Classic Burmese Semolina Cake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    5 or 6

Appears in


By Naomi Duguid

Published 2012

  • About

Because this cake is tender and a little fragile (no eggs to help it firm up), I make it in a small pan, so that slices are easier to handle. I bake the cake in a cast-iron skillet, but you can also use a cake pan or even a pie plate. The taste is very light and clean. Include a few golden raisins if you like and/or top this with slivered almonds. This is a very handy cake if you are serving pure (non-egg-eating) vegetarians or vegans (use oil rather than butter for vegans).

I serve this from the pan.


  • ½ cup semolina flour
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canned or fresh coconut milk
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 4 tablespoons butter or ¼ cup peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced almonds (optional)


Place the flour in a heavy skillet and toast over medium-high heat until aromatic and touched with golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and add the sugar and salt, then add the coconut milk and water and stir to make a smooth batter. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Set out a 6-inch cast-iron skillet or cake or pie pan.

Place a heavy skillet or wok over medium heat and add the butter or oil. When the butter has melted or the oil is hot, add the batter and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking, for about 20 minutes, until thickened and sticky. If you wish, add the raisins about 5 minutes before it’s done.

Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle on the sliced almonds, if using. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. It will still be very soft when done; let cool completely, a couple of hours, before serving.