What kind of holiday do you look forward to? Are you a lounge by the pool with a good book person or are you a non-stop site-seeing kinda guy? Personally, I’m happy to lie by the pool or on the beach and get through as many books as I can. Saying that however, I am getting into sightseeing trips, as long as it is a short city break or alternated with a lazy day!
A first for me this year though was dipping my toe into international baking. I was out in Cyprus with my family and boyfriend staying in the most beautiful villa. Compared to staying in a hotel, being in a villa provides a kitchen and a random arrangement of utensils and an oven you can barely use.
But my heart was set and I was determined to bake, no matter what!
As I was out in Cyprus I was sure that the bake I wanted to attempt was to be Cypriot, and a quick Google brought me to this recipe for Galombrama; a semolina cake soaked in syrup. Galombrama translates as “Good Thing” and a good thing it certainly was! An added bonus was the simple ingredients needed for this cake, so I could pick up everything I needed from the local corner shop.
Galombrama is usually flavoured with rose water and topped with almonds but I chose to leave these out as 1) i’m not a massive fan of rose water/Turkish delights and 2) my brother has a severe nut allergy so including the almonds wouldn’t have been the best idea! But I will include the quantities suggested in the recipe if you wish to experience the full flavours of this cake
In most cases when I research a recipe I will be drawn to those which use grams as the unit as they are generally more accurate. However our reasonably well stocked villa kitchen was rather absent of kitchen scales, so a recipe using American cups was the way forward!
Of course, this brought its own bout of problems including having no idea what the volume of a “cup” was, so a bit of making it up as I went along was needed. All things considered, it went really well!
The semolina I used out in Cyprus was much coarser than that I used when I repeated the recipe at home. Initially I thought it was quite grainy and an unusual texture. But in fact, since using the finer grain as home I think I prefer the coarser texture. It made it a little different and with enough sugar syrup soaked in the cake it wasn’t dry at all.
- 4 medium eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar (175 g)
- 1 cup milk (250 g)
- 1 cup vegetable oil (200 g)
- 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
- Few drops of rose water (optional)
- 500 g semolina (coarse)
- Handful of halved, skinned almonds for decoration (optional)
For the sugar syrup:
- 400 g sugar
- 350 ml water
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon of rose water (optional)
- 3 cinnamon sticks (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon whisked into the syrup if like me you don’t have any cinnamon sticks)
- Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk together. Add the sugar, milk and oil and whisk again. Add the rose water if using
- Add the semolina and baking powder and whisk again until fully incorporated.
- Pour the cake into a lined/oiled dish. Use a deep dish to keep the cake thick. The foil tray I used was about 8″ in diameter and the tray at home was a brownie tray (~30 cm x 15 cm).
- Stud the cake with almonds if using. Place in rows so that when cut each slice has an almond in the centre. Bake at 170°C (fan) for 30 minutes. Turn half way to brown evenly.
- While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Add the sugar, water, lemon juice and cinnamon sticks to the pan. Heat on medium until the sugar fully dissolves. Bring the syrup to the boil and boil for a couple of minutes.
- Remove the cinnamon sticks. If using, sprinkle in the ground cinnamon and whisk thoroughly to stir it through the syrup. It won’t dissolve so your syrup will be speckled with brown.
- Once the cake is cooked through (a skewer comes out clean) and lightly brown, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
- Whilst in the tray cut the cake into diamonds (around the almonds if used). When both the cake and syrup are hot, pour the syrup all over the cake. Let the syrup fully soak in before adding any more.
- If possible, leave the cake to soak up all the syrup for a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
- Serve with tea/coffee and a dollop of Greek yoghurt or vanilla ice cream.