French Fridays with Dorie: Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake

caramel topped semolina cake flan de farina

Today’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is not the Caramel Topped Semolina Cake.  There’s a little more backstory as to why I chose not to make Arman’s Caviar in Aspic, but the gist of it is that it is not a recipe I can pull off for breakfast on the same day the post is due.  I’m happy there are a few more recipes I can rationalize preparing and serving before the sun is fully up.

semolina cake flan de farina

The main ingredient for the caramel topped semolina cake is farina (aka cream of wheat) cooked in milk.  We eat a lot of hot cereal for breakfast, and although our favorite is cooked cornmeal, farina is a close second.  Enriching the cream of wheat with an egg is something a Puerto Rican grandmother would probably do, but baking it and serving it as a cake?  Topped with caramel?  Let’s call it flan de farina and serve it for dessert on brunch.  It is too sweet as written to eat as a substitute for the actual cereal.  It could work if cutting back the sugar stirred into the cereal to a scant quarter of a cup.

Since I do not own cake pans, other than Pyrex, I bumped up the recipe by an extra 50%.  E also usually eats the serving of cereal in the ingredients for the cake by himself.  For this recipe, I ended up breaking out the almost 10″ metal flan pan.  I made the caramel directly on the flan pan.  I would have use the square 8″ glass pan, but I got serious flashbacks to the one time I tried to make caramel on Pyrex on the stovetop.  Fire! Glass shards! Sticky sugar everywhere! Now I don’t even dare pour the hot caramel into tempered glass pans or measuring cups.

 

And another way of not forgetting…

This picture would have never made it to my studentweb site back in 1999. It would have destroyed my college activity caterer reputation. 🙂

The original recipe for the caramel-topped semolina cake appeared in Martha Stewart Living.  This is my adaptation, leaving out the dried fruit and adding just a bit of cinnamon to bring it closer to the Puerto Rican breakfast cremita.

 

semolina cake flan de farina
Caramel-Topped Farina Cake
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Originally published in Around My French Table, the recipe also appears in Martha Stewart Living. The proportions are bumped up for a larger flan pan or 10" cake pan.
Servings
8
Cook Time Passive Time
15minutes 35minutes
Servings
8
Cook Time Passive Time
15minutes 35minutes
semolina cake flan de farina
Caramel-Topped Farina Cake
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Originally published in Around My French Table, the recipe also appears in Martha Stewart Living. The proportions are bumped up for a larger flan pan or 10" cake pan.
Servings
8
Cook Time Passive Time
15minutes 35minutes
Servings
8
Cook Time Passive Time
15minutes 35minutes
Ingredients
For the Cake
For the Caramel
Instructions
  1. In a medium/large saucepan, bring the milk and salt to a simmer. Slowly add the farina into the saucepan and stir to avoid any lumps. Cook until the porridge thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Place the saucepan in a cooling rack and let it cool for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  3. In a metal cake or flan pan, stir together the sugar, water and lemon juice. Place on the stove over medium high heat and cook the caramel until it reaches a deep amber color. Watch the pan and remove it from the heat with an oven mitt/potholder once the color is to your liking. Set the caramel aside until it sets.
  4. Stir in the beaten eggs into the cooled farina. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the cake firms and puffs and a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Run a silicone spatula around the cake rim and give the pan a soft shake to make sure it separates from the pan. Place a serving plate over the flan/cake pan and invert the cake, letting any caramel sauce run down the sides. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

semolina cake flan de farina

So… that brings us to the topic of the original recipe intended for this French Friday.

Eduardo is allergic to caviar.  Not to the salmon roe that studs sushi rolls, but to ‘the better stuff’.  On a visit to the kitchen bar at Emeril’s Miami outpost, we were served an amouse bouche that was sprinkled with black caviar.  After we were done with the course, E’s face swelled up, he started sneezing, but thankfully he did not have major difficulty breathing.  He switched from wine to water and enjoyed the rest of the meal as best as he could.  He says that he wants to buy a jar of caviar to test whether he is really allergic or not, but I tell him that he can do it only if I can stab him with an Epipen at the first sign of symptoms.  Since he’s not a fan of needles, and these days the last thing we need is a visit to the emergency room, I opted to do a makeup recipe I had been eyeing for a while.

(And just like that, we got out of making fish jello – er, aspic. Thank you E!)

However, if you want to see Arman’s Caviar in Aspic, plus some very creative licenses my fellow Doristas took with this week’s recipe, I encourage you to look through this link.

French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group where home cooks and bloggers from all over the world share their experiences cooking from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.

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Author:Adriana

Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

22 Responses to “French Fridays with Dorie: Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake”

  1. January 9, 2015 at 9:10 am #

    I think there might need to be a massive “make up” day for this one at the end 😉

    • January 9, 2015 at 9:31 am #

      It might be too early to call it. I bet there were plenty of brave Doristas. 🙂

  2. January 9, 2015 at 9:32 am #

    This is one recipe I missed, too–though I purchased the farina at the time! I think it’s worth a make up 🙂 LOVE the old photo–I think we’ve all had those sorts of kitchen disasters 🙂

    • January 9, 2015 at 9:52 am #

      Looking back at my Pyrex episode, I find comfort in Dorie’s French fries fire story. Cleaning up the mess of shattered glass and hardening sugar was brutal that day. Thankfully there was no major damage or injuries.

  3. January 9, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    Weird allergy… but it will save you money in the long run. I wish I could try your delicious cake, but my allergy is to wheat.

    • January 9, 2015 at 11:58 am #

      Very weird! No issues at all with fish or shellfish. E insists on checking if he’s really allergic sometime soon. This week it just wasn’t meant to be. At least there are many great gluten/wheat free alternatives and baking mixes nowadays for your wheat sensitivity.

  4. January 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

    Ooh, I remember being surprised by how much I enjoyed the semolina cake. I had some rather major mishaps with unmolding it, but flavor was not affected. Sounds like you dogged a bullet this week:-)

    • January 10, 2015 at 11:08 am #

      I treated it exactly as if it were a flan… run the knife or spatula around, shake/twist the mold until the cake jiggles in it and flip it over. A section looked a little wonky but it was nothing major.

  5. January 9, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    I loved this cake! It was one of my favorites! Semolina is used quite often in desserts in the Middle East. My Lebanese grandmother used it quite often to make her mamoul (a Lebanese cookie). I had a pyrex pie plate explode at my daughters house…it was a nasty thing to have to clean up! There were shards of glass everywhere!
    Your cake looks lovely, Adriana, and the video of you caramelizing the sugar is wonderful! Happy weekend!

    • January 10, 2015 at 11:28 am #

      I had to look up pictures and recipes of mamoul. They look lovely, Kathy!

  6. January 9, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    Ah, wise choice. This cake was quite good, from memory. LOL at the caramel story – I once blew up a Pyrex dish on the stove top – gave me a fright but no injuries. I am intrigued by cornmeal for breakfast – I want to try that.

  7. January 10, 2015 at 10:04 am #

    I’ve often eyed this recipe in the book. It looks great and, man, ever since my mom put a pie plate from the oven on her marble countertop and it shattered everywhere I’m also pretty freaked out by that stuff. Thankfully all was okay for you!

  8. TheKitchenLioness
    January 10, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

    Dear Adriana, this is a cake that I have ben wanting to bake for the kids for the longest time – just never found the time…looking at your pretty cake is like a wonderful, gentle reminder to finally make this cake!
    Have a great weekend,
    Andrea

    • January 10, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

      Andrea, it is very easy to put together. I know you will find the time to bake it.

  9. January 10, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    Wow, you’re going way back for that one. I think we made it in one of the first few months. I love the idea of having cake for breakfast, and for me, much better than hot cereal. My mother didn’t like it, so we never ate it. It’s taken years, but I can now eat oatmeal (the steel oats kind) and almost enjoy it. Great catch up!

    • January 10, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

      I’m not sure if I undercooked mine, but it didn’t feel cake-dry. It definitely resembled flan more than cake. I have so much catching up to do, sometimes it feels easier to tackle those first recipes and check them off.

  10. Mary Hirsch
    January 10, 2015 at 7:44 pm #

    Can we talk about that picture? A classic. Probably not Ms. Puerto Rico-worthy but amusing, just the same. I cannot remember if I made Dorie’s Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake or not but it’s definitely worth another try. Although I cannot top E.’s allergic-to-caviar excuse, my driving alone for 1,053 miles should come in a close second. I could make Simplest Breton Fish Soup upon my arrival in California but not the aspic/caviar recipe. Also I had no close relationship with Arman. So, there you go. I will never eat another caramel apple, caramel dessert or caramel anything without first searching it for fine glass splinters. XOXOX

    • January 10, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

      Oh Mary, no need to go that far! I know all cooks and pastry chefs that make caramel for a living know their basics. 😉

  11. January 12, 2015 at 7:57 am #

    That picture 🙂
    I loved that cake and have made it several times since – a much better idea than fish jello.
    XO

  12. January 12, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    Great caramelization video. I need to make this cake as my family loves cream of wheat. As to allergies, I am a Registered Dietitian and a mom of a son with a peanut allergy. I carry an epi-pen daily. I would advise against Eduardo’s idea of sitting down with a can of cavair, the second episode could be worse than the first. I do agree with him as to finding out if he is truly allergic. An allergist can do testing to see if he is allergic. Keeping Benadryl on hand would probably be a good idea. Good luck and wishing both good health.

    • January 12, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

      Thank you, Diane! No caviar for E until he gets tested. I love that we have an RD in our group!

  13. January 12, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

    Thanks for reminding me about the bag of farina I have leftover from making this cake! I have been meaning to try a few recipes with it, including for breakfast. I remember liking this one, but not enough to make it again.

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