Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Apple semolina cake

Russian cake recipes

By Monday the boiled fruit cake I baked last Friday was a distant memory. To cheer up my guys after school, I baked a simple semolina cake. I haven't baked it for over a year, if not longer, so had to buy a box of semolina (Whitworth's).

Semolina or manka (aka mannaya krupa) in all guises and disguises is a staple ingredient of many Russian dishes, from a semolina porridge for children (standard in nurseries and primary schools, and typically rather awful) to dumplings for stews and soups, from coating to cutlets to all kinds to cakes and bakes.

If you like random facts about world cuisine, you might have heard of the Guriev kasha, which is a dessert made from semolina, with layers of creamy milk skins, walnuts, vanilla, candied fruit and apricot sauce. It's named after Count Guriev, who was the Minister of finance in the early 19C.
The story tells that Guriev has first tasted this dish at some Mayor's house, loved it so much that he bought the chef (a serf) and his family. The chef's name - Zakhar Kuz'min - was forgotten, while the dessert became known as Guriev's kasha (see V.Kovalev, N.Mogil'nyi, Russkaya Kukhnya, 1990).

There are hundreds of semolina cake (or mannik) recipes on the Russian sites and food forums, each cook has their own "secret" ingredient. The recipe below is very much what we'd cook in the Soviet times (minus the apple rings).

Russian cake recipes, Russian recipes

Apple semolina cake
200g semolina
200ml kefir (or milk mixed with a couple of tbsp of soured cream or Greek yogurt)
3 medium eggs
150g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
200g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
150g butter, melted
60g apple rings, chopped (or raisins, or a grated carrot)

First mix the semolina with kefir (or milk) in a mixing bowl and leave it for half an hour.
Beat in the eggs and sugar, and mix well. Add the lemon zest, sift in the flour (leaving 1tsp to dust the apple pieces), baking powder, and melted butter, mix well.
Slightly dust the chopped apple rings with flour and mix into the cake batter. It will be quite fluffy and thick.
Oil the cake tin with the oil spray of your choice. I like to use the avocado oil spray, as it has a neutral taste, but plain butter will do (that would be more authentic actually).
Scoop the cake batter into the cake tin and place the tin in the oven preheated to 180C.
Bake for 40+ minutes. Check readiness with a wooden toothpick, if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
Eat warm or cold, slightly dusted with icing sugar.
You could also do a light lemon icing drizzle over the top.

It's a tasty cake, with a fluffy, slightly grainy texture. Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

Russian cake recipes

As mentioned above, you could add raisins instead of apples, or grate a carrot. Or leave it plain, without any fruit or veg.

Russian recipes

Russian cake recipes

This cake will keep well for a few days, if stored in a tin.

Russian cake recipes


  1. Wow, that looks tasty - I could eat a piece right now ! I love the story of how it came to be created too :)

    1. Thank you, Cheryl, the cake is so easy to make. :)

  2. This looks amazing. Will it work with milk instead of kefir? I'd like to try a dairy free version.

    As for the semolina porridge (I call it pudding), I imagine it was pretty similar to the ones we had in Romania. Recently I made a orange blossom semolina pudding, topped with rose jam. It was amazing. :)

    1. To be honest, I just don't know. Coconut milk will probably be fine, but you'd also need a dairy-free butter. Your pudding sounds wonderful.

  3. This look so yummy. I was looking for a recipe with semolina. This look so perfect.

    1. Thank you, Leila! It's a very easy cake, hope your guys will like it.