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semolina saffron cake recipe syrup almonds jewish dessert
Photo credit Gabriela Herman


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This vibrant, zesty cake soaked in syrup is believed to have been King Solomon’s favorite.

  • Total Time: 7 hours
  • Yield: Serves 8-10


For the date filling:

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves

For the cake:

  • 2 cups (440 g) cream of wheat
  • 1 cup (225 g) coarse semolina
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup (235 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (235 ml) orange juice
  • grated zest from 1 orange
  • ½ cup blanched whole almonds, for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, for garnish

For the syrup:

  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) sugar, or ¾ cup (150 g) sugar + ¾ cup (175 ml) honey
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ tsp saffron threads


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.
  2. To make the filling: Pulse the oil, dates, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves in a food processor with a steel blade until a thick paste has formed.
  3. To make the cake: In a medium bowl, mix together the cream of wheat, semolina, sugar, baking powder, vegetable oil, orange juice and orange zest to create a thick batter.
  4. Spread half the batter into the prepared pan, then top with the date filling, spreading the mixture with a spatula to the edges of the pan. Pour the remaining batter over the top, smooth the surface and score the top of the cake into 2-inch diamond shapes.
  5. Gently push one whole almond vertically into the center of each diamond, then scatter the sesame seeds over all. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until golden on the top.
  6. Fifteen minutes before the cake is done, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, honey (if using), ½ cup (120 ml) of water, and lemon juice to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat, add the saffron and let steep for 5 minutes.
  7. Pour the warm syrup over the cake when it is done. Let stand for at least 6 hours or more, so the cake completely absorbs the syrup.
  • Author: Joan Nathan
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes + 6 hours soak time
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Sephardi