I'm of two minds with desserts from western Asia and North Africa. On one hand, they use a lot of dates and raisins - neither of which I'm fond of. On the other hand, they use all kinds of great stuffy like delicate pastry and rosewater and honey and nuts. I could eat baklava and its ilk all day if I didn't have a mild allergy to walnuts. Some of the analysts and salespeople in my office make trips to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from time to time and they always bring back pastry for the office. I love the honey-drenched phyllo and the pistachio nuts. Sometimes they bring back almonds that are as big as walnuts. These are Middle Eastern desserts that I consider just dreamy.
Anyway, I'm one of those people who is always bookmarking and saving recipes and acquiring cookbooks with the intent that "someday" I will make this recipe. My entry in the food blog world has made me even crazier because food bloggers have so many unique ideas and heirloom recipes and interesting spins on recipes that are already published.
While browsing Fun and Food, one of my favorite food blogs I found this cake recipe. I had some semolina left over from my ravioli experiment a while back and I was pretty sure I had some rose extract left over from the time I made pistaschio-rose ice cream with lemon cake. I had the same reaction I have to many of the recipes I see on this and other food blogs which is, "I have to make this sometime."
I took a long hard look at the recipe and said, "Screw that. Someday may never come. I'm going to make it *tonight*. I don't care if it's a weeknight and it's laundry night and I have no forthcoming occasions that require a cake. I'm going to make a cake just to have a nice piece of cake."
The cake was quite simple to make, although for me it was not without mishaps. I had purchased my semolina in bulk and wasn't sure exactly how much I had left. It turned out I had slightly less than two cups. I made up the difference with all-purpose flour. I don't think I sacrificed taste and texture too much. Then it came time to make the syrup. I searched high and low and could not find the rose extract. I could have sworn I kept the bottle around just in case I needed it, but I must have decided I hadn't used it in a while and thrown it out. (What was I thinking? The stuff isn't cheap.)
I ended up adding extra lemon to the syrup and even steeped some of the lemon peel in there. The cake was delighfully sweet and sticky and rich, but did lack a depth of flavor. Looking back I realize I should have added some cardamom or a shot of amaretto to the syrup instead of just the lemon.
Nonetheless, it's still a great cake. It's delightfully sweet and sticky. It's very easy to make for a weeknight snack. I'm glad I made myself bake it last night.