Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cream of Wheat: It's not just for breakfast anymore

When our family first moved to San Diego, my sister was about 9 and I was 11.  We'd been uprooted from our home in DC, driven miles across the country in an old Volvo station wagon loaded down with luggage, pillows, and guinea pigs, then plopped down in a strange town full of palm trees, surfers and a lot of bald guys in sailor hats.   Perhaps sensing that some form of transition plan was needed*, our parents devised "Sundays".

The rules were simple.  Every Sunday, a different member of the family was in charge for the entire day.    You got to pick the meals.  You got to pick an outing.  And everyone else had to go along for the ride.

It was kind of genius.   We went all over town in the first few months, horseback riding (my sister), beach combing (me), apple picking (my mom), and antique car racing (my dad).

But it was also an opportunity for two sisters to exact cruel and unusual punishment on each other.

My Sundays:  Oatmeal for breakfast, every single time.
Her Sundays:  Cream of Wheat for breakfast, every single time.

To this day, she hates oatmeal.  I've come around on Cream of Wheat.

Especially now that I know you can have it for dessert.

Caramel-topped Semolina Cake
This is the first of many from the new cookbook Around My French Table, by Dorrie Greenspan.  The book has already inspired nearly 1000 fans to join together to try and cook their way through it, a different recipe every Friday.  Given my miserable record with the Daring Bakers, don't count me in for the full marathon, but if I had to start somewhere...

Unfortunately for my visions of a warm, buttery, slightly nubby cake dripping with thick, rich caramel sauce, it turns out that the title is actually in code.

Caramel-topped means Syrup-soaked
Semolina means Cream of Wheat cereal
Cake means Pudding

If you put the whole thing together, the recipe was actually for...
Syrup-soaked Cream of Wheat Cereal Pudding.
And that I might have skipped.  But like our family Sundays, I went along for the ride.

The recipe couldn't have been easier.  Cook the cereal in milk until thickened, add sugar and vanilla.

While that's cooling, make caramel** and put it in the bottom of a baking pan.     

Beat eggs and, in my case, chopped fresh cranberries tossed with a little sugar and orange zest, into the cooled cereal mixture.

Pour batter over caramel sauce.  Bake.  Watch it puff in the oven, then fall flat the minute you take it out.   Turn upside down on a plate.

Pray.  Lift.  Ooh! Ah...Um.  Hmm.
I think I made flan*** by mistake.

Oh well.  I like flan.  In this instance, the caramel flavor has soaked through completely, and the contrast with the bright berries and the smooth vanilla pudding is oddly well matched.    The stuff melts in your mouth.  Not something most cakes do.

Let's just say that while I might not choose to make this again when my Sunday comes around, I never left my plate this clean when my sister fed me Cream of Wheat.

* The reason we moved to San Diego in the first place was that the White House was going through a transition plan of its own back in DC, and my dad and the rest of the political appointees from the prior administration  had been summarily swept out of town.
** Just sugar, water, and a bit of corn syrup.
*** A nicer way to say "Syrup Soaked Cream of Wheat Pudding"


  1. I enjoyed your post. Isn't it fun to read stories from others who have similar, etc...and we can get to know each other just a bit. And your cake project is beautifully done, and...I am glad I can read about your experience because this is the cake I bake for my next post.

  2. Welcome to the group. Lots of fun people and great ideas. I enjoyed the post. I will be making this one next week and have been putting it off. Thanks to your post I'm a bit more intrigued. B:)

  3. Welcome! I love your family's Sunday ritual and your cake turned out really well.

  4. Welcome to FFwD! I loved your post. I grew up in San Diego and reside in LA now. I look forwarf to reading more of your blog.

  5. I love that photo of the bubbling, slightly brown, sugar. For some reason, it's my favorite part of the caramel process. (Aside from eating it, of course!)

  6. Fellow FFWD bloggers, thank you for the warm welcome and all of your kind comments!