This little cake reminds me of childhood and weekends spent with my grandparents, when my grandma would serve a similar cake after the Sunday lunch. I wasn’t interested that much in coffee cakes back then, especially since there was always something with whipped cream on top, too, and I was far too young to have coffee; but I remember the distinct smell of cinnamon and coffee, and dragging the tines of the tiniest dessert fork across a crunchy granulated sugar topping one of these cakes would have.
Today, I love the concept of coffee cakes. Simple, flavourful, often unadorned, but perfect after a hearty meal, or with a cup of tea for brunch. And if you are anything like me, you like your cakes minimalistic, with a tender crumb, and this lovely little cake is just that.
This is a very straightforward recipe for a very forgiving homemade classic. An indulgent, tender cake, which will keep for days at room temperature, especially due to the delicious lemon syrup keeping it moist and soft. Serve it with a freshly brewed, hot cup of coffee or a mug of tea, and enjoy the fantastic mingle of cinnamon and lemon in this adorable little vegan cake.
For the cake
150 grams semolina
150 grams plain flour
150 grams raw cane sugar
100 grams toasted walnuts, ground
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
300 ml cold water
For the lemon-vanilla syrup
100 grams raw cane sugar
150 ml cold water
1 medium organic lemons
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until they become fragrant, about 5-6 minutes, then let them cool down completely, and grind them finely. Place the semolina into a large bowl, and sift in the plain flour, ground cinnamon, and baking powder. Using a wire whisk, blend all of the ingredients together, tip in the ground walnuts, and whisk again. Set the bowl aside for the time being.
Pour the water into a large bowl, add in the sugar and vanilla, and mix very well so the sugar starts melting slightly. Tip everything into the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Let the batter sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, then pour it into a small rectangle pan (18×18 cm). Bake in a preheated oven, at 180°C (350°F), for 25-30 minutes.
While the cake is baking, make the vanilla-lemon syrup, because you need hot syrup to be poured over hot, just baked cake. Pour the sugar into a medium saucepan, add the water, and place it over medium heat. Slice the lemon in half, squeeze one half into the sugar, and slice the other into thin slices and reserve them.
Once the syrup comes to a boil, add in the lemon slices, and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the sugar fully melts. Remove from heat, and whisk in the vanilla. Once the cake is baked and still hot from the oven, and the syrup is hot, slowly pour it all over the cake, one spoonful at a time, until all of it is used. Let the cake sit at room temperature for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, and serve. Yields 8 servings.
By Tina Vesić