Libyan Saefra, King Solomon’s Cake

Libyan Saefra, King Solomon’s Cake

From King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World


Date Filling

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound pitted dames, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups (440 grams) cream of wheat
1 cup (225 grams) coarse semolina
1/2 cup (115 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (257 ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (257 ml) orange juice
Grated zest from one orange
1/2 cup blanched almonds for garnish
1 tablespoon sesame seeds for garnish

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar or 34 cup (150 grams) sugar and 3/4 cup (180 ml) honey
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.

2. To make the filling, pulse the oil, dates, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves in a food processor with a steel blade until a thick paste has formed.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream of wheat, semolina, sugar, baking powder, vegetable oil, orange juice, and orange zest to create a thick batter.

4. Spread half the batter into the prepared pan, then top with the date filling, spreading the mixture with a spatula to the edges of the pan. Pour the remaining batter over the top, smooth the surface, and score the top of the cake into 2-inch diamond shapes. Gently push one whole almond vertically into the center of each diamond, then scatter the sesame seeds over all. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden on the top.

5. Fifteen minutes before the cake is done, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, honey (if using), 12 cup water, and lemon juice to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat, add the saffron, and let steep for 5 minutes. Pour the warm syrup over the cake when it is done. Let stand for at least 6 hours or more, so the cake completely absorbs the syrup.

Yield: 8-10 servings