I was going through the December issue of BBC Good Food India, and came across a gorgeous picture of strawberry polenta cupcakes. I liked the idea behind using polenta in cakes; it would make for an interesting texture. I love polenta but didn’t have any, and was too lazy to go out and buy some…and I figured, why not semolina or rava? Polenta was similar in texture to semolina which is similar in texture to grits. I remember my grandmom making a tea-time baked concoction with rava, coconut milk, cardamom powder and sugar.
I wanted to make a banana-walnut cake, since bananas are so easily available here. I found a recipe for eggless banana-walnut cake on Mahanandi, and added semolina into the batter. I put everything together, baked it for 35 minutes and voila! An added bonus- no whisking or beating required! All you need is a spoon to mix everything together.
I took my cake out of the oven and put it on the windowsill to cool. I felt like a 1950’s apple pie mom; my son was asleep, I was in the kitchen, I was wearing an apron (I actually was) and my cake was cooling on the window sill! Gee, I felt swell. (Take that, June Cleaver.)
BANANA WALNUT SEMOLINA CAKE (Adapted from Mahanandi)
- 1/2 cup semolina (rava)
- 1 teaspoon ghee or clarified butter
- 1 cup coconut milk or whole milk
- 1 ripe banana, peeled, seeds scraped out and mashed smoothly (no lumps!)
- 2 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup sugar*
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
*I only used 1/4 cup of sugar, but if you want your cake to be sweeter, increase that amount to 1/2 cup. I chose to use only a quarter of a cup because the banana was very ripe and almost clawingly sweet.
- In a pan, roast the rava with a teaspoon of ghee until a nice aroma envelopes your kitchen. Take off heat and soak in 1 cup of coconut milk (or regular whole milk) for 2 hours.
- Wet ingredients first, dry later. In a large mixing bowl, mix the soaked rava, mashed bananas, butter and vanilla extract until evenly combined.
- Next, add the flour, sugar, chopped walnuts and baking powder. Combine well.
- Preheat oven to 180 C.
- Spread some butter on the base and sides of a baking dish (I used a 6 inch dish.) You can use butter paper instead if you want.
- Pour the batter and spread it evenly.
- Bake at 180 C for 30-45 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the centre of the dish comes out clean.
This cake was sweet, moist, grainy and nutty all at the same time! I guess you could cut down on the butter if you wanted…since the semolina is soaked in coconut milk, the cake should remain quite moist. That’s the other thing I liked, by the way- the faint hint of coconut. Gave the cake a nice tropical feel! (Banana + coconut milk.)
I just had to have my slice with a little bit of the caramel sauce I made a few days ago. Why let it sit around?