Pumpkin Semolina Cake


Although it’s one of my favorites, I haven’t had a piece of pumpkin pie yet this fall. Actually, in the spirit of full disclosure, I did have a few bites of a piece from Mission Pie but that doesn’t really count. I seem to have a tendency to over-do it with pumpkin pie and get a little tired of it before Thanksgiving.

So I wait, thinking of other ways to use pumpkin. I was leafing through my recipe binder the other night and stumbled across this recipe for Pumpkin Semolina Cake. Semolina flour is available in most supermarkets, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding it. It’s often used to make homemade pasta and pizza dough because it has a higher gluten percentage, making pasta stretch easily rather than breaking apart. While Italians use it for pastas, it’s traditionally used in Greece, North Africa and the Middle East to make crumbly baked goods. Because of the high egg content in this recipe, the cake is almost pudding-like with a large, moist crumb (thanks to the semolina flour).

I’d never baked a cake in a water bath before, although I’d heard of people doing so with cheesecakes. It turns out, it’s a common practice with delicate foods and egg-based desserts (of which this is one) because it allows them to cook at a lower, even temperature. This cake is best served warm with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. And I think it’s especially nice served with cinnamon or mint tea. It should tide me over until Thanksgiving when I’ll savor my first real piece of pumpkin pie. However, I loved this cake so much that–dare I say–it could even be a nice substitute.

Pumpkin Semolina Cake

Pumpkin Semolina Cake

  • Yield: 10-12
  • Prep time: 20 mins
  • Cook time: 50 mins
  • Total time: 1 hr 10 mins

From: Cottage Living 

Ingredients

2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 cup semolina flour
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
6 eggs, separated
3/4 sugar, divided

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan, and dust with flour. Wrap outside of pan halfway up sides with aluminum foil, and place in a heavy-duty roasting pan.

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Slowly whisk in semolina flour until smooth. Remove from heat, and place in a large bowl to cool. Add the butter and pumpkin, stirring well.

Sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; fold into pumpkin mixture until incorporated. Beat egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Clean mixer blades, and beat egg whites in a separate bowl at high speed with an electric mixer until frothy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and beat to form stiff peaks. Fold yolk mixture into pumpkin mixture; gently fold in egg whites.

Pour batter into prepared pan, place in a water bath, and bake at 350 F for 50-55 minutes or until set in the center. Out of the oven, remove cake pan from water bath. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Comments

  1. Catherine

    Oh my! It looks divine. Thanks for sharing! Side note: Does high gluten content make breads crumbly? I make honey whole wheat bread weekly and it's too crumbly lately...too much added gluten? TIA for your tips! :)

  2. Megan Gordon

    Catherine: high gluten doesn't necessarily make breads in particular crumbly...in fact, usually the opposite. If your honey whole wheat has been too crumbly, I'd try switching to a white wheat flour (assuming you were using all whole wheat) which has more gluten and will hold your loaf together with fewer crumbs.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Kasey

    What?? This sounds ridiculous. And by ridiculous I mean ridiculously delicious. Semolina + pumpkin, I imagine it would create the most tender bite. Adding to my holiday repertoire!

  4. cook4seasons

    I am on a huge pumpkin AND semolina kick = making this recipe tomorrow!

  5. Sarah, Maison Cupcake

    This looks delicious. Pumpkin desserts are quite unusual in the UK so everyone would love this.

  6. Megan Gordon

    Kasey-Yes, ridiculous is the perfect word. I'm having some for breakfast this morning!

    Karen-Let me know how it turns out!

    Sarah-Really? I didn't know that about the UK. Interesting. You could start some new trends...

  7. El

    Love the baby pumpkins. This cake looks beautiful - a great alternative to pumpkin pie!

  8. ChristinaC

    I made this cake tonight and it is DELICIOUS!!!! So moist and tasty. I didn't have all the spices so I substituted with a bit of pumpkin pie spice and a pinch of chinese 5 space.

    Thanks so much for sharing this great recipe. I'll definitely be making it again.

  9. Sophie

    This looks delcious!! Absolutely stunning too!

    MMMMMMMMMMMM,...all the way!

  10. Dani

    I have confirmed that this cake is, in fact, RIDICULOUS!!!! I made this last night as a test trial and ate it with my husband, warm and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Suffice to say he demolished it in a matter of seconds. I will be making it again this morning to bring to tonight's dinner gathering at my in-laws. And as of 5 minutes ago I called my mother in Florida and she has agreed to phone-bake with me (simultaneously baking, her in Florida and I in North Carolina). She is on her way right now to picking up semolina flour from the store.

    Megan thank you so much for such a delicious recipe!!!

  11. Megan Gordon

    Dani-I'm so excited that you enjoyed the cake...and that you're having a phone-bake with your mom. That rocks. Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy...and thanks for letting me know how it turned out!

  12. Viktoria

    My fav is a Better Homes & Gardens Recipe: Lemonade Roll. It's the same concept as Pumpkin Roll but obslvuoiy you replace the pumpkin with Lemon. It is light, fluffy & scrumptious. I'm actually going to be making it on Friday for the Visdos family Valentine's Day celebration. : ) I have a photo of it that I will put onto fb since I'm not sure how to post a pic to your blog.

Join the Discussion

Fall Baking

Dark and Spicy Pumpkin Loaf

Dark and Spicy Pumpkin Loaf

It turns out that returning from a sunny honeymoon to a rather rainy, dark stretch of Seattle fall hasn't been the easiest transition. Sam and I have been struggling a little to find our groove with work projects and even simple routines like cooking meals for one another and getting out of the easy daily ruts that can happen to us all. When we were traveling, we made some new vows to each other -- ways we can keep the fall and winter from feeling a bit gloomy, as tends to happen at a certain point living in the Pacific Northwest (for me, at least): from weekly wine tastings at our neighborhood wine shop to going on more lake walks. And I suppose that's one of the most energizing and invigorating parts about travel, isn't it? The opposite of the daily rut: the constant newness and discovery around every corner. One of my favorite small moments in Italy took place at a cafe in Naples when I accidentally ordered the wrong pastry and, instead, was brought this funny looking cousin of a croissant. We had a wonderfully sunny little table with strong cappuccino, and, disappointed by my lack of ordering prowess, I tried the ugly pastry only to discover my new favorite treat of all time (and the only one I can't pronounce): the sfogliatelle. I couldn't stop talking about this pastry, its thick flaky layers wrapped around a light, citrus-flecked sweet ricotta filling. It was like nothing I'd ever tried -- the perfect marriage of interesting textures and flavors. I became a woman obsessed. I began to see them displayed on every street corner; I researched their origin back at the hotel room, and started to look up recipes for how to recreate them at home. And the reason for the fascination was obviously that they were delicious. But even more: I'm so immersed in the food writing world that I rarely get a chance to discover a dish or a restaurant on my own without hearing tell of it first. And while a long way away from that Italian cafe, I had a similar feeling this week as I scanned the pages of Alice Medrich's new book, Flavor Flours, and baked up a loaf of her beautiful fall pumpkin loaf: Discovery, newness, delight!

Read More
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie with Kamut Crust

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie with Kamut Crust

I always force myself to wait until after Halloween to start thinking much about holiday pies or, really, future holidays in general. But this year I cheated a bit, tempted heavily by the lure of a warmly-spiced sweet potato pie that I used to make back when I baked pies for a living in the Bay Area (way back when). We seem to always have sweet potatoes around as they're one of Oliver's favorite foods, and when I roast them for his lunch I've been wishing I could turn them into a silky pie instead. So the other day I reserved part of the sweet potatoes for me. For a pie that I've made hundreds of times in the past, this time reimagined with fragrant brown butter, sweetened solely with maple syrup, and baked into a flaky kamut crust. We haven't started talking about the Thanksgiving menu yet this year, but I know one thing for sure: this sweet potato pie will make an appearance.

Read More
For Three Days, A Student Again

For Three Days, A Student Again

This time last week I was up in the Skagit River Valley sitting in the early fall sun eating wood-fired bagels and chatting with farmers, millers and bakers at the Kneading Conference West. I made homemade soba noodles, learned the ins and outs of sourdough starters, and sat in on a session where we tasted crackers baked with single varietal wheats. It was like wine tasting, but with wheat and the whole time I kept pinching myself, thinking: THESE ARE MY PEOPLE! I don't get the opportunity to be a student much these days -- usually on the other side of things teaching cooking classes or educating people at the farmers markets about whole grains and natural sugars. So to just sit and listen with a fresh (red!) notebook and a new pen was surprisingly refreshing. I miss it already. Thankfully, this cookie recipe has come back as a memorable souvenir, and one that is sure to be in high rotation in our house in the coming months.

Read More
Soft and Chewy Ginger Cookies (Plus a Treat for You)

Soft and Chewy Ginger Cookies (Plus a Treat for You)

Strolling New York City streets during the height of fall when all the leaves are changing and golden light glints off the brownstone windows. This is what I envisioned when I bought tickets to attend my cousin's September wedding earlier this month: Sam and I would extend the trip for a good day or two so we could experience a little bit of fall in the city. We'd finally eat at Prune and have scones and coffee at Buvette, as we always do. Sam wanted to take me to Russ and Daughters, and we'd try to sneak in a new bakery or ice cream shop for good measure. Well, as some of you likely know, my thinking on the weather was premature. New York City fall had yet to descend and, instead, we ambled around the city in a mix of humidity and rain. When we returned home I found myself excited about the crisp evening air, and the fact that the tree across the street had turned a rusty shade of amber. It was time to do a little baking. 

Read More
Honeyed Spelt Cornbread with Fresh Cranberries

Honeyed Spelt Cornbread with Fresh Cranberries

I am writing this on Saturday afternoon on a day when we had big plans to conquer pre-baby chore lists, but Sam's not feeling great and my energy's a little low so it hasn't been quite what we'd envisioned. My goals for the morning were to repot a house plant and make some soup and I've done neither. I will say that the sweet potato and fennel are still sitting on the counter eagerly awaiting their Big Moment -- it just hasn't come about quite yet. Sam and I were both going to attempt to install the carseat, but it started to look really daunting so we abandoned ship; it's now sitting proudly in the basement, also eagerly awaiting its Big Moment. So it's been one of those weekends -- the kind you look back on and wonder what it is you actually accomplished. At the very least, I get the chance to tell you about this hearty cranberry cornbread. I know maybe it feels premature in the season for cranberry recipes, but hang with me here: slathered with a little soft butter and runny honey, there's nothing I'd rather eat right now on the cool, crisp Seattle mornings we've been having lately.  

Read More