I have to put this out front: I don’t like semolina. It’s fine in pasta, and I grew up eating — and still enjoy — Cream of Wheat. But I have yet to find a bread recipe made with it that I like. And believe me, I’ve tried. And tried.
Not surprisingly, I didn’t vote for this recipe. In fact, I’d have voted for just about any recipe in the book over this one. But the majority spoke, so I would bake.
Two things about this recipe gave me a small glimmer of hope. First, it was made with Cream of Wheat rather than straight semolina flour. That may not sound like much of a difference, but as I said, I like the cereal, so I hoped the finished product might be more akin to it than to the semolina breads I’ve made. In any case, I hadn’t had Cream of Wheat in a while, and making this recipe prompted me to go out and buy a fresh box.
The other thing about this recipe that encouraged me to try it is that it is a dessert. I’ve rarely met a cake I don’t like, so I was willing to give this one a go. And the promise of caramel didn’t hurt matters, either.
The recipe itself is quite simple. You cook the Cream of Wheat, then add sugar and vanilla. After stirring the sugar and vanilla into the cereal, I was tempted to just give up on the recipe and eat the Cream of Wheat. It was really good, especially while it was still hot.
While the cereal mixture was cooling, I made the caramel sauce, which consisted of sugar, water, and lemon juice. The mixture is boiled and then allowed to keep cooking until it takes on an amber color.
If you make this recipe, be aware that, because it is such a small amount of sugar syrup, it will go from light to amber to burnt really quickly. My caramel had a nice amber color, and it wasn’t until the cake was in the oven and the caramel pan had cooled to the point that I could sample it that I realized my caramel had overcooked and become slightly bitter.
After pouring the caramel into a preheated cake pan, the final step was to mix eggs and golden raisins into the cereal mixture, then put the mixture into the pan on top of the caramel. The cake bakes for about 30 minutes in a 350° oven, until it is puffed up and firm.
I let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turned it out onto a serving plate.
The caramel pooled on top of the cake, and the whole thing smelled really good. I began to think my reservations had been unfounded.
I allowed the cake to cool to room temperature, then sliced it, spooning some caramel onto each slice.
We had the cake for dessert after dinner, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. No one complained about the burnt caramel, although I found it quite bitter. And the cake itself didn’t do much for me, either. It tasted like Cream of Wheat that had been allowed to firm up.
So I guess I’m still batting .000 when it comes to semolina recipes. But I’m not sorry I tried it. And at least I have a fresh box of Cream of Wheat to enjoy as the weather gets colder.