Almond and Semolina Sugee Cake by Sasha Gill

Sugee cake and I have history: we go way back. Every birthday, wedding or celebration culminated in the slicing of one of these gloriously golden cakes. No one made this cake quite like my grandpa did – he was something of an expert, despite never following a formal recipe himself. This cake is usually laden with egg yolk (at least six) and butter, to be eaten in small slices. As you can imagine, it wasn’t the easiest thing to make vegan, but I kept at it until I cracked it. I figured I owed it to myself, as I never did get that eighteenth-birthday sugee cake…

Serves 12

Prep time: 30 minutes (plus overnight softening time)

Cooking time: 45 minutes


  • ½ cup (115 g) vegan butter
  • 1½ cups (300 g) fine semolina
  • 1 cup (250 ml) plant milk
  • ½ cup (75 g) plain flour
  • 1 cup (130 g) firmly packed icing sugar
  • ½ cup (130 g) vegan yoghurt or ½ cup (125 ml) coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup (40 g) finely chopped almonds
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam, for brushing
  • flaked almonds and whole pistachios, to garnish


Vegan marzipan

  • 1½ cups (150 g) ground almonds
  • 1 cup (110 g) sifted icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract – optional

Cream the vegan butter in a large bowl to soften it, then mix in the semolina and plant milk. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge overnight to soften the semolina.

Next day, preheat the oven to 180°C, and grease and line an 18 cm round cake tin. Take the bowl of semolina from the fridge and sift in the flour and icing sugar. Stir well, then add the yoghurt, baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla and almond extracts, agave syrup, brandy and cinnamon.

Mix until just combined, then fold in the almonds. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the marzipan. In a food processor, blitz the ground almonds for 30–60 seconds to make them a little finer – but don’t over-process or you’ll end up with almond butter! Tip out into a large bowl and sift in the icing sugar. Drizzle in the maple syrup, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon water, and the almond extract, if using. Knead until it starts to come together. Shape into a ball, then flatten into a disc – this will make it easier to roll it out later. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour before using.

Let the cake cool completely before turning out of the tin.

Roll out the marzipan into an 18 cm circle. Warm the apricot jam in a small pan (or the microwave) and brush over the top of the cake. Lay the marzipan onto the cake, then garnish with almonds and pistachios.

NOTE This cake is not too sweet, even with the apricot jam and marzipan, so it’s perfect for anyone without much of a sweet tooth. However, if you like your cakes a bit sweeter, add up to ¼ cup (30 g) more icing sugar and another tablespoon of plant milk.

Recipe and images from Jackfruit and Blue Ginger by Sasha Gill, published by Murdoch Books

Jackfruit and Blue Ginger by Sasha Gill

90 plant-based veganised versions of traditional Asian recipes inspired by the food of India, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and China.

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