Basbousa – a traditional Egyptian semolina cake

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Basbousa
Basbousa
Basbousa – a Mother’s day treat from me to my mom!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful moms in the whole wide world! More strength to you all!!!

Maa, mummy, mom, mata shri, mommy, mumma – doesn’t matter what I call her, she would always be the rock behind me to support, she’s the one who made me realise how strong one can be and helped me understand what righteous mean. She made me believe there’s nothing one can’t achieve if he/she puts his/her 100% into it.

Napoleon Bonaparte said “The word impossible is not in my dictionary” and I think he gifted the same dictionary to my mom 😉

I would fall sort of all adjectives to describe her but if I have to choose just a single word to define her I would say “My mummy is the STRONGEST”!

Today we celebrate Mother’s day in India & in the US. We did celebrate it here in the UK in march. However, I was quite busy that time so couldn’t share anything. This time I thought to bake a cake to dedicate to my mum 😀

My mum never did any baking but many times, on our birthdays, when there was no cake available in the only bakery in the town, she made cakes with suji halwa (semolina pudding) and decorated it with cashew nuts and raisins. How creative!! Isn’t it? Little she knew that in some part of the world people do make cake with semolina. So when I had my thinking cap on deciding what should I make for her, suji cake/ semolina cake surfaced as the first thought. 

Moreover, it’s an eggless cake so it’s just perfect for her. 

Basbousa
Basbousa

Basbousa, a traditional Egyptian cake made with semolina, coconut, rose water, sugar syrup and topped with almonds, is truly delicious and really easy to make. 

This classic dessert has many variations and names throughout the Middle East. Some recipes call for orange flavoured syrup, some calls for yoghurt in the batter, some are made with cream or some uses eggs/condensed milk. I was looking for the most basic and authentic recipe of this semolina cake and after going through various pages and YouTube videos, I adapted this recipe.   

Basbousa
Basbousa

This cake is not very sweet and is soaked with sugar syrup flavoured with rose water and lemon juice. The coconut flavour with a hint of rose water that comes with every bite is amazing. It’s quite easy to prepare and best thing is, you can bake it ahead of time and serve to your friends and family once it’s completely cooled down.

Don’t we all love the dessert that can be ready in advance so that when guests arrive, you don’t have to stand in the kitchen to prepare something for them?

This cake can be made vegan too. Simply replace the milk used in the recipe with any other plant-based milk like soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk. Butter can be replaced with vegetable oil or coconut oil. Use unrefined or palm sugar in place of normal sugar.

Lets’ see how to make this easy-peasy super sumptuous no-fuss dessert.

How to make Basbousa

Basbousa
Basbousa

Preparation time: 15 minutes + 1 hour – 6 hours resting time 
Baking time: 20-25 minutes
Baking equipment used: One square or rectangular baking dish, can be made in round dish too
Makes for 8-10 people

Ingredients : 

For sugar syrup :

400 grams or 2 cups sugar

375 millilitre or 1 1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon rose water

For cake : 

500 grams or approx 3 cups medium coarse semolina (known as suji/rawa in Hindi)

50 grams or 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

100 grams or 1/2 cup of sugar

3/4th  teaspoon of baking powder

110 grams or 1/2 cup of butter, melted

100 grams or 1/3 cup of hot sugar syrup (from the syrup made with above mentioned ingredients)

225 millilitre or 1.5 tablespoon less than 1 cup lukewarm milk

15-20 almonds, blanched and halved

little butter to grease the pan

[1 cup = 250 ml]

Method : 
  • First make the sugar syrup. Add sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling add lemon juice to it. Boil it for another 2 minutes. Switch off the flame and add rose water to it.
  • In a big bowl, add semolina, desiccated coconut, sugar and baking powder. Mix them.
  • Add melted butter and 100 grams of sugar syrup prepared as above. Mix them to just combine.
  • Add lukewarm milk to it. Mix everything together. DO NOT overmix.
  • Grease a baking dish with butter. Spread the mixture evenly in to the greased baking dish. Use your hands to press gently to form a smooth top. Cover the dish with cling film and keep it at room temperature for 4-6 hours. I kept my batter in the fridge for an hour and then 20 minutes outside the fridge. 
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C/fan 160 C/350 F/gas mark 4.
  • Cut the basbousa into diamond shape with a sharp knife dipped into the water. Place blanched almond on every diamond shape and press gently. 
  • Bake the basbousa in the preheated oven for 20-22 minutes or until done.
  • To get the nice golden colour on top, broil them (after baked) under the grill for 2-3 minutes or until you see a nice coloured crust on top.
  • Pour the cold syrup on basbousa as soon it comes out of the oven. Let it cool and soak all the syrup before serving.
STepwise pics of making basbousa :  

 

Stepwise pics of making basbousa
Stepwise pics of making basbousa
Notes : 
  1. Recipe calls for resting time of 4-6 hours but to speed up the process I kept it in the fridge. You can do either way. People even keep the batter overnight in the fridge. Remember to bring it to room temperature before baking.
  2. The broiling step is completely optional. I did it to get the nice colour on the top.
  3. To blanch almonds, keep them soaked in water for 30-40 minutes. Then peel and cut them into halves.
  4. While pouring sugar syrup on the basbousa, you may feel that the syrup is little extra for the cake but it’s not! Just pour all the syrup on the top as it will get soaked by the cake.

This is one of the easiest and yummiest cake I have ever made. Well, I made it for my mum  😀 

Another easy-peasy recipe is Easy-peasy lemon squeezy Eggless Lemon cake

Did you check my previous post on Basics of baking Cookies with troubleshooting and FAQs ? 

Do subscribe to get recipes straight into your inbox. 

I will meet you soon with another bake and some more tips & tricks.

Till then do take care of yourself and keep baking.

Jxx

Basbousa - a traditional Egyptian semolina cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Basbousa, a traditional Egyptian cake made with semolina, coconut, rose water, sugar syrup and topped with almonds, is truly delicious and really easy to make. This cake is not very sweet and is soaked with sugar syrup flavoured with rose water and lemon juice. The coconut flavour with a hint of rose water that comes with every bite is amazing. It's quite easy to prepare and best thing is, you can bake it ahead of time and serve to your friends and family once it's completely cooled down.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Egypt
Serves: 8-10 people
Ingredients
  • For sugar syrup :
  • 400 grams or 2 cups sugar
  • 375 millilitre or 1½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • For cake :
  • 500 grams or approx 3 cups medium coarse semolina (known as suji/rawa in Hindi)
  • 50 grams or ½ cup desiccated coconut
  • 100 grams or ½ cup of sugar
  • ¾th teaspoon of baking powder
  • 110 grams or ½ cup of butter, melted
  • 100 grams or ⅓ cup of hot sugar syrup (from the syrup made with above mentioned ingredients)
  • 225 millilitre or 1.5 tablespoon less than 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 15-20 almonds, blanched and halved
  • little butter to grease the pan
  • [1 cup = 250 ml]
Instructions
  1. First make the sugar syrup. Add sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling add lemon juice to it. Boil it for another 2 minutes. Switch off the flame and add rose water to it.
  2. In a big bowl, add semolina, desiccated coconut, sugar and baking powder. Mix them.
  3. Add melted butter and 100 grams of sugar syrup prepared as above. Mix them to just combine.
  4. Add lukewarm milk to it. Mix everything together. DO NOT overmix.
  5. Grease a baking dish with butter. Spread the mixture evenly in to the greased baking dish. Use your hands to press gently to form a smooth top. Cover the dish with cling film and keep it at room temperature for 4-6 hours. I kept my batter in the fridge for an hour and then 20 minutes outside the fridge.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180 C/fan 160 C/350 F/gas mark 4.
  7. Cut the basbousa into diamond shape with a sharp knife dipped into the water. Place blanched almond on every diamond shape and press gently.
  8. Bake the basbousa in the preheated oven for 20-22 minutes or until done.
  9. To get the nice golden colour on top, broil them (after baked) under the grill for 2-3 minutes or until you see a nice coloured crust on top.
  10. Pour the cold syrup on basbousa as soon it comes out of the oven. Let it cool and soak all the syrup before serving.
Notes
Recipe calls for resting time of 4-6 hours but to speed up the process I kept it in the fridge. You can do either way. People even keep the batter overnight in the fridge. Remember to bring it to room temperature before baking.
The broiling step is completely optional. I did it to get the nice colour on the top.
To blanch almonds, keep them soaked in water for 30-40 minutes. Then peel and cut them into halves.
While pouring sugar syrup on the basbousa, you may feel that the syrup is little extra for the cake but it's not! Just pour all the syrup on the top as it will get soaked by the cake.

 

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Jayshree

A self-taught baker and an iPhone photographer who believes passion is the necessary ingredient in baking and every step must be savoured and enjoyed! I feel baking is therapeutic and easy. All you have to do is to gather your ingredients, measure them, mix them with a pinch of love and let the magic work!! Thank you for stopping by and going through my work. Let me know how you find them? All inputs and suggestions are highly appreciated. Thanks!

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