This weekend is Memorial Day weekend in the US.
The weather during most Memorial Day weekends in Seattle tends to be cloudy, and not quite rainy, but not quite sunny, either. Just sort of blah! Typical late spring weather. This makes it hard to know how to dress, especially if you are planning to go to any of the numerous outdoor events and festivals.
But I still like Seattle on Memorial Day weekend. It makes me start thinking more of what I want to do for summer, whether for a vacation, or just after work and weekend activities.
Today one of my friends is celebrating his 55th birthday. 55th!!
I remember taking him to a ferry boat ride on his 40th. I had planned to surprise him by hiding a kite behind my back, and whipping it out once the ferry boat undocked. You know, because I thought that flying a kite on a ferry boat on one’s birthday would be a cool thing to do for a friend. And no sooner had we started flying the kite, when the kite string snapped, sending the kite to it’s early grave, somewhere in the waters of the Puget Sound!
I can’t believe that was 15 years ago! “I can’t believe how time flies!” is an oft spoken phrase of the newly middle-aged.
So the reason why I made this recipe is to bring something to a celebratory breakfast brunch we were going to for said friend. He has very particular tastes. For one thing, he doesn’t like things that are too sweet or chocolate. He likes things with lemon.
I had to figure out something that was lemony, but not too sweet, or too decorative. And it had to not be a cupcake (my friend does not like cupcakes), but easily transportable.
So when I found this recipe, I knew that this was what I would make for my friend.
It is almost like a cupcake, but definitely more of a muffin. It has almond flour, and semolina flour, which is the kind of wheat flour with a high gluten content that is used for making pasta, usually.
Semolina flour is used in many types of Middle eastern and Mediterranean dishes and desserts. It comes in many different degrees of coarseness and fineness. I used Bob’s Red Mill Semolina, which is finer ground than other brands.
My first thought when tasting this muffin was wondering whether a soaking syrup, maybe one with honey or orange blossom would make this better. But in the end, I think it was already moist and sweet enough, and the extra soaking syrup would make it too sweet, and possibly harder to transport and eat. So I did not make any sort of syrup, although I did see other semolina cakes that had a soaking syrup. Maybe next time.
Almond Lemon Semolina Muffins (based on a recipe from Kitchenist. Makes 12 standard sized muffins, or 6 jumbo muffins)
150g (5.29 ounces) unsalted butter
150g (5.29 ounces) sugar (which ended up being about 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup. for me)
150g (5.29 ounces) (I measured it to be about 1 1/2 cups) ground almonds
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (original recipe calls for 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. almond extract)
zest and juice of 2 lemons
100g (3.53 ounces) semolina (I measured it to be about 1/2 cup + 2.5 Tablespoons)
For topping muffins
75g (2.65 ounces) icing (confectioners) sugar
2-3 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbs. flaked almonds, toasted lightly (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F and prepare 12 muffin cups with paper liners (I used a jumbo muffin tin, which makes 6, and just buttered and floured each mold very well instead of using liners. They came out without effort.)
2. Sift ground almond meal, baking powder and salt into a bowl and stir with a whisk to incorporate. Set aside. With a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and follow with the extracts, zest and juice. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add almond meal mixture to it and mix until just combined. Finally, gently fold in the semolina flour.
3. Divide the mixture between the muffin tin and bake for about an hour, until the cake tops are springy and just beginning to turn golden. Remove and let cool completely before icing. (Mine only took 45 minutes.)
4. To make the icing, whisk together the icing sugar with as much lemon juice as necessary (add drop by drop) to make a thick but spreadable icing. When cakes are completely cool, spread about 1 tsp. of icing over each one with the back of a spoon, and sprinkle with a few toasted almonds.
Anyways, thanks for stopping by, and…Enjoy!
5/25, 4:30pm UPDATE: The brunch went well. Was glad my friend R decided to be a ham and have the wait staff at the restaurant light the candle on his muffin!