Ok, so this one may sound a little complicated, but it’s really quite simple, and probably best cake I’ve had all summer. It’s a cake that—with vibrant fresh fruit, semolina, and extra virgin olive oil—conjures images of peaceful orchards and sun-soaked rooftops. Greece? Italy? A faraway somewhere I’d like to be right now.
This is my first foray into the world of semolina olive oil cakes. And if you haven’t tried putting a high quality, fruity olive oil in your cake batter, you are seriously missing out on some serious awesomeness.
When I was in Istanbul a couple months ago, I also noticed a lot of desserts using roses. We have a bunch of dried roses in our pantry, which we’ll drop into cups of hot tea. Mixed with Earl Grey and boiled down into a sweet syrup, it’s the perfect, sticky accompaniment to this cake.
First, prep your syrup by boiling the water in a small saucepan. Add the teabags and allow to steep until you get really strong tea, 15-20 minutes. Remove the teabags and add the sugar to the saucepan.
Over medium heat, dissolve the sugar, stirring constantly. Once dissolved, add the rose buds or petals, and simmer on low heat for five minutes, until syrupy. Remove from heat and set aside to steep for another 30 minutes.
Second, make the cake. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: flour, semolina flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.
In a separate large bowl, beat together ½ cup olive oil and ¼ cup sugar (this is half of the total amount you’ll be putting in the cake) for 1 minute. Beat in the 3 egg yolks and then the flour mixture, just until combined. Then gently whisk in the yogurt, vanilla, and bourbon.
Use an electric mixture or a clean, dry whisk to beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining ¼ cup sugar until stiff peaks form.
Fold this egg white mixture into your batter just until combined.
Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Poke the cake all over with a toothpick.
Pour the syrup evenly over the cake, so it seeps into those little holes in the warm cake. (Tip, take your candied rose buds and drop them into a cup of tea. It’s awesome).
While the cake continues to cool, prepare your fruit.
Stir together the cherries and sugar over medium heat and add a little water. Simmer until the cherries are cooked and have formed a kind of sauce. Arrange the stone fruit slices on top of the cake and sprinkle with some crushed rose petals. Serve with the cherry sauce.