Blood Orange Citrus Semolina Cake with Lemon Sorbet

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Blood Orange Harrisa Cake and Lemon Sorbet
Sweets and cakes with tea and coffee is a must.  My father was not a baker, so it wasn’t until I moved to Israel that I experienced true Tunisian / Middle Eastern sweets/cakes. Harrisa cake is a very basic cake made of semolina flour, almonds and citrus and one of the few Tunisian desserts I have semi mastered.  It’s moist and crumbles into small delicious pieces when you pick it up.

I am always trying to take classic Tunisan recipes and make them my own, a traditional Harissa Cake is heavy on the almond flavor where as mine is more citrus. Dessert not being my métier, I reached out to my friend Deborah Gorman.  Deborah is one of the “Sorbabe” creators of Gourmet Sorbet and also a Sephardic Jew.  She suggested we pair the Blood Orange Harrisa cake I was planning to make, with a tangy Lemon Sorbet and top it with crumbled pistachios.

On a super-hot LA morning we made the sorbet, while her husband Andrei cooked up brunch.  A lovely Sweet Potato, Leek and Sausage Frittata, served with roasted Sweet Potatoes seasoned with Rosemary. It was delicious!  Making sorbet or ice cream is a bit of a process, and there is a lot of hurry up and wait, but it is well worth it.  Deborah’s sorbet turned out beautifully.  It’s the perfect combination of sweet and sour, and the flavors go perfectly with the cake. Success!!

Andrei's delicious fritatta

Andrei’s delicious fritatta

We might have also had a little mezcal cocktail with lemon sorbet and a little blood orange juice

We might have also had a little mezcal cocktail with lemon sorbet and a little blood orange juice

Sorbabes Gourmet Sorbet, Deborah’s line of sorbets, are in stores all over New York and can now be found here in California!  They come in an array of outrageously delicious fresh flavors like Organic Pistachio with Sea Salt Carmel, Coconut Chai with Macaroons, and Organic Peanut with Banana and Dark Chocolate.  All are made without dairy.

 Check out her website, follow them on facebook, twitter, instagram

Harrisa Cake with Gourmet Sorbet Lemon Sorbet

Harrisa Cake with Gourmet Sorbet Lemon Sorbet

Lemon Sorbet
2 cups lemon juice – about 8 lemons
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 cups simple syrup – 3 cups sugar 3 cups water
tiny pinch of salt
1 tsp vodka
1 gram of xanthan gum – you can find it at most health food stores

Simple Syrup
zest 2 lemons before juicing
add lemon zest to 3 cups of sugar and mix with confectioners’ sugar
heat water to a simmer
pour hot water over sugar, mix well, chill in refrigerator

Combine simple syrup and 1.5 cups of lemon juice in the ice cream maker; add remaining juice to taste, chill.  If you have an ice cream maker follow directions for your ice cream maker. If not, place mixture in a pre-frozen pan (large and shallow) freeze, take out every hour and scrape with a fork to make granita.

Blood Orange Harrisa Cake
Double the cake recipe to make a full sheet.
6 eggs separated
1/2 cup of caster sugar or granulated
1 cup of sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup of all-purpose flour, sifted
2.5 cups of semolina flour
2 tbs ground, unsalted almonds
4 tsp baking powder
1 cup vegetable oil
1.5 cups Blood Orange juice (zest oranges first)
2 tsp Blood Orange zest
1 cup Lemon Marmalade
1 tsp Orange Blossom water
1 cup chopped unsalted pistachios

Syrup
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar or honey
1 tbs Orange Blossom water

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees

In a standing mixer, beat the egg whites and the sugar until they hold stiff peaks – about 8-10 minutes.  Meanwhile combine all the dry ingredients into a bowl.  In a separate large bowl beat the egg yolk, gradually pouring in the oil, juice, orange zest, marmalade and Orange Blossom water. Once fully combined, add the dry ingredients in stages, then carefully fold in the egg whites.  Pour the mixture into a greased 13″ x 9″ baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until the cake is golden.  Once fully cooked, take out of the oven and pour the syrup mixture evenly over the top of the cake.

Cake Assembly
You must make 2 sheets of cake.  You can either split the batter into two smaller cake pans or make double the recipe.  Let the cakes cool.  When fully cool remove from the cake pans, shave off the top layer and cut the sides so you have perfect layers for the cake.  Put one slice back in a clean baking dish and coat it with a layer about 1 thick of sorbet, then place the top layer on the sorbet and freeze.  Serve with the pistachios on top.