Vegan semolina cake with almonds is my version of a traditional Turkish recipe called "sambali", or "sam tatlisi". It is very easy to make with 5 total ingredients. Hands-on preparation for only 10 minutes! You will not regret baking this moist & rich Turkish delicacy.
Often sold on street carts, sambali is a decadent semolina dessert local to my hometown Izmir and its surrounding area. You will see lovely people happily selling sam tatlisi, usually with a big dollop of Turkish clotted cream. There is a Turkish saying that goes “Tatlı yiyelim, tatlı konuşalım”, which roughly translates to "let's eat sweet, and talk sweet". I think whoever coined that saying was certainly onto something. Just look:
Looking at that photo fills my heart with joy. The only sad part is, sambali, as is, is not vegan. Neither is the clotted cream it is served with. It was high time to roll up my sleeves and veganize this longtime favorite with an easy swap. No fancy ingredients necessary, all we need here is some type of plant milk.
Is Semolina Cake Vegan?
It depends. Semolina itself is a byproduct of wheat flour and is totally vegan. However, many semolina cake varieties in Greece and Turkey use ingredients such as dairy milk, yogurt, and eggs. Luckily this 100% vegan recipe tastes just as good as the real thing! Case in point, my husband asked me to make this again as soon as possible. And he never craves dessert.
Ingredients for Vegan Semolina Cake with Almonds
For the Cake Batter:
- 1.5 cup plant milk (I used unsweetened, unflavored soy)
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups semolina (coarse-ground is better)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup blanched almonds
- Optional glaze: 1 tablespoon molasses + 1 tablespoon water
For the Syrup:
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- juice of ½ lemon
How to Make Sambali
- Make the batter by mixing the cake batter ingredients except for blanched almonds. After mixing for about a minute or less, spread the batter onto a greased baking pan.
- Let the batter cool in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, peel the blanched almonds.
- Make the syrup by mixing sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan. You can also add the squeezed out half of the lemon for more flavor. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let it simmer 5 minutes. Let it cool.
- When the batter is cooled, cut the slices in any shape you wish, diamonds and triangles are very popular. Place a blanched almond on each slice. You may glaze it with molasses & water for a deeper color.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the batter until golden, about 20-30 minutes.
- When the cake is baked, slice from the same places you previously had, since some areas may have mixed together again.
- Evenly pour the cooled syrup over the hot cake. Let rest for 1-2 hours.
- Serve hot or cool, and preferably with vegan clotted cream for an extra traditional experience. This recipe will keep in the refridgerator for up to 5 days, I don't recommend freezing.
Tips for Making this Semolina Cake
- I used a 18"x13" pan, go smaller for thicker slices or larger for thinner ones.
- For blanching, the almonds have to be raw. Do not blanch roasted almonds.
- You can buy coarse-ground semolina from Amazon or a local Middle Eastern/Turkish/Greek grocery store.
Optimizing Nutrition for Sambali
Is semolina cake healthy? Not this one. You can swap erythritol for sugar, but I highly doubt the end result will be similar enough.
Is semolina a whole grain? I wish, but no. You could try swapping it with corn grits, that is the closest texture & taste I can imagine for an unprocessed grain/vegetable.
This Vegan Semolina Cake is...
- Sweet (!!)
- & oh so delicious!
Looking for other veganized traditional Turkish desserts? Try my favorite turmeric rice pudding!
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you make this recipe!Print