H is for Halvas Fourno

Halvas Fourno, I hear you all say, what on earth is that?  This is a recipe from Greece which I found in Cakes from Around the World by Julie Duff.  Translated it means ‘Semolina Cake’.  I don’t think I’ve used semolina very much in cakes, although I have used it in shortbread, so this is a new one to me.  Reading through the recipe, it sounded very much like a very indulgent lemon drizzle cake, which as you will know if you’ve read some of my previous blogs, lemon drizzle cake is my absolute favourite cake of all time.

The foreword for the cake states that Greek cakes are often baked in shallow oblong or square tins topped with hot syrup and cut into diamonds or squares when cool.  This cake is simple to make, wonderfully aromatic and perfect served with a tiny cup of strong Greek coffee, which balances out the sweet syrup taste of the cake.


  • 125g butter
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225g semolina
  • 150g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 250ml milk
  • Flaked almonds


  • 200g caster sugar
  • 250ml water
  • Juice of 2 lemons


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Grease and line the bottom of a traybake tin (18cm x 28cm).
  3. Weigh all the ingredients (except the flaked almonds) into a bowl and mix gently to cream the mixture together.  Slowly increase the speed of the mixer to incorporate the cake mixture until smooth and creamy.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the top.  Sprinkle the surface with a handful of flaked almonds.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until it feels firm when pressed with your fingertips.
  5. Whilst the cake is baking make the syrup.  Put all ingredients into a small pan and bring to the boil until all the sugar is dissolved.  Turn the heat down to a simmer until the liquid starts to thicken.
  6. Set the syrup aside to allow to cool a little.
  7. Once the cake is out of the oven, pour the syrup over the top, gently and evenly.  Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin before removing it.
  8. Once cooled, remove the cake (I left a strip of greaseproof paper overhanging two of the edges, so that I could lift the cake out of the tin as it is very, very moist from all the syrup).
  9. Cut into diamond shapes and serve.

The cake was extremely moist and very, very sweet.  In this recipe I have actually halved the syrup as I made the original amount and I had over half of it left, which I feel would have been far too much for the cake and it would have literally sat in the syrup.  It did, however keep very well and was lovely warmed up with custard the next day!



2 thoughts on “H is for Halvas Fourno

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