Halva Fourno a Greek Orange and Semolina Cake

Halvas Fourno served with Greek Yoghurt and Honey

Well, that was the most fabulous weekend ever!  Karen and I took a slow drive up to Underberg via the Rotunda in Cedara where we stopped to buy lemons for the tequila that was waiting for us upon our arrival in Underberg.  It’s our traditional welcoming libation and cannot be consumed without juicy lemon wedges.  True to form, Carol was waiting at the gate, arms frozen in a ‘vine like’ stance with three glasses of tequila dangling from her fingers.

The view from her home is intoxicating and holds one in a semi-paralysed state rendering one able to do nothing at all but plonk oneself into one of the couches in the shade on the veranda and just stare at it for the longest time.

On arrival I always go and have a chat with the animals.  I was excited to meet the new goats, each one fitted with a brass bell obtained by Carols’ husband in Kosovo on a United Nations Mission.  This was such a charming addition to the concerto that is the countryside.  The Midlands is a hundred shades of green right now, the cabbages in the veggie garden are studded with diamond droplets after the late afternoon showers and mummy chickens and ducks have a rivulet of babies chirping their way after their mums.  To say that Carol’s spot is bursting with abundance is a ridiculous understatement.

We laughed, seemingly for hours, at our tequila-fuelled reminiscence and found such events as a fly landing on the table not only completely hilarious but yet ANOTHER reason to have another round of that devil-juice, tequila!  When my nephew Marco phoned to announce his engagement to his perfect lady-love Casey, we were completely UNSTOPPABLE!

Halvas Fourno

Halvas Fourno

Here is the dessert for our Middle Eastern Feast.  This is actually a Greek recipe so I guess our magic carpet ride just went global!  The cake is drenched in orange, lemon and cinnamon syrup and when teamed up with a good dollop of Greek Yoghurt and a spoon of orange blossom honey ….. I guarantee nothing less than a toe curling moment!

The Cake

Halvas Fourno


Weigh and prepare all of your ingredients in advance.

115g unsalted butter, softened

125g (1 cup) caster sugar

125g (1 cup) semolina

110g ground roasted hazelnuts

2tsp baking powder

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2Tbs finely grated orange rind

4Tbs orange juice

Yoghurt to serve

Honey to serve – orange blossom would be great

Preheat the oven to 210d (415F)


Lightly grease a 23cm square baking tin and line the base with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until smoothe.

Cream the butter and sugar.

Stir in the semolina, ground hazelnuts and baking powder.  Fold in the eggs, zest and juice until well combined.

Beautiful strands of orange zest.

Spoon into the tin, smooth the surface and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and just set.  Leave in the tin to cool.

Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile make the Syrup

Heat the sugar and cinnamon sticks gently.

750g (3 cups) sugar

4 cinnamon sticks

1Tbs orange zest julienned

80ml (1/3 cup) lemon juice

125ml orange blossom water

Place the sugar and 830ml water in a saucepan.  Add the cinnamon sticks and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.  Increase the heat and boil rapidly without stirring for 5 minutes.  Pour into a heat proof measuring jug then return half to the saucepan. Boil for 15-20 minutes or until thickened and reduced to about 2/3 cup.  Stir in the orange rind.

I didn’t have any orange blossom water so added orange juice instead with a dash of orange essence.

Add the lemon juice and orange blossom water to the syrup in the jug.  Pour over the cake in the tin.  When absorbed turn the plate out onto a large flat plate.  Slice into 4 equal strips, and then slice each strip diagonally into 3 diamond shaped pieces.  Discard the end scraps, but keep the pieces touching together.

To make the topping

60g (½ cup) silvered almonds

70g (1/2 cup) roasted hazelnuts coarsely chopped.

Combine the almonds and hazelnuts and scatter over the cake.  Pour the thickened syrup and orange rind over the combined nuts and leave to stand for 30 minutes.  Transfer slices to plates and serve with Greek Yoghurt and a squeeze of honey.

The yoghurt sets off the sweetness of the Halvas Fourno.

Here are the links to the rest of this Middle Eastern Meal

Lentil and Bulgur Wheat Fritters with a Yoghurt and Cucumber Dipping Sauce

Lentil and Bulgur wheat fritters

Crunchy Lentil and Bulgur Wheat Fritters with a Cucumber & Garlic Yoghurt Dipping Sauce

Kibbeh Bil Sanieh, Baked Spiced Lamb

Kibbeh Bil Sanieh is Spiced Baked Lamb with Bulgur Wheat & Pine Nuts.

Weekend fun with the girls …

Congratulations on your engagement Marco & Casey xx

Making spring rolls with my nice fresh cabbage tonight!

Carol von Trapp harvesting.

Have a great week friends and as always

Buon Appetito



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