Fork Spoon Knife is the personal blog of Asha where she chronicles her journeys in food through stories, recipes and photographs. She can also be found doodling and sharing her experiences as below.



Citrus Frivolous: Orange Pannacotta, Lemon and Poppyseed Semolina Cake and Citrus Sauce - Daring Bakers

Citrus Pannacotta with Semolina Cake and Citrus Syrup
The Citrus Pannacotta was featured Gourmet Live!

I almost did not make this DB challenge. As usual, I pushed it to the eleventh hour, which, normally is manageable. But, this time, the elements were not working with me. The sudden and drastic turn in the weather, last week, left me holding my head in my hands, willing the shooting pain to go muss someone else's life.

Sigh.. yes, Sinus trouble. After 28 years of free breathing and cooperative nasal passages, I seem to be caught in the throes of a mutiny! I am caught powerless and unable to stem the seige. What is worse, it has the most inconvenient timing! All of last week was a wash out of throbbing temples and ineffective medication :(.

Citrus and Poppyseed Semolina cake Collage

So, come Saturday, the 26th, I was still unsure of what the day would bring. To make matters worse, my downstairs neighbor, far too young, was hitting the highs on his stereo and alcohol. At 4 am, I was woken up by my heart thumping irresistibly to the beats of the music reverberating from beneath.

After a frustrating half hour of trying to turn a deaf ear, I woke the poor hub to go do the manly thing and get the guy to see sense. Well.. it's hard to drive sense into a stoned out mind!:-O We spent a good amount of time buzzing the guy's door to no response. We guessed he had passed out and had to go back and make the best of it. So the music went on, and eventually, my poor tired body won over my heart's light footed-ness.

Nevertheless, when I woke up, my sinus was still an issue. Mr. FSK showed me a grandma's technique for nasal wash and it was somewhat effective, atleast for a while. I decided to make the most of my, what was likely to be a, fleeting luxury of painless lucidity. Searching for inspiration, I reached out to my short stack of cookbooks and came across a recipe by Chef Richard Leach that had me captivated.

Citrus Pannacotta 1

It helped that it was a pannacotta dish, just perfect for this challenge. But, what made it interesting was that it was a beautiful and well thought out plated dessert.. one with multiple components like those whipped out by the best pastry chefs. So, I decided to tweak and adapt it, to make it more approachable.

My mind set to the task, I decided to ignore the pangs up North and plowed through it. OK! it was not so bad. The recipe does have multiple components but they are not so time consuming to put together. It does need a bit of planning but is quite worth it.

The warm sponge like cake soaking in the hot citrus syrup forms the perfect counterpoint to the crispy meringue and cold pannacotta. Chef Leach had accompanied a similar dessert with a fruit sorbet and I do think it would have made a great addition to the dessert, making the hot and cold play even more compelling.


So, let me present my Citrus Frivolous: Orange Pannacotta, Lemon and Poppyseed Semolina Cake and Citrus Sauce.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Citrus Pannacotta

2 cups half and half
2 tsp powdered gelatin
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1/2 grapefruit
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 T lemon grass stalks

Bring 1-1/5 cups of half and half and all other ingredients other than the gelatin to a boil. Remove from heat and steep for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bloom the gelatin in the remaining milk.

Strain out the lemon grass and most of the zest and add the hot milk to the bloomed gelatin and whisk vigorously to dissolve the gelatin completely. Divide into the pannacotta molds and refrigerate for atleast 3 hours. When ready, run a sharp knife around the edges to release the pannacotta from the mold.

Lemon and Poppyseed Semolina Cake

Citrus and Poppyseed Semolina cake 1

1/2 cup apricot flour
1/2 cup fine semolina
1 T poppy seeds (black preferred. I used white because I did not have any black ones)
scant 1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
60 g egg whites
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 T baking powder (heaped)

Mix all the ingredients except the butter into a smooth batter. Add the butter and mix just until incorporated. Divide the batter into cup cake molds, filling upto 3/4 level of each mold. Bake at 300 F for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool on rack for a few minutes before releasing from the molds.

Citrus Meringue

80 g egg whites
80 g sugared apricot meal (grind 1/2 cup of apricots with 1/4 cup granulated sugar very finely. Reserve the rest for the cake or another use)
2 T cup sugar
zest of 1 grapefruit

Whip the whites to stiff peaks. Slowly add the sugar and continue until the mixture becomes glossy and holds stiff peaks. Mix the zest into the almond meal and gently fold it into the meringue just until incorporated. Transfer to a piping bag with a small round tip and pipe out 2.5 inch disks of about 3 mm thickness on to a silpat. If you have a stencil, it works best.

Bake at 260 F for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Cool and carefully peel off the disks. Store in an airtight container.

Citrus Sauce

juice of 1 pink grapefruit
2 oranges juiced
2 T sugar (or to taste
1 small stick cinnamon
1 T butter
1/4 cup water

Bring everything to a boil and keep it rolling for 45 seconds. Remove from heat. Make this just before serving.

To Assemble:

Place a semolina cake at the base of a shallow soup bowl. Place a meringue disk over the cake and top with the pannacotta. Pour the citrus sauce until it comes up to 1/4 the height of the cake. Serve with slices of orange or grape fruit, mint and a fruit sorbet (optional).

Citrus Pannacotta with Semolina Cake top view


  1. What a fantastic version - love the whole concept and flavours. It looks so pretty plated up. Well done and I hope you feel better soon!

  2. What a refined and beautiful dessert! You did a wonderful job. I love your take on that DB challenge.



  3. Wonderful job, I love the look of the little cakes...

  4. Gorgeous dessert, and well plated too. I feel your pain about the sinus problems, I'm having issues too recently, although I don't have to contend with an unruly neighbor!

  5. This is a beautiful dessert! You have such a fine imagination when it comes to assembly and presentation!

    All that vitamin C should help out your sinus infection! Feel better!

  6. Simply beautiful photography! Citrus panna cotta and the lemon poppy seed cake sound like a fantastic taste combo.

  7. So sorry to hear you are suffering from allergies and an inconsiderate neighbor.

    With that said your dessert is incredible! If this is what you make when you don't feel well I can't even imagine what you create when you're feeling fine!

    It looks delicious and your presentation is picture perfect! Congratulations on a job well done!

  8. I'm sorry about your neighbor. He sounds like a nightmare. I'm also sorry to hear you're not feeling well. You made an amazing dessert in spite of it all. Beautiful!

  9. What a beautiful and creative rendition of this month's challenge! I hope that you are feeling much better... did your husband's method happen to involve a netty pot? My family loves those... Anyway, your panna cotta (and the whole dessert), as well as your photographs are wonderful. Great job.

  10. That's your 11th hour work? Seriously? That's some serious last minute mojo :)

    Awesome take on the recipe considering. Kinda wonder what you would have come up with had you had time.

  11. What a beautiful plated dessert. I like the different textural contrasts, great job. I am sorry to hear about your sinuses it can be incredibly painful.

  12. Asha - Stunning work, as always. Sorry to hear about your sinus and neighbor issues, but you clearly focused your energy into this challenge and emerged with an amazing dessert loaded with passion, flavor, and creativity.

  13. Such striking photos... the grapefruit slices have my mouth watering (I can't resist citrus). Beautiful entry for DB!

  14. Ha, ha! And you were asking about my last minute plating.
    And then you turn out dessert like this when you are sleep deprived and have sinusitis? Girl, I'm not a patch on you. :)
    Love the pic of the cakes in the pan.

  15. This looks so delicious! I love the flavors and your little cakes - so sweet. Job well done!

  16. –źbsolutelly perfect! Beautiful and delicious!
    Sorry about your sinus problems...

  17. I have no words... almost no sleep, a sinus problem and you came up with this BEAUTY!?!?!?!?! You rock!

  18. Your combination is fabulous!!!

    Hope that you start feeling better

  19. The citrus sounds great. Very lovely presentation.

  20. I can't believe you threw this together at the 11th hour! Phenomenal and the photos are stunning!

  21. Sorry to hear you've not been well and I totally sympathise with selfish noisy neighbours having suffered the same thing in my previous home.

    Your photos look stunning and I like the semolina cake instead of the florentine cookies (which didn't work at all for me).

  22. OMG your spin on the challenge is outstanding I love the semolina cake with the panna cotta and the citrus sauce and pieces are a great touch also. Exquisite photography as always. Bravo bravo bravo to you inspired.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  23. Wow, that is one lovely looking panna cotta with all the elements. If I had to eat it, I wouldn't know where to begin... stunning pictures!

  24. That is such a gorgeous dessert, very sophisticated, and the flavor combination sounds just perfect. I wonder what you would've done if you weren't dealing with the sinus problems and that neighbor!
    Hope you get better very soon!

  25. Hey Shelley.. somewhat on the netty pot principle of gravity but not quite. it involves snorting up warm water through the nostrils so it goes all the way deep into the sinus routes and comes back out cleansing on the way.. it's painful for a minute but works.

  26. Yum! So beautiful and elegant, and delicious looking!

  27. Delicious !! Gr8 click too .... Hope you are doing well !


  28. Wow what a gorgeous captures.. absolutely love it.


  29. Can't believe you can make such gorgeous desserts while you're feeling unwell..hope you feel better soon and I can't wait to see your fabulous food again!

  30. That looks amazing! Must have tasted delicious...

  31. Well I am certainly glad you did make the challenge. I love the little light cakes especially. GREG

  32. Well I am certainly glad you did make the challenge. I love the little light cakes especially. GREG Sippity Sup

  33. What a fabulous combination of flavors and the styling is gorgeous! Love the beautiful dish.

  34. Sorry you've been having sinus trouble! That kind of stuff is just the worst. However, kudos for soldiering on and making a truly gorgeous dessert. Great job! :)

  35. Stunning! What a great combination of flavors. These gorgeous pictures are so tempting that I would like to start following your recipe so late at night and try it.
    Happy top 9.

  36. I love all the citrus flavours you incorporated into the dessert, and the presentation is simply stunning! Hope you feel better soon :)

  37. Beautiful photos!
    Thanks for sharing!

  38. What a beautiful plated dessert. I like the contrast of different textures, great work. I'm sorry to hear your sense of smell, can be very painful. I think I should try it at home.

    Fitted kitchens

  39. Oh my Gosh Asha, You were able to prepare and assemble such a wonderful dish with sinus. Hats of for that. It not only sounds good looks so good too. That refreshing citrus sauce yummy.

  40. Beautiful dish! I am glad you were able to model through it. Congrats on Top 9!

  41. This is gorgeous. Can I ask about the sugared apricot meal. Did you use fresh or dried apricots to grind? Thanks!

  42. Hi Anna,

    I use apricot kernels to make the meal. The nuts look like almonds but smaller and taste very close to almonds.

  43. I love that you pulled through with a fantastic dish despite the sinus congestion! Definitely love the flavors and textures going on here!

  44. Congratulation on being top 9 ! The dessert is looking simply sensational with gorgeous presentation...cheers !

  45. Ouch... I hate it when I get woken in the middle of the night by neighbours! Especially when you're already not feeling too good! Your pannacotta on the other hand looks extremely good!

  46. Simply gorgeous!
    Congrats on Top 9!

  47. This is amazing! I make panna cotta all of the time and this looks so good! This a saver for me!!

  48. I LOVE the look of your dessert and the citrus flavours with the cake and, amazing.

  49. great way to get vitamin c. you know, my mom never had sinus problems in India but has them here. I think it is that your body gets used to a certain kind of pollen and then you move and it goes nuts.

    lovely post good choice.

  50. So sorry about your sinus problem.. but hats of to you really.. Because still you can make such a fabulous dishes. You are really a master chef..I really like your creativity in this recipe.It looks superb.. Very well presentation.

  51. Beautiful photography! I like perspective on the first image of this post..I like your accent, is sexy and beautiful :)

  52. Hello,

    I loved you concept. As per my knowledge, citrus fruits are good in Vitamin C, & it is necessary. So you post is good & it tells us the advantages of it.


  53. Thanks for sharing such wonderful recipe.. Must try

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  56. What a gorgeous plated sweet. i prefer the various textural contrasts, great job. i'm sorry to listen to concerning your sinuses it are often incredibly painful.

  57. Superb what a nice dish Its so yummy . I like it very much.

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