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Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake

This Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Helen Goh‘s “Sweet” Cookbook. It is such a beautiful union of cardamom, rosewater, almond and pistachio. Serve up this exquisite cake at your next get-together as a wonderful finale to a meal.

Overhead photo of Ottolenghi's Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake cut into slices

*This is an updated version of a post that was first published on May 7th, 2018.

Last year my daughter and I headed across the pond to London.

While we were there, we got to visit family, awe at some of London’s sights and sounds and check out the local food scene ~ which included a stop at one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurants.

I am a huge fan of Ottolenghi’s style of cooking and managed to taste just about every one of the savory dishes he had on his menu that day. 

By the way, if you focus on the 6 larger images in the collage below, you will see that all the savory and sweet dishes of the day are displayed openly so it’s easy to pick and choose how much or how little one would like.

Collage of sights in London

My daughter and I were so stuffed after our lunch. But, neither of us wanted to leave without trying any of the sweets so we filled up a togo box with a variety of Ottolenghi’s cakes, cookies and meringues.

We headed to Hyde park with our loot and managed to find a secluded spot overlooking the lake (4th row, left most picture in the collage above) and dug into our loot.

Overhead photo of Ottolenghi's Pistachio Rose Cake

Y’all, when I got to the slice of pistachio rosewater semolina cake, my tastebuds were swooning!

This was one heck of a tasty cake! And, it had NO frosting!

Frosting is usually my jam – but this didn’t need any. None.

Each forkful was so luxurious, so flavor packed with hints of rosewater, pistachio, almond and lemon!

We regretted getting only one slice and having to share it! We went back to that Ottolenghi restaurant before we left London, but, they had sold out of their pistachio rosewater cake.

When my daughter and I got back home to Georgia, we found a recipe for that Pistachio Rosewater Semolina Cake and vowed to give it a try as soon as she had college sorted out and I had sold the house and moved to a condo (which feels like it was eons ago).

Picking Up A Slice of Ottolenghi's Pistachio Rose Cake

Well, come New Years Eve night, we were hovering over that recipe in our new kitchen. That first time we tried this recipe out, (by the way, this recipe can be found in Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Helen Goh’s new cookbook: “Sweet”) I subbed in oat flour for semolina. I am thinking that that substitution lead to a cake that was just too sweet for me.

But, the second time I tried my hand at replicating Ottolenghi’s Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake, I followed the directions and ingredients almost exactly.

This time, I reduced the amount of sugar and also used cardamom powder instead of cardamom pods as the powder can be easily found among the spices at just about every local grocery store.

And, the resulting cake had our tastebuds swooning!

Steps To Making Ottolenghi’s Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake:

Steps To Making Pistachio Rose Cake

1. Gather all your ingredients together.
The first time I made this, I found the directions and ingredient list a bit intimidating – but, having all the ingredients prepped, measured and ready to go, helped save time and my sanity.

2. Grind up the pistachios (along with the cardamom powder) to a flour like consistency.

3. Mix the Dry ingredients together.
Spoon the pistachio/cardamom powder into a bowl with the almond meals, semolina flour, baking powder, salt.

4. Cream the butter and sugar together until the electric beater leaves a “trail” through it. Then, add in the eggs one at a time, mixing between each egg. Make sure not not overbeat though.

5. FOLD in the mixed dry ingredients into the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
Use a spatula and gently fold in the dry ingredients.

6. Add in lemon zest, rose water and vanilla extract.

7. Scrape the mixture (it won’t be too runny) into a greased and lined baking tray and bake.
In the last 10 minutes of the cake baking, make the rose water syrup.

8. When cake is taken out of the oven and is still warm, spoon the warm rosewater syrup over it.

9. Let Cool, glaze, and enjoy!

Overhead photo of Ottolenghi's Pistachio Rose Cake with two slices on dessert plates with forks

So, of course, I decided to share this very slightly adapted version of Ottolenghi’s Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake (which has become one of my all time favorite cakes), here.

I cut down on the time required to make this by using store bought dried rose petals instead of making candy rose petals as suggested in the original recipe.

I also did not make the rose cream to go with this and added a very simple lemon rose cardamom glaze instead.

This is a spectacular cake to bake up and enjoy around the holidays, for New Years (like my daughter and I do) or even for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

A Slice of Ottolenghi's Pistachio Rose Cake on a plate with a fork

I would love to know if you’ve make this recipe or any other recipe from this blog so please do rate the recipe and let me know your thoughts on it in the comments below.
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Overhead photo of Ottolenghi's Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake cut into slices

Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

This Pistachio Rose Semolina Cake is such a beautiful union of cardamom, rosewater, almond and pistachio. Exquisite with a rose syrup drenching, this cake is meant to be lingered over and leisurely savored with a cup of tea or coffee for Mother's Day or any of your get togethers with family and friends.


For the cake

  • 1 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp, 325 mL unsalted room temperature butter, cubed, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • 1 cup 250 mL almond meal
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tbsp, 225 mL fine semolina flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp 6 mL baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp 1 mL himalayan salt
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp rosewater, not rose syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the rose syrup

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup rosewater
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • pinch of cardamom


For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan/or round cake pan with butter. Line bottom and sides with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Place 1 cup pistachios and cardamom powder in a high speed blender/food processor and blitz until finely ground. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add ground almonds, semolina, baking powder and salt. Mix together and set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, in another bowl. Slowly add eggs 1 at a time and continue to mix until smooth and fully incorporated.
  5. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, being careful not to over mix. Fold in lemon zest, lemon juice, rosewater and vanilla extract. Scrape batter into greased pan and level with spatula.
  6. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean but oily. Let rest for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
  7. To serve, drizzle warm rose syrup all over cake. Drizzle cake with glaze. Chop remaining pistachios and sprinkle all over cake along with dried rose petals.
  8. Cake can be refrigerated for upto a week. Before serving, simply warm up cake, or let stand at room temperature for a bit.

For the rose syrup:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Syrup should be slightly thinner than maple syrup and drizzled over cake when still warm.

For the glaze:

  1. Add the lemon juice and rose water and cardamom to the powdered sugar and mix well.
  2. Drizzle on cake when cooled.
Nutrition Information
Yield 12 Serving Size slice
Amount Per Serving Calories 375Saturated Fat 12.4gCholesterol 51mgSodium 55mgCarbohydrates 38.4gFiber 0.7gSugar 36gProtein 2.7g

Did you make this recipe?

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Tuesday 18th of August 2020

Hi Shashi, Love your step by step instructions. I have made this cake in the past (using a similar recipe but from a different page) and it's so sad that it didnt turn out. I'm keen to attempt it again as I just love the flavours. I have 3 questions. 1. Do I have to pour the syrup after its baked? 2. Since I'm using semolina- dont I have to soak the semolina in some butter for at least an hour to soften it? ( I've had a grainy texture when I did not) 3. My cake sank both times in the past and I've tried making it in different ways but it seemed to be a very temperamental batter.. how do I fix that?

Really looking forward to your reply. Lisha

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Wednesday 27th of November 2019

I made this cake. Although the flavor combination is lovely, the cake’s consistency was mushy. This was definitely not due to undercooking. It seems like their are not enough dry ingredients. Is the cake really just nuts and semolina? Are you sure there’s not supposed to be some flour? I measured the ingredients precisely but it did not come out as expected. Also the amount of sugar in the Glaze is very excessive and can ruin the cake if you don’t cut back. I would also recommend using less lemon as the amounts given are too overpowering. All in all, this recipe needs A LOT of adjustments. I would appreciate feedback from the author.

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