Syrupy Lemon, Olive Oil & Semolina Cakes

Mini syrup drenched lemon, olive oil and semolina cakes

I made these little lemon, olive oil & semolina cakes for a picnic last week; they are great for picnics as they are very quick to whip up, and because they aren’t iced they can be transported in their tins or a tub easily if need be. The combination of lemon zest and semolina flour give the cakes a lovely sunny yellow colour, and the drenching of syrup provides a strong kick of lemon flavour and keeps them deliciously moist and soft.

Little syrup drenched lemon, olive oil and semolina cakes

It may look like a very large amount of syrup to use, but semolina absorbs a lot of liquid so the cakes can take quite a lot; don’t be reserved with the soaking, it adds so much flavour and the texture of the soaked cakes is lovely; I think that without the syrup they would probably be a little dry. The olive oil isn’t a strong flavour, it just adds a hint of peppery-ness (and totally makes me feel like the cakes are a little bit healthier), you can replace it with sunflower oil if you prefer, the cakes wont suffer for the swap. The candied lemon slices are also optional, but I like them – as the cakes are otherwise un-decorated they make them a bit prettier and more interesting. They also aren’t really any extra work to make as they are simply cooked in the syrup that you are making anyway.

Syrupy lemon, olive oil and semolina cakesMini syrupy lemon, olive oil and semolina cakes with candied lemon slices

I baked my cakes in a selection of mini brioche moulds and pudding tins and got ten decently sized cakes  – bigger than a cupcake but still individually portioned. You can also bake the cake as one large one in a 20cm square tin; or in a muffin tray in which case I think the recipe will make about 15 cakes – fill them 2/3rds full and reduce the cooking time a little.

Little syrupy lemon, olive oil and semolina cakes


Syrupy Lemon, Olive Oil & Semolina Cakes
  • finely grated zest of 3 large lemons
  • 150ml (scant ⅔ cup) extra virgin olive oil (or sunflower oil)
  • 175g (3/4 cup + 2tbsp) caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 175ml (2/3 cup + 1tbsp) milk
  • 200g (1 + ¼ cups) fine semolina
  • 75g (1/2 cup + 2tbsp) plain flour
  • 3 level tsp baking powder
  • juice of 3 large lemons
  • 200g (1 cup) sugar
  • 2tbsp honey
  • 1 whole lemon, very thinly sliced (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease about 10 mini brioche moulds or mini loaf tins and dust with flour. Or grease a 20cm square cake tin and line with baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, olive oil, caster sugar and eggs until smooth. Mix in the milk and semolina then sift together the flour and baking powder and whisk in until smooth. Divide the mixture between the tins, filling them two-thirds full.
  3. Bake for about 25 minutes for small cakes, or 50 minutes for one large one, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  4. While the cakes are baking make the syrup. Put the lemon juice in a measuring jug and add enough water to make it up to 300ml (1 + ¼ cups). Pour the liquid into a saucepan and add the sugar and honey, heat gently until the sugar has dissolved then add the lemon slices if using and bring up to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the lemon has softened. If you aren't using the lemon then just simmer the liquid for 5 minutes then remove from the heat.
  5. When the cakes are baked, place them in their tins on a wire rack; pour a generous amount of the syrup over each cake - I used about 3tbsp per cake; they can take quite a lot. Leave in their tins until they have absorbed the syrup then carefully turn out and place on the wire rack to cool. The small cakes have a tendency to 'dome' quite a lot, so if you want then to sit flat you can trim off the dome. Decorate with the lemon slices before serving.
Recipe adapted from:


Little syrup coated lemon, olive oil and semolina cakes with candied lemon slicesSyrupy lemon, olive oil and semolina cakes with candied lemon slices

I am sharing these with Saucy Saturdays hosted by The Flavour Bender, Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef and Mid-Life Croissant, Fiesta Friday, Foodie FriDIY, Foodie Friends Friday and Friday Features

16 Comments on Syrupy Lemon, Olive Oil & Semolina Cakes

  1. Karren Haller
    July 15, 2016 at 12:46 pm (3 months ago)

    These look amazing, they made my mouth water!
    Pinned, shared on FB

    Thank you for sharing on the #OMHGFF this week! Look for cakes to be featured next week!
    Have a great weekend, be safe!

  2. Jess@CookingisMySport
    July 15, 2016 at 1:04 pm (3 months ago)

    Oh my, these cakes are so beautiful with the vibrant color and citrus sliced on top. The texture really looks moist as well. Nice job!

  3. michelle@oblogoff
    July 15, 2016 at 2:33 pm (3 months ago)

    I can taste them through your photography! Love it! Yum!

  4. Sally hossack
    July 16, 2016 at 9:28 am (3 months ago)

    Mouth watering

  5. Julianna
    July 16, 2016 at 3:41 pm (3 months ago)

    Wow, your cakes are just lovely! 😀

  6. Jenny
    July 17, 2016 at 12:48 am (3 months ago)

    These cakes are beautiful! I love the looks of the candied lemon slices, and the lemon syrup sounds delicious! I would love to try to make these!

  7. Tammy Ellington
    July 17, 2016 at 1:40 pm (3 months ago)

    Beautiful cakes and beautiful presentation! I love old silver. It lends such an elegant touch to displays. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Miranda
    July 17, 2016 at 8:13 pm (3 months ago)

    These cakes are gorgeous! I love the candied lemon!

  9. Hilda
    July 21, 2016 at 2:01 am (3 months ago)

    These look fabulous. Semolina cakes and syrup go so well together, and the candied lemon really ‘takes the cake’!

  10. Suchitra
    July 21, 2016 at 7:15 pm (3 months ago)

    These are such cute little cakes! The candied oranges make them look adorable!

    • hannahhossack
      September 2, 2016 at 10:15 am (2 months ago)

      Hi Johanne, so sorry for the slow reply, your comment somehow got lost in my spam folder. The citrus slices are a little firm, but not too difficult; the trick is slicing them as thinly as possible and then cooking them until the peel goes almost translucent.

  11. YumGoggle
    July 25, 2016 at 12:20 am (3 months ago)

    These look so beautiful and fresh! Love citrus! Great pics.

  12. Annie Allen
    July 26, 2016 at 1:42 pm (3 months ago)

    My mum used this recipe (tripled) to make a three-tier birthday cake for my aunt. She added a mascarpone icing. The cake was so delicious. Very very lemony (excellent) and moist, with a texture quite different to a normal cake because of the semolina. It was amazing! And my mum said the recipe was very easy to follow. Annie. xxx


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