Recipe: Basbousa (Semolina cake)

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Semolina cake from The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos. Photo / Alan Benson
Semolina cake from The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos. Photo / Alan Benson

Serves 8-10

• 125g (cup) butter, preferably unsalted
• 170g (cup) caster sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla essence
• 2 eggs
• 250g (2 cups) fine semolina (farina)
• 1 tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
• 185g (cup) plain yoghurt
• Blanched split almonds
• Syrup
• 440g (2 cups) sugar
• 1 Tbsp lemon juice


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20x30 cm slab cake tin.

2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Sift the semolina, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda twice, then fold into the butter mixture alternately with the yoghurt.

3. Spread the batter into the tin. Arrange the almonds in rows on top of the cake, placing four rows across and seven down - so that when the cake is cut, an almond will be centred on each piece.

4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar in 375ml (1 cup) water over medium heat. Add the lemon juice and bring to the boil, then allow to boil rapidly for 10 minutes. Cool the syrup by standing the pan in cold water.

5. Spoon the cooled syrup over the hot cake. Allow the cake to cool thoroughly.

6. To serve, cut into diamond shapes or squares. Serve with thick whipped cream if desired.

- NZ Herald

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