It’s funny – when I lived in France, I missed the most inane things. Amongst which were cake mixes. Now before you get on my back about “real food”, I have two caveats to offer: 1. I was very young. 2. I lived in a teeny tiny chambre de bonne (basically a glorified cupboard on the top floor of a Parisian building) for over four years with no kitchen and definitely no cupboard space to even store things like flour, let along bowls and utensils. So when I would visit my sister who was living in Oxford and later, London (amongst other more exotic locales), I would always buy a cake mix (or sometimes we would have mum send them over from Australia) and make one. Also, in France, there were odd cake mixes. Nothing like the aisles of processed boxed cake mixes you find here (or in Australia for that matter). No, exotic sounding things like “Gâteau de Semoule (de mon enfance)”… Which just happened to be this week’s French Fridays with Dorie submission (it’s on pp 438-439)
(image from the Alsa website).
Now I never had one of these mixes but I did taste, on occasion (ahem) gâteau de semoule from pâtisseries and in restaurants. It’s an odd dessert – kinda nursery comfort food (Dorie says all her French friends have childhood memories of this cake but noone knew the recipe since they had only tasted the packet version) but it can be dolled up to look quite fancy. And of course, when Dorie Greenspan makes one, it’s on the fancy side! But only in terms of presentation – it’s dead simple to make. The “semoule” is in fact, cream of wheat and can be found alongside other hot cereals like oatmeal in the cereal section of the supermarket. Dorie’s recipe calls for raisins but since t’is the season, I used dried cranberries and was so happy with the colours
It’s quite a flat cake but yours do not have to be as pancakey as mine. Let me explain.
Last weekend when I was making this, I was in the middle of a pumpkin baking frenzy (thank you Project Food Blog. I might never eat another pumpkin again. Watch out for the results of the pumkinpalooza on Sunday…) and couldn’t bear the thought of a large cake. Even a Dorie recipe. So I thought I would be clever and make two tiny ones (halving the recipe) in my mini springform pans. Which, by the way, is not the type of pan Dorie calls for.
So not only did my caramel mostly run out onto the baking tray (thank god for parchment paper) but also the cakes were quite flat. In fact one of them was so flat it died on me before it cooled down. The other? A delicious memory for me of the good old days in France. Even without a kitchen or an oven. Thanks Dorie. Sorry Neil, you didn’t get to try this one. Next time. Readers, follow the recipe. Do as I say, not as I do 😉
A few people have asked for recipes for the French Fridays with Dorie entries. The group does not publish the recipes on our blogs, rather, we would prefer it if you would purchase the book yourselves (you definitely want this book!) which you can do here on Amazon (great price right now) or here on Amazon Canada (it’s also on special!)
Yes, I am thrilled to announce I have made it to Round 8 of Project Food Blog. I am one of 24 people left from an original 600 contestants. Thank you all for reading and voting (and watching my video!) – my next post (getting creative with baked goods featuring pumpkin) will be up on Sunday.