• Orange blossom, yoghurt & semolina cake (Chris Middleton)Source: Chris Middleton

Semolina gives this cake a fine texture, while orange blossom water and orange zest gives it a subtle perfume. 






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I based this cake on the one I made for our wedding cake, over a decade ago. As soon as I tasted that hint of orange blossom and the texture I love from the semolina, I was instantly transported back in time to that happy and fun day.


  • 450 g (1 lb/2½ cups) fine semolina 
  • 225 g (8 oz/1½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour 
  • 120 g (4½ oz/1 cup) almond meal
  • 1½ tbsp baking powder
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) butter, softened
  • 230 g (8 oz/⅔ cup) rice malt syrup
  • 1 tbsp finely grated orange zest
  • 8 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp orange blossom water 
  • 1 tsp liquid stevia
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz/2 cups) natural yoghurt
  • 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) buttermilk

Swiss meringue buttercream

  • 150 g (10½ oz) egg white (from about 4-5 eggs) 
  • 260 g (1 lb 2 oz/3¼ cups) dextrose
  • 350 g (1 lb 9 oz) butter, cut into cubes and slightly softened (it should be 
soft enough to leave a dent from your finger when lightly pressed)
  • 1 tsp beetroot (beet) juice, 
or a few drops of natural pink food colouring
  • orange blossoms or other edible flowers and citrus leaves, to decorate

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time: 1 hour

Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F (fan-forced). Grease a 6 cm (2½ in) deep, 23 cm (9 in) round cake tin and a 7 cm (2¾ in) deep, 18 cm (7 in) round cake tin. Line the bases and sides with three layers of baking paper, extending the paper about 5 cm (2 in) above the edges of the tins. 

Sift the semolina, flour, almond meal and baking powder into a large bowl. Beat the butter, rice malt syrup and orange zest with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs. Fold in the orange blossom water and stevia, and then add the combined dry ingredients alternately with the yoghurt and finally the buttermilk. 

Divide the cake mixture between the two prepared tins so that it reaches the same height in each tin. Smooth the surface with a spatula and bake for 45–50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

For the Swiss meringue buttercream, put the egg white and dextrose in a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (the bowl shouldn’t touch the water) and whisk until the dextrose dissolves and the egg whites are quite warm. Test this by rubbing a little of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger – the mixture should be smooth, not grainy.

Beat the egg white mixture with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until you have a meringue that is thick and glossy, and the side of the bowl is at room temperature when you touch it. This will take about 10 minutes, depending on your mixer. 

With the mixer on medium speed, add the cubes of butter gradually, beating well between each addition, until the meringue is silky smooth. You may find that the mixture will separate and curdle at some point in the mixing process – do not panic, if you keep beating it should come back together. If the room temperature is too warm (around 18°C/64°F is ideal) and the mixture seems quite soft, pop the bowl in the refrigerator for 10–15 minutes to cool it down. 

Transfer about 160g (5½ oz/1 cup) of the buttercream to a separate bowl. Gently stir in enough beetroot juice to get a pretty pink colour to add a ‘watercolour’ effect to the cake. If the cakes are slightly domed, trim the tops off to level them with a long sharp serrated knife. Cut each cake in half horizontally. 

Put a little dollop of frosting in the centre of a serving plate and place four strips of baking paper around the edge. This will help to keep the plate clean of any icing. Place one of the large cake layers on top and spread about 160 g (5½ oz/1 cup) of the plain buttercream over the cake, taking it just over the edge. Top with the remaining large cake layer and spread another cup of buttercream over the top and side of the cake. Scrape off any excess icing and discard it (especially if it contains crumbs). This is called the ‘crumb coat’ and will help to keep the final layer of icing crumb-free. Put the cake in the refrigerator for the icing to firm up, about 30 minutes. Repeat the process with the small cake layers, working on a baking paper-lined plate.

For the final layer of icing, using about half of the pink buttercream, dollop random patches over the sides and top of the large cake. Fill in the gaps with a generous amount of the plain buttercream and starting with the top, spread the top and side of the cake with the icing. You should have patches of pink here and there. Do not overwork the icing or it will all blend together. Repeat with the smaller cake and then place it off-centre, on top
of the large cake. 

Put any remaining pink buttercream and plain buttercream in a piping bag with a 1.5 cm (½ in) plain nozzle. Pipe little dollops of buttercream on the cake. Decorate with the edible flowers and leaves. 

The cake can be stored in the refrigerator for several hours, but it is best served at room temperature; otherwise the buttercream icing will be very firm.


This recipe is from Incredible Bakes (Smith Street Books). Photography by Chris Middleton.