This orange cake is made with semolina, a kind of coarse flour that comes from durum wheat. It is the same thing as my childhood favorite breakfast cereal, farina. It gives this cake a slightly grainy and spongy tex- ture—the perfect vehicle for the orangey syrup. The bright flavor of this cake is especially welcome on a gloomy day, and a dollop of whipped cream makes it even better.
Serves 8 •4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan •½ cup all-purpose flour •½ cup fine semolina or farina •1 teaspoon baking powder •½ cup sugar •2 large eggs, separated •1 teaspoon vanilla extract •½ teaspoon grated orange zest •½ cup whole milk •Pinch of salt •Orange Syrup •¾ cup sugar •¾ cup orange juice •½ teaspoon grated orange zest •Fresh orange slices and mint leaves .
Place a rack in a large slow cooker. Butter a 7-x-2-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with wax paper and butter the paper. Stir together the flour, semolina, and baking powder. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the 4 tablespoons butter and the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and beat until light, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and orange zest. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk and begin- ning and ending with the flour. In a medium bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites and the salt on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the semolina mixture. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Place the pan on the rack in the slow cooker. Pour hot water around the cake pan to a depth of 1 inch. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 2½ hours, or until the cake starts to pull away from the side of the pan and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Protecting your hands with oven mitts, carefully remove the pan from the slow cooker. Place on a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake. Invert the cake onto a wire rack. Re- move the wax paper. Let the cake cool completely. Make the orange syrup: Combine the sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Stir in the orange zest. Remove from the heat and let cool. Slowly pour the orange syrup over the cake. Let stand for at least 1 hour so that the cake can absorb some of the syrup. Garnish with the or- ange slices and mint leaves. Cut into slices and serve.
The Mediterranean Slow Cooker
By Alan Richardson and Michele Scicolone