French Fridays with Dorie: Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake
My mother had a strong aversion to hot cereal, of any kind, which she passed along to me. It’s something I never cared for, though, in recent years, I’ve grown to like a bowl of steel-cut oats on a cold winter morning.
With that said, I postponed making the Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake because the Cream of Wheat it called for made me a little nervous. The instructions were straightforward. Molten sugar for caramel always makes me a little nervous, but I’ve made caramel before. But, from a gustatory perspective, this recipe definitely took me out of my comfort zone.
The result was surprising. It was more like custard than cake. It reminded me of a flan that wasn’t completely smooth. I liked it. I have been visiting my sister Jane this week. I made this for dessert one night, taking advantage of the extra eaters. My brother-in-law Danny and my dad also liked it. Danny thought it would also be good for breakfast.
As for the cooking itself, I had no trouble with the caramel, but as I said, I’ve done that before. Jane’s pots are all Calphalon, so I had to dab the caramel on a white plate to track the color change. It’s definitely easier with stainless-steel colored pots. I think I should have doubled the caramel topping. Jane did have an 8-inch cake pan, and though the heated pan spread the caramel easily, it didn’t completely cover.
I debated about adding the raisins because I don’t like them in baked goods. I polled the eater audience, who voted for the raisins. It was a good choice, especially because it wasn’t a cakey cake.
It also wasn’t the most beautiful cake. Something happened while it was baking, and a giant bubble formed in one quadrant. As the cake cooled, that quadrant deflated completely. I’m thinking that this might have been one of the spots where the caramel didn’t completely cover the bottom of the pan, trapping some air.
Overall, it was a success. I’m not sure I’ll make it again, but more because there are so many more recipes to try than because it wasn’t a good dessert.
Now, does anyone have any suggestions for using up the rest of the box of Cream of Wheat? A bowl of hot cereal is out of the question.
Note that this recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. If you want to read about other bloggers’ experiences making this cake and other recipes from the book, check out French Fridays with Dorie.