Pyramid Cakes (Semolina and honey cake)
(part of an ongoing series in which I share recipes presented at The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail)
Athenaeus, “The Partying Professors”
In his book “on cakes”, Iatrokles makes mention of khoirinai and what are
called Pyramous, which he says are no different from what people call
Pyramis. For these are made from toasted wheat soaked in honey. They are
served to those who have stayed up all night for religious festivals
This isn’t much of a recipe, to be honest, so I had to do some work to make a dish of it.
I claim no authenticity or historical relevence beyond the fact of influence by the instruction found.
My version is based on Persian semolina halvas I have had. I have no documentation whatsoever
that implies what the characters in the play quoted might have implied by “toasting.”
All that said, this has been a runaway hit wherever it has been served, so I thought it would be rude to keep
1 cup water
1 cup honey
2 cups semolina flour (sold as Sooji in Indian markets)
1 1/2 cups butter or neutral flavored oil
1/4 tsp salt
Mix honey and water in a pan and heat over low flame. Bring it to boil and set
In a separate pan, toast the semolina, until it begins to changes color.
Add the butter or oil, sauté flour and butter for several minutes until the flour
is golden brown.
Add syrup slowly and beat hard until well incorporated.
Use a processor, if needed. Simmer over medium heat until it sets up and
becomes a unified pâté .
Press into molds or pan. Chill.
Grant, Mark. Roman Cookery. London: Serif Cookery, 1999. 43. Print.
Grant, Mark. Roman Cookery. London: Serif Cookery, 1999. 154. Print