Tuesday, 2 April 2013

semolina, coconut and orange syrup cake

I am a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes. He isn't scared of strong flavours, the recipes often challenge my preconceived ideas of what ingredients 'should' work together and the methods are usually fairly straight forward. What's not to love? Below is my variation on the semolina, coconut and marmalade cake that can be found in the recent book Jerusalem. I didn't really fancy the loaf shape suggested in the book so I used one 22cm spring form tin. Also, I couldn't find orange blossom water in my local shops so instead created a delicious lemon and rosewater syrup instead. I found it really worked well but feel free to stick with the original if you prefer.


180ml sunflower or vegetable oil
240ml orange juice (roughly two large oranges)
160g orange marmalade (fine cut or peel-free)
4 medium eggs
grated zest of 1 orange

70g caster sugar
70g dessicated coconut
90g plain flour
180g semolina
2tbsp ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder

200g caster sugar
140ml water
1 tbsp orange blossom water (or 2 tsp rosewater (or to taste) and 2 tsp lemon juice)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN/gas mark 4. Grease and base line your tin.
  2. Mix together the wet ingredients until fully combined.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients then add the dry to the wet and mix thoroughly. The mixture should be quite runny.
  4. Bake in the oven for around 45-60 mins or until a skewer comes out cleanly.
  5. Towards the end of the cooking time combine the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a gentle heat then remove from the heat. 
  6. When the cake is cooked remove it from the oven and use a skewer to make small holes all over. Carefully pour over the warm syrup making sure you use it all. In Jerusalem they recommend brushing the syrup over and waiting for the syrup to be soaked in before repeating then continuing the process until all the syrup is used. I am far to impatient to do this but by all means feel free to do it yourself. I found with my method all the syrup got used and nothing bad happened so all is good.
  7. Leave the cake to cool down a little before removing from the tins to cool completely. 
  8. Serve with greek yogurt or creme fraiche, flavoured with orange blossom water if you fancy. 

thai feasting - part 1 bangkok

I was lucky enough to be able to spend a couple of weeks over Christmas and New Year in Thailand. It was the perfect way to escape the usual pressures and expectations of this time of year and to get some sunshine too. It has taken me a while to get round to posting about my adventures and I will explain why soon. I've recently been checking out this website called Import Food. It's got lots of great videos and excellent recipes too. Well worth an explore if you're interested in learning more. Enjoy!

Whenever I go somewhere on holiday I always try to seek out new tastes and ingredients in an attempt to better understand the flavours that make up country's food. In a short trip I was never going to completely get to grips with all of Thai food. Instead I decided to set myself the challenge of seeking out the best pad thai I could find and to indulge in the kinds of street foods that I can't get back in London.

Pad thai quest part 1
Pad thai is the national street food dish of Thailand. On most street corners you can find a cart dishing it out. Like most national dishes, everyone has their own way of putting it together but this video recipe from SITCA is a great place to start. This recipe also seems to come close to the dishes we ate. We started our search at Thip Samai because it is recommended in numerous food and travel blogs as serving 'the best' so we had to give it a go. This was going to be the pad thai by which all others were going to be measured so it made sense to start at the top. Thip Samai serves numerous variations on the standard dish but we went for the 'superb pad thai'.

Once you've place your order you're brought a selection of accompaniments. We got banana flower, bean sprouts, spring onions and lime segments. On the table were already pots of crushed peanuts, chilli sauces and chilli flakes.

Here's the pad thai when it arrived. I loaded mine with extra peanuts and chili flakes because I'm a bit of a chili fiend given half the chance. I was particularly taken with the presentation of the dish with the noodles carefully wrapped in a fine omelette. 

Now, perhaps unsurprisingly I'm a bit of a greedy person so a little later I was after something else to eat. Close to our hotel in Bangkok was a busy little market stretching the length of the street with numerous tasty treats on offer. If in doubt in a new country I'll go for something I've never had before and I couldn't resist finding out what 'coconut egg' was. During the rest of our time in Thailand I never found another stall serving these curious little things but it's definitely something I want again. They were crunchy, crispy gooey, sweet but a little savoury all at once. A very special little thing. I've done a some internet research since returning and I think it was Khanom Buang. Check out this page for more info. This is a neat video showing how another lady makes them.

Our next culinary stop was at one of the ubiquitous roti pancake carts in the same market. Normally when making crepes and pancakes you start with a batter and pour it out on to a hot griddle. Not with these glorious beauties. The stall holder started out with a little ball of dough and deftly pulled it out so that it was transparent and paper thin before putting on the griddle. Here's a lovely video of a stall holder in action. The skill of the food stall holders in Thailand is incredible. The speed and skill they repeatedly demonstrate is awe inspiring.  I couldn't resist the classic banana and nutella combo topped off with a drizzle of condensed milk. Yum!

follow me

Follow Us