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.

Bubble in the Oven


Bubble Deflated


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.

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Posted on 26 November 2010, in French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. FYI, I do have some stainless pans for caramel makers…..

  2. But I picked that pot because it was the perfect size for the amount of caramel I had to make. It was so cute!!!

  3. I made this one this week too! I loved it! Yours looks perfect! Im a hot cereal freak , so I knew it was going to be loved!!

  4. To me – the trickiest part of this recipe was the caramel. Yours has a pretty amber color and looks delicious.

  5. I am glad I am not the only one with wacky bubble (which deflated as soon as it came out of the oven).

    Sometimes, I will sub in a small portion of cream of wheat when making rustic breads/ hearth loaves – most commonly if I am making some that involve corn meal. (Like a 1/4 cup). It adds a little textural interest. Good luck using up your box!

  6. I had a big bubble form, too. So weird. Glad you enjoyed it – mine didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped.

  7. So glad your family liked the cake. I have to admit that I’m looking for another Cream of Wheat recipe too. I make this cake often, but I keep thinking there should be something else I can do with the cereal : – )

  8. Glad you tried it, even though you’re not a hot cereal fan. I put a recipe for Fried Mush up on my post when I made the cake. You might like that to use up some of your CoW. “A bowl of hot cereal is out of the question.” Great quote! LOL

  9. I made it too and loved it!! I have an idea for the left over cream of wheat..Well only if you have snow and slick sidewalks like we do. You can sprinkle it on the ice so people don’t slip!
    Your cake looks so good, much better then mine!!

  10. Enjoyed reading your post. It’s fun to try these new recipes…this is not like others I have tried in the past. We liked it…think it would be great for breakfast or for a light brunch.

  11. I really enjoyed this cake – so much so that I made it three times! The first two tries were with currants and the last with cranberries.

  12. This was a good cake. Not fancy, but very comforting, custardy, and smooth. We ate Cream of Wheat before bed, hot, milky, slightly sweet, so this cake spells confort food for me.
    My mother used to make a dessert similar to this, topped with creme anglaise and fruit preserves. This was one of those “everyday” desserts:)
    My cake came out really nice, but thin (used 9 inch pan, duh!), and the caramel was pretty much absorbed into the cake. But it was delicious!

  13. My Mom adores cream of wheat. I’ve decided that after I try the recipe again, I’ll probably give the rest to her.

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