Recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Ottolenghi and Tamimi
When's the last time you had dinner with a stranger?
An unexpected thing that this blog has brought into our lives is that we've met so many people not just online, but also in the flesh. Randomly, readers have said hi at the grocery store, at a Broadway play, even at Alcatraz (!). And we've met up with some readers who have come through D.C., like Valerie, who we'd traded emails with for years but just met in person for the first time when we had dinner earlier this year.
And then of course there's Margie, who won our blogiversary giveaway. We felt like we already knew her from corresponding via email, but then again, it's not like we'd ever laid eyes on her. And we definitely knew nothing about her dinner companions. But we didn't really think twice about it. We find that dinner with someone you hardly know can be just as fun as dinner with close friends.
And this dinner was great. We don't mean the food (though we thought it was very good -- thank you, Ottolenghi & Tamimi). Dinner was great because of meeting Margie and her gang, hearing about what she's cooking, their adventures in raising chickens, and comparing notes on recipes. It was easy and funny and a great night.
Every good dinner party needs a good ending. We found ours in these Semolina, Coconut & Marmalade Cakes from Jerusalem.
This recipe quickly rose to the top of our potential desserts for this party because we love an excuse to bake (and can't be trusted with baked goods in the house when no one else is coming over). We were enamored with the idea of coconut and marmalade combined in a nice little loaf.
With these ingredients, these little cakes have lots of flavor, and they have an excellent moistness as well, since you finish the cakes with a orange-blossomed flavored soaking syrup.
The cakes are delightful. Though we had already served a very yogurt-heavy meal (not the best planning on our part), we loved these cakes paired with Greek yogurt (also flavored with orange blossom water). The yogurt's tartness gives a nice balance to the sweetness of the cakes.
This isn't an elaborate dessert, but it's a very good one. Keep it close for summer. It'll come in handy.
Previous entries in this series:
Makes 2, 1-pound cakes
For the Cake:
3/4 cup sunflower oil
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup orange marmalade (fine-cut or without peel)
4 large free-range eggs
grated zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup superfine sugar
3/4 cup shredded dried coconut
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 1/2 Tablespoons semolina
2 Tablespoons ground almonds
2 Tablespoons baking powder
thick Greek yogurt, flavored with 1 or 2 drops of orange blossom water, to serve
For the Soaking syrup:
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon orange blossom water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together the oil, orange juice, marmalade, eggs, and orange zest until the marmalade dissolves. In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients. Mix until well combined. The mixture should be runny.
Grease and line two 1-lb (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches) loaf pans with waxed paper. Divide the filling evenly between them. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until a skewer inserted in a cake comes out clean and the tops turn an orangey brown.
Near the end of the baking time, place the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, start brushing them with the hot syrup using a pastry brush; you'll need to do this in a few goes, allowing the syrup to soak in for a minute or two before you carry on brushing with more syrup. Make sure you use up all the syrup and it is absorbed into the cakes.
Once the cakes have cooled down a little, remove them from the pan and leave to cool completely. Serve with the Green Yogurt, flavored with a drop of orange blossom water.