Semolina Coconut & Lemon Syrup Cake

Semolina Coconut & Lemon Syrup Cake

I’ve always loved the idea of combining sweets with syrup. This is why I love Middle-Eastern desserts so much. Yes, they are sweet, but you only need a little slice to satisfy. Most of them are made with nuts with a base ingredient of pastry, semolina or polenta. They are denser but have a lightness about them with the addition of flavours like rose or orange. I speak from my own experience, not about the cuisine in general. One of my all time favourite desserts is baklava, a dessert I’ve been eating since I was little. 

I have been experimenting with my version of a cake that is light but also incorporates a syrup. I wanted to create something that wasn’t as heavy or sweet. I haven’t worked with semolina too much before, so I wanted to challenge myself, and I found that it works well in cakes and slices. I think I might explore this ingredient further in future recipes.

Semolina Coconut & Lemon Syrup Cake

The trick is to use the fine semolina that acts as a flour base. It’s denser than flour but gives it a beautiful texture. Combining that with the desiccated coconut and the light lemon sugar syrup, brings everything together really nicely. 

It’s light, yet dense, making it pretty irresistible. I can eat many pieces in one sitting without batting an eyelid! Bad, I know. The syrup soaks up well and contains itself within the cake, so you shouldn’t experience any dripping – if left to cool. 

I think that it tastes even better the next day after being left in the fridge overnight. It has a slight custard cake-like consistency and texture. If you don’t generally like citrus-based desserts don’t worry, the lemon compliments it. There is no overpowering flavour, so you can still enjoy it. The walnut adds that little extra crunch on top to break the softness of the rest of the cake. I hope you enjoy this simple recipe. I enjoyed creating it!

Semolina Coconut & Lemon Syrup Cake

Semolina Coconut & Lemon Syrup Cake
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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 hour

Serving Size: 20

Semolina Coconut & Lemon Syrup Cake


    Lemon sugar syrup:
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1.5 cups water
    Semolina cake:
  • 2 cups fine semolina
  • ½ cup vegan butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup plant-based milk (I used organic soy milk)
  • 1 cup plain coconut yoghurt
  • 20 half walnut piece


    To make the syrup:
  1. Add the sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice and water to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat, giving the pan an occasional stir and making sure that the sugar completely dissolves.
  2. Turn heat down and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Take off heat and set aside to cool.
    To make the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Line a 24x24cm (9.45x9.45in) baking pan with parchment paper. Or a dish that is similar in size. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add in the semolina and butter. Using your fingers, rub in the butter until you get a crumb-like consistency.
  3. Add in the baking powder, bicarb soda, sugar, coconut and lemon zest mixing well until combined.
  4. Now stir in the lemon juice, milk and coconut yoghurt. It will make a nice a light consistency.
  5. Transfer the batter to baking pan and spread it out evenly. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  6. Score the batter into 1-inch (2.5 cm) squares with a sharp knife. Every few cuts, dip the knife in hot water and dry it off before continuing to score the batter. It should make around 20 squares if you’re using the same size dish as me.
  7. Place 1 walnut in the centre of each square and press down slightly.
  8. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30-40 minutes. Check by sticking a skewer or knife in the centre. It should come out clean. If it’s still wet, bake a little longer.
  9. Once it’s out of the oven, cut the cake along the lines you scored. Slowly pour the cooled syrup onto the hot cake.
  10. Let the cake sit at room temperature for 2 hours to cool and absorb the syrup before serving.

Semolina Coconut & Lemon Syrup Cake

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