If caramel were an ocean, I’d dip my fingers and toes in it, heck I might even consider taking a swim. Caramel is enticing, the taste, the aroma, the color even the way you can prepare it, it’s all pretty amazing. When KitchenAid asked me to try out their cute, new, little powerhouse of a stand mixer, the KitchenAid® Artisan® Mini Mixer, I knew I’d make a dessert with caramel. If you think about it, there are lots of similarities between the two, they’re both pretty exciting but they’re both pretty useful and you can do so much with both.
I’m always short on counter space and the new KitchenAid® Artisan® Mini Mixer solves the problem with it’s need for a smaller real estate in the kitchen. It comes with all the necessary blades and I gave it a few tries, I made sourdough bread, pound cakes, a pavlova and this semolina based kefir cake.
My flavors for this cake are rather simple but they’re delicious. There’s kefir yogurt to balance the sweet and bitter notes of caramel and nuts. It’s the perfect fall cake inspired by Middle Eastern and Indian ingredients one that can also be made and eaten year round.
Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this cake;
Use whatever kind of nuts/seeds you like, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, macadamia, hazelnut, pine nuts, etc. I’m not too fond of adding peanuts to this cake because it can take over the flavor of the cake and the rest of the flavors will be less prominent.
Make sure your orange blossom water is still potent, it loses flavor after a few months.
I’ve used semolina flour from Bob’s Red Mill (just in case you need a reference for how fine the grade of semolina flour I used).
I use butter and water to prepare the caramel sauce versus a dry caramel sauce because the butter helps to make a smoother tasting caramel and it also helps to release the cake from the parchment paper after baking.
One trick to release the cake from the parchment paper (if the caramel nut layer sticks): Cool the cake in the refrigerator or take an ice pack and place it on top of the parchment paper to harden the caramel. The paper will now peel of easily without breaking the nut layer.
yields: one 9 inch cake
For the caramel nut layer
2 tablespoons unsalted butter + a little extra to grease the cake pan
1 cup (160gm) mixed nuts (such as pine nuts cashews, macadamia, walnuts, pistachios etc)
½ cup (99g) superfine sugar
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
for the cake batter
1 ½ cups (274g) semolina flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
½ stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup (198g) superfine sugar
3 large eggs
¼ cup (59.14mL) orange blossom water
1 cup (237mL) full fat kefir
Grease and line a 9 inch circular cake pan with parchment paper. Grease the surface of the parchment paper with a little more butter. Spread the nuts out on the surface of the prepared baking pan.
Place the 2 tablespoons of butter, sugar, water and salt in a medium-sized, thick-bottomed saucepan and heat on medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar mixture starts to turn boil within 8 to 10 minutes. Watch it carefully as the sugar starts to turn brown, once it reaches a deep amber color, remove the saucepan from the stove and pour the hot caramel over the nuts in the prepared baking pan. You don’t need to coat all the nuts but try to spread the mixture out evenly without disturbing the nuts. Place the baking pan in the freezer.
Dry whisk the semolina flour, baking powder and salt in medium-sized mixing bowl. Keep aside.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and using the paddle attachment cream the mixture for about 2 to 3 minutes on medium-low speed, then switch to medium-high and continue to beat until the mixture is creamy pale yellow for an additional 3 minutes. Beat in one egg at a time on medium-high speed. Reduce the speed to medium-low and in a steady stream pour half of the whisked semolina mixture into the creamed batter and continue to beat until combined. Pour in the orange blossom water and kefir and whisk on medium-low speed until combined followed by the remaining whisked semolina mixture. Remove the cake pan from the freezer and pour the cake batter over the caramel nut layer. Wrap the pan with cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Just before baking, place a wire rack at midlevel and preheat the oven to 350F. Unwrap the cake pan and bake for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking process. The cake is done when the center is firm to touch and skewer when inserted comes out clean from the center of the cake and the edges are golden brown. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the cake pan for about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it, then place a flat serving plate on top of the pan and flip the cake pan. Tap the pan to loosen the cake and release the cake pan. Allow the cake to cool completely before peeling the parchment paper from the surface of the caramelized nut layer. Serve the cake at room temperature.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by KitchenAid, however all opinions expressed are solely my own.