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Who doesn’t love the look of an upside-down cake?

This semolina cake has that unique semolina mouth feel that entertains your tongue while all three permutations of citrus sparkle on your taste buds.

Inspired by the ambrosial slices of revani (greek semolina cake) found in tavernas across Greece. As a little girl I remember sitting down on a lemon blossom night to a slice so generous it was seemingly cut from the moon itself. Each rich forkful a play between burnt sugar, orange marmalade, and soothing vanilla.

“Gradually the magic of the island settled over us as gently and clingingly as pollen.”

-Gerald Durrell, My Family and Other Animals

The first time we rode the train from Athens to Denmark my mother sat us (her daughters) primly, properly, oh so Danishly on either side of her on the bench, in the railway compartment.

As the train pulled from the station a sound arose like the flapping of wings, the rustling of grasses, it was the greek matrons unwrapping a feast of wax paper swaddled food.

While our mother had carefully packed enough dry sandwiches to last us the journey, these grecian goddesses unpacked a bounty from their hand woven baskets.  Whole mahogany chickens emerged, roasted lemony potatoes, oranges and watermelon materialized. Loaf upon loaf of fresh bread was torn or sliced and passed around.

Visitors came and went from the other compartments sharing food and laughter.

The train had become a village, a home and we as foreigners were their guests. They insisted we share in their well laid table.

Like the never ending silk scarves of a magician, no sooner had one course been cleared then another appeared, cakes, pastries, fruits, all was shared. Coffee and tea could be bought from your window at train stations and drunk while the train was at the platform.

The perfect cake for an impromptu picnic. This cake was meant for sharing.

[Telemachos] saw Athene and went straight to the forecourt, the heart within him scandalized that a guest should still be standing at the doors. He stood beside her and took her by the right hand, and relieved her of the bronze spear, and spoke to her and addressed her in winged words: ‘Welcome, stranger. You shall be entertained as a guest among us. Afterward, when you have tasted dinner, you shall tell us what your need is.’ ” -Homer, The Odyssey 

 

 

5 from 3 votes
Print
Orange Upside-Down Semolina Cake
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 15 mins
 

A moist Orange Semolina Upside-down Cake that will have your friends swooning with each orangey bite. 

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Servings: 8 people
Ingredients
For the Cake
  • 3/4 cup melted non-dairy butter - 1 tbsp
  • 1 1/2 cup coarse semolina flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plain thick non-dairy yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup aquafaba*
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
For the caramel and oranges
  • 3-4 oranges
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp orange blossom water
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molases
  • 1/2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 3 tbsp orange liqueur
Instructions
  1. Oil a 9 inch springform pan and heat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Slice your oranges into thin half rounds or full circles. 

  2. Place brown, white sugar, orange liquor, and pomegranate molasses into a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. After simmering for 4-5 minutes add the butter and stir until incorporated.  Remove from heat and stir in the orange blossom water. 

  3. Pour the caramel mixture evenly onto the bottom on the prepared pan. Arrange thinly sliced oranges in a pleasing concentric pattern at the bottom of the pan. (You'll not there are two differently patterned cakes photographed for this post. 

  4. Whisk semolina, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, cardamom, and salt in a medium bowl. 

  5. Whisk yogurt, orange juice concentrate, vanilla  and aquafaba together into  a large bowl. I just whisk in the orange concentrate frozen cause it melts and incorporates quite easily.

  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until fully incorporated. Now stir in the melted butter. 

  7.  Pour the batter over the sliced oranges into the prepared pan.

  8. Bake  55–65 minutes until set. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Place a plate over top of pan, unlatch the springform hook, say a prayer cake and flip.

  9. This cake keeps marvelously well tightly wrapped and placed in the fridge. I've kept it up t three days in the fridge and when I unwrapped it it was as moist as the day I made it.

*Aquafaba is the liquid left over from cooking legumes. It was first discovered a french tenor named Joël Roessel. An american (at least I think he is american) named Goose Wohlt picked up the torch and furthered investigations into this magical liquid. It is seriously magical, the holy grail for vegans as they could suddenly whip up meringues and macaroons and use it in all sorts of innovative ways. There is a marvelous Facebook Group called Vegan Meringues Hits and Misses. They are an amazing inclusive helpful innovative bunch of people. I highly recommend you check them out.

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It would make my day if you left me a comment. If you make one of these recipes please let me see by tagging @SunnysideHanne on Instagram, I’d love to see.

Comments

  1. Jeweled citrus gleaming on a soft bed of semolina. Perfect with smokey caravan tea or a strong small coffee. One bite makes you feel like you’re sitting on mounds of colorful embroidered pillows on the floor of a sheik’s palace. A whole slice makes you feel as though you are the sheik yourself.

  2. This my dear makes yesterday’s lemon drizzle that I made seem so very irrelevant. Love your writing style; I was there with you in the train compartment.

  3. The words you write as almost as delicious as I imagine the cake to be. Your crafting and telling of the story is sublime. (and if ya wanna send some cake my way, that would also be sublime, methinks)

  4. An eye-popping cake that reclaims the color orange! I’d love to try to make this for my in-laws when they visit next month. What can I substitute for pomegranate molasses? In the cake part of the recipe, I can use vegan margerine for butter, right? How do I know if the aquafaba is reduced enough?

    • The pomegranate molasses just adds a sour-sweet touch to the caramel. It is pretty minor. You could add the same amount of any not too sweet jam. Like raspberry or cherry. You want to reduce the aquafaba from a can by say 25%. It will have a slightly gelatinous tacky texture like raw egg whites but slightly thinner. Vegan margarine is a fine substitution. Good luck!!

  5. Thanks! One more newbie question: what kinds of canned beans have the best aquafaba? (I’m enamored of that word: it sounds like the name of a mad Roman emperor.) I’ll make two of these cakes at the same time: one to serve and eat and one to shellac and hang up on the wall (in lieu of the sun).

    • I prefer chickpeas. Deciding on a pattern is so much fun. Leigh is making hers with grapefruit for a pale design, I’ve made it with blood orange, navel and some small tangerine like citrus. All Hail! Aquafaba!

  6. Oooh, those variations must look amazing. What about kumquats (as if I could ever find them where I live)? If I could use the words “kumquat” and “aquafaba” in the same sentence (other than this one!) I would be really chuffed.

  7. Just to bring things back down to Earth … I appreciate the Durrell quotation in this post. My Family and Other Animals was one of the books we used to read aloud from at dinner (see comments to the previous post), as you remember. I tried to read passages of My Family and Other Animals aloud to your niece a while back but I was laughing so hard I couldn’t get the words out and the tears were streaming. I think that more than anything else I was remembering how funny it was when we first read it, at the old kitchen table. Your niece and your brother-in-law thought I was off my rocker. Which I was.

  8. Luscious photos and descriptions that make me salivate!!!! Excuse me while I go shopping. Keep your stories, recipes and photos coming please. You warm my heart.
    Alison Gold

  9. When you mentioned Gerald Durrell I was smitten, but when you mentioned Greek mythology, I was completely bowled over!
    I love your style of writing! Could almost smell the food being unwrapped in the train carriage!

    Best,
    Radhika

  10. Hi Johanne,
    I don’t have semolina flour, but am thinking of swapping it out for 0.5 cup AP flour and 1 cup cornmeal since the cake seems to have a consistency similar to cornbread. Any thoughts on if this is a “recipe for disaster”? 🙂

  11. Thank you for this inspiring recipe! I made this recently for my 43rd birthday. I treated myself to some new ingredients I had never used before – namely the semolina flour plus the pomegranate molasses and orange blossom water which I purchased from Amazon as a lovely flavor trio that also included rosewater! I am delighted to have since learned new ways to use those items from facial toners to culinary and mixology uses! The cakes (I made two) turned out excellent! This was the first time using aquafaba (I also joined the Facebook group you suggested!). I started out by reducing canned garbanzo bean aquafaba and cooking it only to find it was THINNER. I proceeded to open a new can and used the aquafaba straight from the can which worked out perfectly for the cakes. I will make this recipe again! Thank you!

    • I literally did a little happy dance when i read this comment. Happy Birthday! I’m glad I had a small part it your special day. It is wonderful to discover new ingredients. Pomegranate molasses is delicious in salad dressing, marinades and soups as well.

      • Thanks again, Johanne! I’m looking forward to using orange blossom water, rosewater, pomegranate molasses and aquafaba more in recipes and would be delighted to try any recipes you might share! 🙂

  12. Can’t wait to try this!!! I take it that you mean 1/4 cup aquafaba and not 1/4 cup of kahlua in the cake mix. Been wanting to find a vegan citrus semolina cake for ages 🙂

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