Lemon and Rose Syrup Mini Cakes
Updated: Feb 23
Back with another recipe for you guys! These mini cakes are so delicious. They resemble a traditional lemon polenta cake: they consist mainly of ground almonds, but rather than polenta, this recipe uses fine semolina. This results in a bit less grittiness in the cake, as polenta tends to be coarser. If you prefer to make this recipe gluten free, I believe it should be fine swapping the semolina for polenta though.
Just like many lemon polenta cake recipes, these mini cakes are infused with syrup after baking. As soon as they come out of the oven, drench the top in hot syrup and let the cakes soak it up. This results in a deliciously moist yet crumbly interior. For these cakes, I use a sugar syrup made with rose water and lemon juice. The rose water adds a bit of indulgence and fragrance. You either love it or you hate it! If you do not like rose in baking, you can easily just use more lemon juice and enjoy these cakes as simply lemon syrup cakes. However, I highly recommend giving the rose a try. Used in the quantity prescribed, it only delivers a faint scent, nothing overpowering, but enough to smell it.
Please note that the rose syrup that you pour on the cakes is different from the icing dripping off the sides of the cake in the pictures. This is an additional rose water icing made with powdered sugar that you can use if you would like. I like giving an extra bit of rosey punch, plus it makes the perfect vehicle to glue down some dried edible rose petals as well! It makes these cakes look super cute, and I think they would look great at a high tea for example.
The inside of these cakes has a great crumb, but when you eat it they melt in the mouth because of the succulent syrup. Cakes made with ground almonds are actually my favourite: they have something rustic about them. They are also way more filling than cakes made with refined flour and so they make for a much better snack!
Lemon and Rose Syrup Mini Cakes
This recipe makes 4 mini cakes as pictured. I used four pudding moulds (these ones to be specific: https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/gol-ui/product/baking-gadgets---utensils/sainsburys-home-non-stick-pudding-moulds-x4-131469757-p). These moulds are the size of a jumbo muffin tin. You can also use a normal muffin tin just fine, in which case you could make 6-8 mini cakes.
For the mini cakes
115 grams unsalted butter, softened
130 grams caster sugar
1 lemon: zested and juiced (the juice is for the syrup)
100 grams ground almonds
2 large eggs
65 grams fine semolina
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
For the syrup
1 tbsp rose water*
3 tbsp lemon juice
50 grams granulated sugar
For the rose icing
80 grams icing sugar
1 tbsp rose water (or 1 tbsp of lemon juice - according to preference)
Dried edible rose petals for decoration
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (conventional) or 160 degrees Celsius (fan oven).
Grease your pudding moulds with butter, then apply a light coating of flour, so the inside of the mould is covered. This will help release the mini cakes after baking.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You can use any mixer or a wooden spoon if your butter is soft enough.
Add the lemon zest.
Add 1 egg and mix to combine.
Add half of the ground almonds.
Add the second egg.
Add the rest of the ground almonds, and the semolina, baking powder, and salt.
Spoon the cake batter into the pudding moulds. Transfer to the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Whilst the cakes bake, make the syrup. Combine the rose water, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened and all the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Transfer the mini cakes to a wire rack. Immediately generously spoon over the syrup and let the cakes sit to soak it up.
Let the cakes cool down in their moulds for 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle and the syrup has been soaked up. Then, gently flip the mould. Lightly tap for the mini cakes to release, and place them upside down on the wire rack to cool completely.
Make the icing by sieving the icing sugar and mixing in the rose water or lemon juice according to preference. You can always add more icing sugar or liquid (even a drop of water is fine) to make the icing thicker or thinner. It will really depend on your icing sugar how much liquid you need.
Spoon the icing over the cakes ones they are completely cool. Decorate with rose petals.
* Rose water should only have two ingredients: water, and pure rose oil. If it has anything else in, you are likely dealing with rose essence or rose extract, which is much stronger than rose water. If that is all you can find, I suggest using only 1/3rd of the recommended amount of rose water. You can also dilute the rose essence with some extra lemon juice.
Store these mini cakes in an airtight container or tupperware for 2 - 3 days max on the counter. Of course they are best eaten fresh! I really hope you enjoy this recipe and try it yourself. As always let me know on Instagram if you try it @bakingstori :)