In essence, this is a classic North African inspired recipe for a moist and syrupy dessert cake that makes an excellent party pudding, particularly for a dinner party. However, the ground almonds more commonly used in North African cookery has been replaced by ground hazelnuts and the fine couscous has been replaced by semolina or polenta.
You could easily revert the recipe back to the original which gave the inspiration for this, but the variant given here is both interesting and delicious... well worth making.
Whilst I was in South African I also made this with mealie (white maize) meal instead of the polenta. This worked well and gave the cake an interesting crunchy crust.
Though this cake works well at tea time, it works equally as a dessert and the suggestions given below are to serve it as a dessert.
Orange and Saffron Syrup Cake RecipeServes: 8
Ingredients:100g (4 oz) hazelnuts, skinned and ground in a food processor
50g (2 oz) semolina or polenta
175g (6 oz) golden caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large oranges
4 medium eggs
200ml (4/5 cup) light olive oil
generous pinch of saffron threads
85g (3 oz) icing sugar
Greek yoghurt (or crème fraîche), to serve
orange segments, to serve
Method:Gently toast the ground hazelnuts in a frying pan, stirring frequently to prevent them from browning. Turn onto a plate, allow to cool then mix with the semolina (or polenta), caster sugar and baking powder.
In a bowl, beat together the finely-grated zest of 1 orange with the eggs and oil. Fold this mixture into the semolina mix then pour the resultant batter into an oiled 23cm ring mould (Bundt pan). Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 180ºC (350ºF, Gas Mark 4) and bake for between 30 and 40 minutes, or until well risen and firm to the touch.
In the meantime, pare the zest from the second orange and shred this very finely. Combine the zest in a small saucepan with the juice of both oranges, the saffron and the icing sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook gently for 5 minutes.
Allow the cake to cool slightly then turn out onto a plate. Whilst the cake is still warm pierce the top many times with a skewer then spoon over the orange and saffron syrup.
Serve as a dessert cut into sections and accompanied by the Greek yoghurt (or crème fraîche) and the orange segments.