Semolina-lemon Syrup Cakes


These extra moist lemon cakes came about from Yotam Ottolenghi and his team cooking their way through the dessert recipes for his new book, yet to be published.

According to the article in the April issue of Bon Appetit, Cook Like a Pro, these cakes started out in a loaf tin, then ended up in the muffin-pan zone. Yotam Ottolenghi liked the version with the lemon slices on top. Others on his team disagreed. The Bon Appetit’s recipe came without the lemon slices. I added them back so that they clearly looked like lemon cakes. I was baking and serving an orange cake at the same time for company. It was an all citrus dessert ensemble and didn’t want to confuse my guests as to which was which.

I have served the orange cake several times and it has proven to be a consistent crowd pleaser. But this lemon cake recipe was sort of untested, other than the reputation of the chef who created it. What better time to put these lemon cakes up for direct tasting comparison?

Guess what, these little lemon cakes were instant winners, favored by the majority of my friends. The taste was utterly lemon forward. Six tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and one teaspoon of grated lemon zest poured into the syrup for just 12 little cakes was nothing short of bold. The cakes were moist and marzipan-y in the center. 

The key is to beat the butter and sugar thoroughly for a full five minutes (see the cheat sheet below for details), giving these mini cakes lift.

There was nothing left for me to take a second bite. I’d have to make another batch to satisfy the test-kitchen scrutiny and for the IHCC’s June potluck gathering! Just the right excuse to bake more of these truly lemon-iest lemon cakes.

The lemon-iest lemon cakes


200% column doubles the recipe to make 24 mini cakes


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  • Reply
    June 27, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Someone brought little cakes like this to a farewell arty the other day, they were fantastic and now I'm wondering if it isn't this recipe. They were gobbled up quickly. What a pretty display. Great recipe, glad you posted it.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Ultra lemony cakes sound like the perfect dessert to me.

  • Reply
    July 2, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Those sound really delicious. Our tree usually has at least a few lemons, but not now, so will have to wait a bit, but they're on the to do list for sure. I might add a sliver of lemon to the tops before pouring on the glaze. What do you think?

  • Reply
    July 3, 2016 at 1:40 am

    Putting the lemon on top was an afterthought. Adding lemon before pouring on the glaze does more than to impart an extra lemon flavor. Very good idea, Claudia!

  • Reply
    July 3, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    I wish I had a lemon tree in my garden. This little cakes look appetizing

  • Reply
    July 3, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Yum! I love how you describe the marzipan-y centers. Lemon and almond are such a delightful duo. These are so elegant with the lemon slices on top!

    Excited for another YO book. Hooray!

  • Reply
    Joyce Rachel Lee-Bates
    July 4, 2016 at 4:40 am

    I'm never a fan of lemon cakes until recently. And these little ones look so delicious I want to eat a few now. 🙂

  • Reply
    Lydia Filgueras
    July 4, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    My husband is constantly asking me to make revani, which is mostly semolina. He also enjoyed a Valencian orange cake I made with almond flour. Therefore I'm confident he'd love these little cakes. Love the idea of baking them in muffin cups, but I think they'd disappear just as quickly as the other two cakes did! 🙂

  • Reply
    Deb in Hawaii
    July 5, 2016 at 2:20 am

    Lemon always wins in my book–I will pick it over most any other flavor in cakes and desserts. These little cakes look and sound absolutely delicious. 😉

  • Reply
    July 5, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    These little cakes are crowd pleaser, indeed!

  • Reply
    kitchen flavours
    July 10, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    I love semolina cakes and with lemons even better! I would be happy to gobble a few of these down with a mug of warm tea!

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