Thursday, March 15, 2012

Solet: Bread and Cake

Way back in the Winter of 2003-4, I was a student at Yeshivat Har Etzion. One of my fondest memories is eating hot bowls of "diysa" - basically cream of wheat - that the kitchen made out of leftover milk. That creamy porridge, made with full-fat 3% milk, was delicious.

Flash forward to the present day. After a long time I finally figured out that this porridge is made with סולת - a coarse semolina that you buy in the flour aisle, not the breakfast cereal aisle, which is why it took me so long to find it. I bought it in the only size available - a 1 kg bag. Turns out, though, making a large portion of diysa only requires like 1/3 a cup of solet. In other words, I had to find some other uses for the stuff.

Enter solet bread and solet cake. In both cases, I made sure to google recipes in Hebrew, to avoid confusion with the fine milled semolina that people use for pasta making. Solet cake is a traditional Israeli dessert, and recipes abound. Solet bread is less common, but there were still a number of recipes I could choose from, based on which worked best with the ingredients I had around the house.

For the bread, I chose a sweet, enriched recipe. The dough included eggs and honey, and a mixture of solet and regular flour. It was a bad recipe; the final dough was excessively sticky and I had to add in a bunch more flour until it attained proper bread dough consistency. Oh, and I cut my flour with gluten, as I am wont to do when breadmaking.

Despite the bad recipe, the final product was very satisfying. The crust was toasty and crunchy, while the interior was soft, and slightly sweet. The bread lasted a while, making good sandwiches but even better toast. The sandwich pictured above is a spicy tuna sandwich - tuna salad mixed with hot sauce. Oh man. Make this sandwich...

I don't have the recipe for the cake but, again, they can easily be found online, and are all pretty much the same. The defining feature of a solet cake is the syrup that's poured over it after it comes out of the oven. Orange syrups are common, but we based ours on date syrup, giving dark, bittersweet caramel flavors to the cake. The cake itself is similar to a corn muffin - a dense, rich, crumbly texture.

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