Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The inspiration for today's post is the book Eat Love Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert.  She steps away from a life that she thought she dreamed of; a husband, a home and a successful career to embark on a quest of self-discovery.  Liz travels to Italy, discovering the pleasures of eating, tradition, and family; to India, finding the power of prayer and self discipline; and finally to Bali, where she finds not only true love, but a balance of peace with that love.

Starting with Italy, I decided to bake a traditional Semolina Cake.  Desserts in Italy, although very much a part of the meal, are often more simple and never overly sweet.  The semolina is a grainy yellow flour made from durum wheat and makes this cake's texture soft with a very tender crumb.  Adding the caramelized almonds on top contrasts the light, airy interior of the cake.

We may not take off on a journey like Elizabeth Gilbert did in this best selling memoir, but with this cake we can start our own journey of finding the pleasure of eating with our family

Semolina Cake with Caramelized Almonds
8 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup almond paste
1 1/2 granulated sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup semolina flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Caramelized Almonds
1 cup sliced almonds
3 T light brown sugar
1 egg white, whisked until foamy

Preheat oven 350F-degree.  Prepare a 9-inch spring form pan by brushing the bottom and sides with melted butter.  Cut a piece of parchment in a circle to fit the bottom of the pan and brush with additional butter.  Set aside.
In the bowl of the KitchenAid, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and almond paste until fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add  1 1/4 cups of sugar (remaining 1/4 cup of sugar will be beaten into the separated egg whites).  Add the egg yolks, one at a time and incorporated into the batter, then the vanilla and almond flavorings and beat well.  Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the semolina flour.  Add to the batter, alternately with the milk, beating until the ingredients are all incorporated.

Use a hand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy.  Gradually add the remaining 1/4 sugar beating until soft peaks form.
Use a rubber spatula, fold in half of the egg white mixture into the semolina batter.  Once the batter is "lighten" fold the remaining egg whites, being careful not to deflate your batter.

Gently spread the batter into the prepared pan. 
Bake 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare the caramelized almonds.  In a small bowl, mix the almonds, the light brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons of the foamy egg white.
Take the cake out of the oven; the middle should still be a bit "jiggly".  Add the almond mixture on top of the cake.
 Return to the oven and bake another 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  If the top is browning too much, tent it with a piece of aluminum foil.
Let cake cool completely in the pan.  Transfer the cool cake to a serving platter; having the parchment on the bottom helps this transfer.  This cake will keep at room temperature for up to 4 days.  Enjoy!


  1. What a beautiful post!
    I wish you and I could go see the movie together! xo

  2. lovely post, great looking cake .. save me a slice xx always love xx

  3. Yum - another beautiful, delicious looking cake! My husband and I are in Redmond visiting my son and daughter-in-law. I baked your Pistachio-Chocolate Chip Pound Cake today and they all loved it. Thank you so much for sharing your marvelous recipes.

  4. Cake sounds yummy. I loved the food descriptions in Italy in the book
    can't wait to see the movie...thanks for the inspirational dessert meanwhile.

  5. Mary~I live in Redmond! We should have tea:) Thank you for your comment; the Pistachio-Chocolate Chip Pound Cake is one of my favorites.

    Erin~Thank you for calling me and reading passages of EPL; I couldn't wait to read it after you described Elizabeth Gilbert's travels. The movie is very good and I wish I was there to see it with you, but better yet, let's travel to Italy and have a mother/daughter date. xoxo

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  7. Susan you are too sweet! My DDIL sprained her ankle a week before our arrival so she and I have not been mobile (I don't drive here!). We usually spend so much time in the craft stores I'm surprised they don't think we are shoplifting!:D We are definitely hoping to visit Ellen before I leave. Besides seeing my children, a trip to Ellen's is usually the highlight of my visits!:D Athena and I just love Ellen and Cathy!

  8. I could live at Ellen's:) She is so creative and has the best products to "play" with. Have fun and say Hi to her and Cathy for me. xoxo