Easy Sugee Cake

To be brutally honest, I really don’t get why we are so obsessed with sugee cake. Okay, before I continue, sugee cake is a Eurasian cake made with semolina and normal flour. It also has damn a lot of eggs. Every time I talk to people about baking, someone would inevitably go, “OOOH! DO YOU MAKE SUGEE CAKE?!?!?!”

Then, one day, I had the opportunity to find out what was so good about this sugee cake. When ordering my wedding cake, I was told that sugee was the specialty. Okay then. Let’s go with it! Did I find out how good it was? Well, I was too drunk to actually eat my cake, let alone savour how wonderful it was. I remember eating my cake but … that was it.

Anyway to cut the long story short, I finally got the chance to try sugee cake on Christmas Eve of 2015. My cousin brought a sugee cake to our family dinner and I got to see why people go ga-ga over it:

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1. It’s grainier than cakes made just from flour.  Semolina is a coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat. It’s used to make pasta, couscous … in some parts of the world, semolina is eaten as a porridge.

2. Most sugee cakes contain crushed almonds too. This gives the cake a nutty texture and flavour.

3. Although buttery and moist, the cake remains light and fluffy. The sinful part – for most sugee cakes – is the marzipan layer but if you’re making your own, you can skip this part and substitute the marzipan with a simple syrup.

There are many recipes for sugee cake out there. From the super easy to the very complicated. Some call for soaking the semolina in butter for a full day, some use more egg yolks than whites. This one here is an easy recipe to start with, and you can then progress to experimenting until you get the texture and moistness you desire. Personally, I like it because there is no wastage.

(Makes two 9-inch loaves)

250g semolina, lightly browned
250g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
227g unsalted butter (or an entire block of SCS butter)
6 eggs, separate yolks from whites
120ml milk (I used unsweetened organic almond milk)
1/4 cup crushed almonds
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

8 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp water
1 tbsp rosewater


To make the cake:
1. Preheat oven at 170C. In a saucepan, lightly brown the semolina.
2. Sift the semolina, flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale.
4. Slowly add the yolks, mix well.
5. Then add the dry mix. Alternate each scoop with a little bit of milk.
6. Fold in the crushed almonds.
7. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Then fold the whites in gently.
8. Distribute the batter between 2 loaf tins. Bake in oven for 45 minutes at 170C or toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

To make the syrup: 
1. Put everything into a saucepan, boil and dissolve the sugar.

Once cakes are done, take them out of the oven, poke holes all over, and pour the syrup over the cakes.

These cakes keep well at room temperature for about 3 days. Simply cover them with some clingfilm or keep them in an air-tight container. If refrigerating, leave in room temperature for at least 30 minutes before eating.

You can also substitute the rosewater for orange essence.

I’m not sure if I will make this to sell during Chinese New Year though … but if you are keen, drop me a note. If there is enough interest, maybe I’ll make to sell.

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