zest
a few drops of vanilla extract
450g (1lb) natural yoghurt
450g (1lb) coarse semolina
150g (5 oz) plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
28 blanched whole almonds
!For the syrup:
275g (10 oz) caster sugar
1/2 litre (1 pint) water
2 small cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves or 2 stars of aniseed
juice and a peel of 1/2 a lemon
Pre heat the oven to 180 ° c/ 350° f or Gas Mark 4.
In a large bowl, mix together the oil and the sugar and gradually beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the orange juice, zest, vanilla extract and the yoghurt.
Add the semolina and the sifted flour with the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and stir until smooth.
Pour into a greased and floured baking tin 30cm x 20cm (12inch x 8 inch) and spread the mixture evenly.
Arrange the almonds in 7 equal rows across the cake, so that when the cake is portioned you will have 2 almonds per portion or decorate it as you like. Bake the cake in a pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes or until the cake is golden brown (test with a skewer).
While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes or until the syrup has thickened slightly. Remove the cake from the oven and prick all over with a fine skewer and spoon the warm syrup over the cake.
Leave to cool and cut into rectangular shapes.
N.B. It will be easier to mark out the portions before placing the almonds on top.
Recipe ©Loulla Astin.
Food Photos © Peter Broadbent .
Do also join Loulla’s private Facebook Group which has thousands of members: Loulla’s Recipe Share.