Vegan Olive Oil Rosemary Semolina Cake

4.8 (4)
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Vegan Olive Oil Rosemary Semolina Cake

This moist, rich Vegan Olive Oil Rosemary Semolina Cake showcases how olive oil can make a great combination of sweet and savory when it's paired with fresh rosemary. Early on in the design of this cake recipe I was really liking where this cake was going but I knew I cold take it further. I remembered how olive oil tends to go seamlessly with pasta dishes so why not use the same type of flour for an olive oil cake?

Luckily, I was able to find semolina flour in the local health food store. Semolina flour is ground from the endosperm of durum wheat and is yellow in color due to its high protein content. This high protein content makes semolina flour extremely coarse and brittle in a cake recipe if you use traditional cake baking methods. I soon learned that if you soak the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients for about 8 hours, the semolina hydrates and turns into a pudding-like consistency. This could be perfect as cake batter but how am I going to evenly disperse baking powder and baking soda into cake batter and expect even leavening?

I had good results mixing the baking powder and baking soda into a ½ cup of all-purpose flour then mixing that into the cake batter just before baking but I wanted a cake that was 100% semolina flour. If the batter has to sit for 8 hours to hydrate then why not use yeast for leavening instead of chemical leaveners like baking powder? I'd be able to make a 100% semolina flour cake, the yeast would produce flavor compounds that would further compliment the cake and it would be one less step. A triple win!

This cake doesn't really need frosting due to it's savory and sweet flavor profile but drizzled with Orange Icing it's literally icing on the cake. This cake is a little time consuming but you're probably not going to find this at a bakery due to the cost of the ingredients and time involved in it's preparation.

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Vegan Olive Oil Rosemary Semolina Cake Recipe

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ounce  (about ¾ cup) fresh rosemary pulled from its stem
¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup water, warm
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

2 ¼ cups + 2 Tablespoons water
3 ½ cups semolina flour
3 Tablespoons golden flax meal
5 Tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed and unfiltered from about 1 medium size orange
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Orange Icing

1) Prepare the herbed olive oil

In a small saucepan whisk together the olive oil and rosemary. Bring the oil up to about 100 - 150F (38 - 66C) then remove from heat. Set aside for about 10 minutes then strain out the rosemary. Transfer the olive oil to a separate container and allow it to cool to room temperature. Feel free to place the olive oil in the refrigerator briefly to speed up the cooling process.

Steep the rosemary in the olive oil

2) Activate the yeast

In a medium bowl whisk together the warm water and yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes so the yeast activates. 

3) Soak the wet ingredients

Add the 2 ½ cups water, semolina flour, flax meal, orange juice, sugar, lemon zest, salt, black pepper and rosemary infused olive oil to the bowl containing the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, cover the bowl with plastic wrap poked with a few holes then let it sit for about 8 hours.

4) Mix the batter, transfer it to a bundt pan and preheat your oven

Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Lightly coat a bundt pan with vegetable oil. Transfer the mixture to the bundt pan and spread the batter until it's well distributed. Lift the bundt pan a couple inches off the counter and drop it a couple times to eliminate large air bubbles. Cover the bundt pan with plastic wrap poked with a few holes and allow it to sit for 2 hours. About 45 minutes before the 2 hours is up, preheat your oven to 325F (163C).

5) Bake the semolina cake to perfection

Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool to room temperature before inverting the bundt pan and carefully tapping the edge of it on the counter to release the cake.

6) Drizzle your icing

Drizzle Orange Icing over the cake and let it sit for about an hour for the icing to solidify before serving. Cake will keep for 7 days covered at room temperature.
This recipe makes one Vegan Olive Oil Rosemary Semolina cake.

Get a price on the Bundt Pan I Recommend at Amazon.

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Could you substitute the semolina for 00 flour?

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Rosemary is good in everything. Love this.

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I would give it 6 stars if i could

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thanks for sharing this! Such a good recipe!

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Worth the Effort

This cake is sublime. It truly is moist and has lovely flavor with the orange melding into the rosemary and yeast. I would agree that it is almost savory, so the sugar and citrus in the icing are really charming.

During the process, I was questioning whether active dry yeast was really such an important substitute for baking soda, since I too dealt with a lot of "batter overflow" control during the proofing stage. My suggestion is to let the proofing happen in the original bowl like the first rising rather than doing it in the cake pan. Then put the batter into the prepared bundt pan immediately before baking. This saves a large mess on the outside of the bundt pan, and gets the cake into the oven faster following the proofing. Climates vary - but my batter had a personality of its own.

It was so good, I'm going to make this cake again next week. Thank you for your time and attention to your recipes. Wonderful site.

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2 and 1/2 or 1/4

The list of ingredients has 2 and 1/4 plus 2 table spoon and the directions has 2 and 1/2 cups of water...?

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Worth the trouble, albeit a lot of trouble

Oh, Mattie.
I was intrigued when I came across this recipe, having loved the flavor of rosemary all my adult life and having wanted to make a semolina pudding cake for months but not finding the right recipe. Though this clearly isn't a pudding cake, it really fit the bill. I made a few augmentations, listed:
1. I infused the olive oil with the rosemary a few days ahead of Baking Day to enable a cooling off (10 minutes wouldn't do and I didn't want to kill the yeast with the hot oil)
2. I skinned and pulverized three Valencia oranges--I wanted to use mineolas for flavor, but my market was out--to make the juice a day ahead. As I included some pith, the orange juice sort of gelled to my surprise. I think the pith contains a degree of pectin. It tasted bitter out of the VitaMix, but the sugar in the cake batter ameliorated that, as I expected it would.
3. Because I used a pureed orange, I decided not to use lemon zest.
I otherwise followed your instructions as closely as I could. Without a mixer handy, I used a large whisk to stir. The dough's first rise was 8 hours and despite the punctures in the saran wrap, it rose too much and spilled out of the large pyrex bowl. The second rise lasted 2 1/2 hours--also nearly overflowed. The cake itself *just* finished baking, and it looks like it shrank in the oven: The sides against the bundt pan are taller and brown, and the paler cake has a slight rise but is still not as high as the dough originally was during its rise in the pan. I'm sure when I invert the cooled pan, the disparity in the height of the sides v. the middle won't show. It smells divine, and I'll post my success with the icing under the icing recipe. The thought of this cake has inspired me to curate a breakfast party and menu. Thank you for this fabulous experiment! Can you advise what might have happened regarding the first rise? Too much sugar? Not enough salt? Maybe pureed oranges have too much sugar? Maybe I should've added the warmed oil to kill off some of the yeast?

Owner's reply

Thanks for your detailed review savvyamy! I just updated the recipe to allow the olive oil to be cooled to room temperature before adding it to the batter. Thanks for letting me know about that! That's interesting that it rose so much for you. For me it just rose slightly. It may have to do with temperature differences in our kitchens. I know that since you added three oranges, there was probably a little bit more sugar for the yeast to eat which may have slightly contributed to the more aggressive rise. The salt and oil are not supposed to reduce the yeast action in any way in this particular recipe. If I get more reports of the rising getting out of hand I'll consider reducing the yeast slightly. Thanks again!

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I have made this cake now twice with great success. Once substituting lemon juice for the orange juice ... Just as good. Delicious, thanks for posting it.

Owner's reply

I'm so glad you like the cake Mona! Thanks for sharing!

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