This one-layer Semolina Cake has a moist crumb and pleasantly crunchy surface. Sweetened with blackberry lilac citrus simple syrup, this vibrant dessert is perfect for spring and summer.
Semolina Cake is unlike any other one-layer cake you’ve tried. It’s impeccably moist and just as soft and tender as a classic Lemon Cake but features a citrus syrup-soaked and crisp outside. The simple presentation and citrus flavor are sure to impress everyone!
Semolina flour is what makes this cake so light, delicate, and nutty. While it’s commonly used to make pasta or couscous, it’s also an ideal choice when creating delicate cakes, bread, and pies.
⭐ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Why make a semolina cake? The reasons are endless:
- You don’t need any special equipment or electric mixers.
- It’s an easy one-layer cake recipe that comes together in a pinch.
- No icing or frosting is needed! The decorations are simple, yet elegant.
- Every slice is deliciously moist and sweet.
Semolina cakes are traditionally doused in syrup to keep them moist for days and this recipe is no different. It features fresh lemon juice and my homemade Blackberry and Lilac Simple Syrup, infusing a wealth of flavor that’s perfect for spring and summer. Decorate the finished cake with fresh lemons and blackberries, and enjoy!
❓ What is semolina flour?
Semolina flour is made from durum wheat. This gives it a coarser consistency and a darker, golden color. It’s most commonly used to make pasta and couscous but is also a fantastic baking flour due to its high amount of protein and gluten.
- Semolina flour - This wouldn’t be a semolina cake recipe without it! You should be able to find it with the rest of the dry baking essentials in most major grocery stores.
- Eggs and dairy - A combination of room temperature eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter lend plenty of moisture to the cake, resulting in a super soft and tender crumb. Want to make your own buttermilk from scratch? Check out my guide for making homemade buttermilk or vegan buttermilk!
- Vanilla extract - Make your own from scratch or use a quality pure vanilla extract.
- Brown sugar - The added molasses in brown sugar deepens the indulgent flavors in the cake. Both light and dark brown sugar work well (dark brown sugar is slightly sweeter).
- Lemon zest and juice - The zest brightens up every bite of cake and the juice is used to elevate the blackberry lilac syrup.
- Blackberry lilac syrup - Pouring simple syrup infusions over the top of semolina cakes help retain moisture and add flavor. In this case, we’re combining lemon juice with blackberry lilac syrup.
📖 Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk the semolina, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.
Step 2: Add the wet ingredients. Whisk the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla into the dry mixture until smooth. Finish with the brown sugar and lemon zest, then whisk to combine.
Step 3: Bake the cake. Pour the cake batter into a prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Step 4: Make the syrup and pour it over top. Make the syrup by stirring the lemon juice and blackberry lilac syrup together. As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, pour the syrup slowly over the top. Leave it to cool completely, then remove it from the pan, decorate and slice!
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- No buttermilk at home? You can make homemade buttermilk by combining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with 1 cup of whole milk.
- Pour the syrup over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. The heat will loosen up the syrup and help it seep down into the cake.
- Decorate the cake with sweetened lemon slices, blackberries, shredded coconut, candied rose petals, pistachios, or dried citrus fruit slices after the syrup has been added.
⏲️ Substitutions & Variations
Semolina cake is an easy cake to customize for year-round celebrations. The easiest way to do this is to mix up the citrus simple syrup variation! These are a few of my favorites:
- Orange semolina cake - Simmer fresh orange slices in equal parts water and sugar until it thickens into a sticky orange syrup.
- Ginger and cardamom semolina cake - Simmer sugar and water with 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger and 6 whole cardamom pods.
- Cinnamon semolina cake - Simmer the simple syrup with cinnamon sticks.
💭 Recipe FAQs
Absolutely. Follow the recipe as written, except pour the batter into a lined muffin tin and bake for 15 to 20 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean).
Semolina is clearly the better option when it comes to the flavor and texture, but you can use white all purpose flour in a pinch. Be sure to measure all dry ingredients by weight for consistent results.
Semolina cake is best enjoyed the same day, but it can be stored in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. The cake will begin to lose its moisture and become dry the longer it sits.
Semolina cake, known by different names across the Middle East, Greece, and Turkey, uses coarse semolina or fine semolina as a staple ingredient. This gives the cake a unique texture and nutty flavor, distinguishing it from cakes made with regular wheat flour. Typically moistened with sugar syrup or orange blossom/rose water, it's a delightful treat for those with a sweet tooth.
Certainly! Both coarse semolina and fine semolina can be used in semolina cake recipes. Coarse semolina imparts a grainier texture, while fine semolina offers a smoother consistency. Your choice will depend on the texture you prefer, but both types infuse the cake with a distinct nutty flavor. Always refer to the original recipe to ensure best results.
❄️ Storing and freezing
To store: If you aren’t serving the cake immediately, keep it refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.
To freeze: Wrap the cooled whole cake or individual slices in plastic wrap, place in a freezer-safe bag or container, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.
More citrusy desserts to try
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Semolina Cake with Blackberry, Lemon & Lilac Syrup
- 2 cups (334 g) Semolina
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
- 1½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ⅔ Cup (135 g) Brown Sugar
- 2 Eggs, large
- 1¼ Cups (300 g) Buttermilk
- ¾ Cup (170 g) Melted Butter
- 1.5 teaspoon Vanilla
- 4 Lemons, zested
Blackberry, Lilac and Lemon Syrup
- ¼ cup (150 g) Granulated Sugar
- ¼ cup (177 g) Water
- 3 Tablespoons Lilac Blossoms
- ¼ cup Blackberries, muddled
- ½ cup Lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Whisk together your dry ingredients first - the semolina, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.2 cups Semolina, 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder, 1½ teaspoon Baking Soda, ½ teaspoon Salt, ⅔ Cup Brown Sugar
- Add the eggs and buttermilk, whisking to combine.2 Eggs, 1¼ Cups Buttermilk
- Finally add the melted butter, grapefruit zest and vanilla whisking until smooth.¾ Cup Melted Butter, 4 Lemons, 1.5 teaspoon Vanilla
- Pour your batter into an 8-inch cake pan that has been greased and lined with parchment paper - bake for 25 minutes, or until your cake passes the toothpick test and allow it to cool completely.
- Throughout the time that your cake has been baking, you'll want to prepare your syrup. Add your sugar and water into a saucepan until the sugar has completely dissolved and you start to see some bubbles at the bottom of your pan. Then add the lilac blossoms and muddled blackberries into the syrup - stir and allow to infuse for about 30 minutes. Add the lemon juice into the syrup right before continuing onto the next step.¼ cup Granulated Sugar, ¼ cup Water, 3 Tablespoons Lilac Blossoms, ¼ cup Blackberries, ½ cup Lemon juice
- Once you have removed the cake from the oven - immediately pour your syrup slowly over the top. Allow for the cake to cool completely and then remove from your cake pan. Garnish with lemon slices, blackberries and lilac blossoms if preferred - then slice, serve and enjoy!
- To store: If you aren’t serving the cake immediately, keep it refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.
- To freeze: Wrap the cooled whole cake or individual slices in plastic wrap, place in a freezer-safe bag or container, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.