I asked Grainne Mullins to participate in my Cooking During Covid series and to write up a recipe using some of her favourite Irish ingredients. I should have guessed that she would make us a cake with some of the finest semolina and gorgeous local honey. Flour is a very valuable commodity at this time of quarantine. Everyone and their mammy wants to be baking (myself included). Semolina cakes are a good option as semolina is less likely to be sold out everywhere. If you can, though, I encourage you to go look specifically for Ballymore Organics semolina as this is the produce Grainne wishes to champion through this recipe. I looked at their website and there is semolina left. Woop! 

They deliver straight to your door and their flour is most excellent too when they have it. 

Grainne doesn’t shy away from the Irish ingredients for this recipe and her icing is made using beautiful, Velvet Cloud, a sheep’s milk yoghurt made in Co. Mayo. I interviewed Aisling Flanagan for my series on the women of the Irish food industry and I remember her telling me so proudly how, when they make the yoghurt, nothing is added and nothing is taken away. Much like the semolina chosen for this recipe, Velvet Cloud is one of the purest food products in Ireland and is beloved by pastry chefs up and down the country. 

I’m happy to report that Velvet Cloud is available in all good food shops or to order online directly from their website


Semolina Cake


Ingredients for the cake 

  • 1 unwaxed orange
  • 200g Ballymore Organics Semolina
  • 50g stale breadcrumbs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 75g Sliabh Aughty Honey
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 175g rapeseed oil / sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs


Ingredients for Syrup:

  • 200ml Sliabh Aughty Honey
  • Juice of 1 Orange
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 allspice
  • 2 cloves


Ingredients for the yoghurt topping

  • 300ml Velvet Cloud Sheep’s milk yoghurt
  • 75g icing sugar


Method for the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the bottom of a 20 cm loose base tin with greaseproof paper.
  • Bring a pot of water to the boil and place in the whole orange. Boil for approx. 20 minutes or until the orange has softened.
  • Allow the orange to cool. Then blend to a pulp.
  • In another bowl mix together the semolina, breadcrumbs, baking powder and sugar.
  • Whisk the oil with the eggs in another bowl. Then pour into the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Fold in the orange pulp and mix well. Place into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes. Check by inserting a skewer into the middle. If it comes out clean, it’s done.
  • Leave to cool for 15 minutes before turning it out onto a plate.


Method to make the syrup:

  • Whilst the cake is baking, mix all ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer.
  • Leave to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for a further 30minutes.
  • While the cake is still warm pour over the syrup and allow it to absorb.


To finish:

  • Lightly whip the yogurt with the icing sugar and place over the cake.
  • Decorate with primroses.


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