It has been a while since I shared a dessert recipe here on the blog, so much for challenging myself to more baking! So, how about a little basbousa? Basbousa is an Egyptian semolina cake drenched in syrup. Today, I'm sharing my aunt Maha's special recipe!

Slices of Basbousa garnished with coconut and sliced almonds

It's Easter weekend. Definitely the time when our minds are busy with egg-cellent recipes and ham or lamb dinners, am I right? In case you missed them, two of my favorite egg recipes are: shakshuka and this easy Mediterranean egg casserole. As far as lamb goes, I admit, I can't quite decide on one; braised lamb chops, lamb rack, or leg of lamb? What have you decided on for your Easter dinner?

And for dessert?

Semolina treats are popular throughout the Middle East and parts of Europe. There are, quite frankly, too many semolina cake variations out there. Some recipes call for eggs, others call for yogurt. Some use a honey-based syrup, others use a sugar-based syrup. Some syrups are flavored with citrus like orange or tangerine peels, and others use spices like cinnamon or cloves. All semolina treats I have tried are pretty good, but my aunt Maha's basbousa is my absolute favorite!

Basbousa cake in a serving dish with one slice removed

The date was July 18, 2014 when aunt Maha graciously e-mailed me her recipe for basbousa (semolina cake drenched in syrup). This is among her specialty dishes that I have counted on enjoying every time we visit her home in Toronto. And because we were not going back for a while, I asked for the recipe so that I can make it for my family and friends in Iowa. Ask and you shall receive!

Slice of Basbousa ready to be served

I don't know why it took me this long to share this basbousa recipe on the blog. There are two theories behind my reluctance: my selfish desire to keep the recipe all to myself; or, that I am, subconsciously of course, extremely fearful that aunt Maha would not approve of me circulating her recipe. After all, this is a family recipe that she has kept close for years. And here I am, in just a few strokes of the keyboard, making it available to all! Then again, aunt Maha is one of the kindest most generous people I know. She would understand that this is for a greater good.

I have tweaked things slightly,  but this remains aunt Maha's authentic Egyptian basbousa recipe. This is my kind of fuss-free dessert that yields impressive results. I hope you try it soon!

Remember to pin this recipe and share it with loved ones.

Here is the step-by-step for this basbousa (semolina cake):

(print-friendly recipe to follow)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the butter in a small bowl and melt in the microwave. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine together the sugar and yogurt. Now add in the semolina, baking powder and milk. Finally stir in the melted butter, and let the mixture sit briefly so that the butter is absorbed.

Sugar, yogurt, semolina, baking powder, milk and butter combined in a pot in a step-wise fashion
Transfer the semolina mixture into a lightly greased 9"-round cake pan or baking dish.

Semolina mixture transferred to a greased pan

Bake in the 350 degrees F heated-oven for about 40-45 minutes. If necessary, broil ever so briefly so that the top of the basbousa gains color. Watch carefully. When ready, remove from oven.

While the basbousa is baking, prepare the cinnamon simple syrup. In a small sauce pan or pot, combine the sugar, water and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Turn heat to low and let cook for a few minutes until the syrup thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let cool completely, then remove the cinnamon stick.

Preparation of the simple syrup with cinnamon stick in pot, simple syrup poured over semolina cake and topped with sliced almonds and coconut
As soon as the basbousa is removed from the oven, pour the cool syrup on the hot basbousa. Let cool completely; syrup must be absorbed into the cake. For best result, let it sit for 1 hour before serving.

When ready to server, top the cake with the coconut chips and the coconut and shaved almonds. Slice and enjoy!

Piece of semolina cake with bite taken out of it

 

 

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Basbousa: Almond Coconut Semolina Cake Recipe


Description

Basbousa is an Egyptian semolina cake drenched in syrup. Today, I'm sharing my aunt Maha's special recipe!


Ingredients

Scale
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup fine semolina PLUS 1 cup coarse semolina (or 2 cups coarse semolina or 2 cups original Cream of Wheat enriched farina)
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut or coconut chips
  • ¼ cup shaved almonds

Cinnamon Simple Syrup:

  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ¾ cup water
  • 1 short cinnamon stick
  • ¼ tsp lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the butter in a small bowl and melt in the microwave. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine together the sugar and yogurt. Now add in the semolina, baking powder and milk. Finally stir in the melted butter, and let the mixture sit briefly so that the butter is absorbed.
  4. Transfer the semolina mixture into a lightly greased 9"-round cake pan or baking dish. Bake in the 350 degrees F-heated oven for about 40-45 minutes. If necessary, broil ever so briefly so that the top of the basbousa gains color. Watch carefully. When ready, remove from oven.
  5. While the cake is baking, prepare the cinnamon simple syrup. In a small sauce pan or pot, combine the sugar, water and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Turn heat to low and let cook for a few minutes until the syrup thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let cool completely, then remove the cinnamon stick.
  6. As soon as the basbousa is removed from the oven, pour the cool syrup on the hot basbousa. Let cool completely; syrup must be absorbed into the cake. For best result, let it sit for 1 hour before serving.
  7. When ready to serve, top the cake with the coconut chips and the coconut and shaved almonds. Slice and enjoy!

Notes

  • Cooking tip: Allow cinnamon simple syrup to cool completely before pouring it onto the hot basbousa
  • Cooking tip: For best results, let Basbousa sit for 1 hour before serving. This allows for the syrup to be absorbed into the cake.
  • Visit our store to browse our spices, olive oils and bundles!
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Keywords: Basbousa, Semolina Cake, Coconut Semolina, Almond Coconut Cake, Cake, Sweets

More Dessert Recipes:

Greek Yogurt Parfait with Kahlua and Nuts

Easy Middle Eastern Rice Pudding

Baklava 

Easy Apple Strudel with Phyllo

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. Hello. My family loves this recipe. It is my husbands one request for his birthday each year! This year, we are feeding way more people than usual and I want to multiply the recipe and bake in a 9x13. How would you adjust the time for baking?

    1. Hi, Meredith. It's hard to say exactly, as we've never tested multiplying the recipe and baking in a 9x13 pan. As long as it's the same thickness as it usually is when you cook the regular amount in a round pan, it really shouldn't take that much longer. I recommended starting to test for doneness at the 40-45 minute mark, and then keeping a close eye on it after that. Another way to increase the amount would be just to make 2 round cakes (2 separate batches). Hope that helps! And happy birthday to your hubby!