A Middle Eastern Almond and Semolina cake that is light and airy, and soaked in a sugar syrup with rosewater and lemon to ensure it stays deliciously moist. It pairs well with a good cup of tea or coffee and is often served at special occasions such as Eid. This is a super easy (almost foolproof) cake that can be whipped up in just one bowl. Less washing up? That’s always a yes! In fact the trickiest thing about the cake is figuring out what to call it in English. Basboosa or Basbousa? Hareesa or Haresah?
Anyone glad to that it’s the weekend?? **Puts up both hands** I sure am, readers. I feel like I was running a 1K run and ended up dragging myself to the finish line. Recently, I have been trying to spend more time away from the laptop in slightly more analogue creative activities (recently it’s been this hand lettering/calligraphy trend) and it has been really soothing. I look forward to the time where I don’t have to stare at a screen for hours! I’ve also been enjoying some more baking recently, which is always a plus, both in terms of being a food blogger and also because baking has never really come naturally to me.
This cake is based on a recipe from a former Algerian colleague of mine. I am always cautious of Middle Eastern and South Asian desserts as they often have a lot of sugar in them and as I have mentioned a few times on the blog, neither myself nor my family like overly sweet desserts or bakes. I’ve tweaked this recipe so that it uses just a cup of sugar, which is about 200g split between the cake and the syrup. It means you can enjoy a little bit of a bigger slice without being overwhelmed by a cloying sweetness (is that a good thing or not??). If you would like a sweeter cake, you can increase the sugar in the cake two 1 full cup and 1/2 cup extra for the sugar syrup.
The texture of this cake is so light and fluffy. If you’re a long term reader of the blog and have seen my recipes such as my Blood Orange Pound Cake or my Raspberry Bakewell Cake, then you will know I am a huge fan of baking with ground almonds!
This cake has a similar taste to many popular Indian cookies and biscuits so if you have a traditional family who aren’t always keen to experiment with whacky new flavours (like me!) then this may be a safe yet flavourful option for you to try out.
If you enjoy this cake, then I would definitely recommend trying some different flavour combinations the next time. A little bit of citrus zest to the cake batter or some cardamom in the syrup would be great flavour enhancers. Or even a little vanilla in the cake batter. Similarly, feel free to top the cake with whatever takes your fancy. Pistachios would be very pretty or perhaps some flaked coconut. The possibilities are limitless!
Give this crowd pleasing cake a go, I am sure you will be glad you did!
- 1 cup semolina
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Flaked almonds for decoration
- 1/2 sugar
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6/200C/400F and grease two 8 inch cake tins or an equivalent size oven safe dish.
- In a bowl, mix the butter and sugar. Mix in one egg at time.
- Add the semolina, ground almond and baking powder slowly, mixing as you go and until everything is well combined.
- Pour the batter equally between the two cake tins. Bake in the oven for about 35 - 45 minutes until the cake is golden brown, springy to the touch and starts to come away from the sides.
- Halfway through the baking, sprinkle the tops of the cakes with the flaked almonds.
- Once baked, remove and leave the cakes to cool.
- To prepare sugar syrup, place sugar and water in a saucepan on a medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add rose water and lemon juice. Let it simmer to a boil then remove from heat.
- Once cakes have cooled slightly, use a spoon to pour the sugar syrup on to the cakes. The more syrup you add the more moist the cake will become. I added all of the syrup.
- This recipe yields 2 cakes. If you bake it in a long, rectangular oven dish, it will yield 1 larger cake.