Semolina-Olive Oil Cake with Drunken Grapes

This semolina-olive oil cake was inspired by a dessert I had at A Voce restaurant in Manhattan. Semolina flour, the finely ground endosperm of durum wheat, adds a rustic note to this cake and gives it a slight crunch. The olive oil gives it a light texture, the syrup makes it moist, and the grapes are a surprise addition.

Serve small glasses of the Moscato wine with the cake as a special treat.–Fran Gage

Semolina-Olive Oil Cake with Drunken Grapes Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • 4 servings


  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) Moscato
  • 8 ounces seedless grapes (about 40), halved
  • 1/3 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces by weight) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (4 1/2 ounces by weight) semolina flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces by weight) granulated cane sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (5 1/4 ounces) delicate extra-virgin olive oil with tropical notes


  • 1. Pour the wine into a small bowl. Add the grapes. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the bowl and add the bean as well. Macerate the grapes for 30 minutes. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and reserve the wine, vanilla seeds, and bean.
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), positioning the rack in the middle. Line the bottom of a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
  • 3. Sift both flours, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  • 4. Put the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat with the paddle on medium speed, gradually adding 1½ cups of the sugar. Turn to medium-high speed and beat until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  • 5. Turn the mixer speed to low. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer running, gradually add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the olive oil in 2 additions (start and end with the dry ingredients). Fold half of the macerated grapes into the batter with a spatula.
  • 6. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
  • 7. Let the olive oil cake cool completely, still in the pan, on a rack. Run a table knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a plate. Peel off the parchment paper and turn the cake right side up onto a serving platter.
  • 8. Poke holes with a skewer at 1-inch intervals in top of the cake, stopping before reaching the bottom.
  • 9. Make a sugar syrup by boiling the reserved wine mixture with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until it reduces by half. Strain the syrup.
  • 10. Spoon the warm syrup over the cake. Serve with the reserved macerated grapes.
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