About a month ago, I took a fabulous Lebanese bread-making class with Reem at the Arab Cultural Center in San Francisco. After class, we somehow starting talking about the wonders of turmeric and she mentioned Sfoof, an eggless, semolina-based tea cake with turmeric. My ears perked up immediately with intrigue. Turmeric in my dessert?! Hmmm, this sounds interesting—a cake with bitter and sweet tastes along with floral aromatics?! This sounded right up my alley. I mean, why does turmeric just have to be in savory dishes or taken medicinally? Why not add it to a cake? We have golden milk, golden honey, golden mud, and why not golden cake… As far as I am concerned, let’s live life as golden as we can!
This past Sunday, Reem came over to share her recipe for this delicious, slightly dense, and aromatic tea cake she enjoyed at her grandmother’s home. We had some chai and baked while connecting over our love of food and future plans. I think for our next date, we are going to make a Palestinian turmeric, chicken, and garbanzo bean stew—stay tuned! However, I’d better get on her roster soon, because Reem is one busy lady. Next month, she starts popping up in the Mission District in San Francisco at 18 Reasons on the last Saturday of every month. She is going to serve up Arab street food made with California love. She’s also part of the incubator program at La Cocina, as a budding entrepreneur with plans to open her own Levantine eatery! I’m looking forward to that day, but in the meantime, I’ll be popping up at her pop-up.
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Reem’s Lebanese Tea Cake (Sfoof) aka Golden Cake
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes (depending on your oven)
Equipment needed: a hand mixer or handpower and a whisk. A 9-by-13 inch cake pan
Tastes: Bitter, pungent, sweet
Doshas: VPK (Kapha in moderation)
- 1 3/4 cup Fine Semolina
- 1 1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 6 oz of Solid Ghee, Butter (softened), or Olive Oil
- 1 T Ground Turmeric
- 1 T Ground Anise Seed
- 1/4 tsp Sea Salt (fine)
- 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 1/2 cup Whole Milk
- 1 1/2 cup Sugar (can also be reduced to 1 1/4)
- 2 T Orange Blossom Water
- a handful of Pine Nuts or Slivered and Blanched Almonds
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan on medium-low heat, warm the milk. While the milk is warming up, in a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry mixture ingredients. With a spatula or your hands, mix well: You want to cut your ghee into the flour evenly. Set aside.
Remove the milk from heat, add the sugar, and whisk together to mix well until the sugar begins to melt (it doesn’t have to completely dissolve). Then, add the orange blossom water, mix, and pour into a mixing bowl with the dry ingredients. Take a deep breath and smell the amazing aromas.
Mix well or whisk so all the lumps are removed and you have worked a little air into the mixture. If you are using a hand mixer, blend on low speed for a minute. Do not over mix. About 1 minute.
Pour the mixture into a well-greased cake pan. Then place it in the freezer for about 5 minutes, remove, and lightly score with a skewer or chopstick into 12 pieces. Place your almond or pine nut in the middle of each square. You are now ready to bake! Bake it for about 25-30 minutes.
Remove it from oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes, cut into 12 pieces, and serve warm with some chai, of course. Happy eating!
Store: in an airtight container for upto 1 week. This is a cake that runs on the drier side, so proper storage is key.