Malai Mamaliga Cake. Preparation, styling, and photography: Sarah Liberman.
Malai Mamaliga Cake. Preparation, styling, and photography: Sarah Liberman.
Recipe

Malai Mamaliga Cake

In Romania and Moldavia, mamaliga is also eaten after it solidifies, like bread. This custom was the inspiration for this sweet mamaliga cake

Mamliga cake is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Mamliga, but the cornmeal – Mălai in Romanian – on which it is based, has an amazing and fun texture for sweets and baking.

The use of cornmeal is common in many Romanian dishes, but mamaliga is the most common and well-known of all and can be served as a side dish or as a main dish by itself.

Mamaliga was created as a dish by the poor and there are several versions or incarnations of its preparation: there is the basic porridge of corn flour that is cooked in water and served with cream or Orda cheese (which is slightly reminiscent of feta), later when the mamaliga hardens it is sliced like bread, and the slices are fried for toast and so on.

A weekly tradition that created the Mamaliga cake

At our house there was a day of the week that was “mamaliga day” – compressed, dry mamaliga was served for lunch together with scrambled egg or sour cream or for the really advanced fans of the genre – a hard and fat cheese called “bordoff” cheese.

And why do I tell you all this? – because this cake is a variation of Mamaliga with sour cream in a sweeter and richer incarnation.

By the way: Mamaliga cake is suitable for both Shavuot and Passover if you replace the regular self-raising flour with kosher for Passover self-raising flour.

Malai Mamaliga Cake. Preparation, styling, and photography: Sarah Liberman.
Malai Mamaliga Cake. Preparation, styling, and photography: Sarah Liberman.

Ingredients for Mamaliga Cake

  • 7 tablespoons (100 grams) butter soft, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8.8 oz (250 grams) 9% white cheese
  • 14 oz (400 grams) sour cream 27% fat
  • grated lemon peel from one lemon
  • 1 cup cornmeal coarse
  • 1 cup self-rising flour or kosher for Passover self-rising flour

Optional additions:

  • golden raisins
  • walnuts coarsely chopped

Instructions

  • 1. Heat the oven to 335F (170C) degrees.

  • 2. Line a springform pan with a diameter of 9.5" (24 cm) with parchment paper and grease the sides with butter.

  • 3. In a mixer or food processor, mix the soft butter with the sugar, vanilla extract, salt and eggs until uniform and airy.

  • 4. Add the cheese and sour cream to the batter and continue mixing until uniform.

  • 5. Finally, add the cornmeal and the self-rising flour and mix slightly until uniform - it's important not to mix too much so that the cake doesn't come out too dense.

  • 6. Pour the batter into the pan, even the surface and bake for about 45 minutes until the cake sets and browns a little. Stick a toothpick in the center of the cake and check: if the toothpick comes out dry, the cake is ready.

  • 7. Cool the cake at room temperature and serve together with a spoonful of sour cream.

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Bon appetit and happy holidays!

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