Basbousa - Semolina cake
Basbousa is traditional Syrian cake made with semolina. It is wonderfully sweet and sticky, thanks to a perfumed syrup which is poured over the warm cake. The tahini brings a lovely flavour and texture too, creating a wonderful balance with syrup and moist cake. This cake is my favourite to serve at breakfast with coffee!
2 cups fine semolina
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup natural yoghurt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
Pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp tahini
1/4 cup pistachios or blanched almonds, to garnish
1 cup water
2 cups caster sugar
1 tbsp rose water
4 cardamom pods, bruised
Squeeze of lemon juice
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, except for the tahini and pistachios. Cover and leave for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. This will give the semolina time to absorb the liquid and to activate the bicarbonate soda.
Preheat your oven to 180C.
Grease a 22cm square tin with half of the tahini and spread the cake batter evenly into the tin. You can use your hands here. Smooth the remainder of the tahini on the cake. Scatter over the pistachios or almonds and gently press into the top of the cake. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 mins.
While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. Place all of the syrup ingredients, except for the lemon juice, into a medium pot over a high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved then bring to a boil and simmer for around ten minutes or until slightly thickened. Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir in. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Cut the cake soon after it’s come from the oven into squares, around 9-12, depending how large you want the pieces. Pour the cooled syrup onto the hot cake. Leave the cake to sit for 15 minutes, then serve immediately.
Nayran is a cook at Free to Feed a not-for-profit social enterprise that delivers a number of food-orientated initiatives through their HQ in Thornbury. Nayran has journeyed to Australia from Syria. As a child, Nayran observed her father cooking dinner every single night and the importance of families and friends feasting together is something very close to her heart. Nayran creates wonderfully aromatic and delicious treats – many that she prepared in her bustling Damascus restaurant – and loves to share with anyone willing to try something new. If you’re keen to learn a few tricks to spice up your repertoire, Nayran is a font of knowledge and will generously offer recipes, tips and techniques.