Basbousa is an interesting bake. It seems to come from the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and, maybe Greece, in various guises. Some recipes have coconut, some don’t. The one common is that it is made with semolina, though some recipes add flour too.
For my attempt, as per Titli’s Busy Kitchen omits the coconut. Titli also explains that in some places it is known as Hareesa.
Now I must say that this does have quite a lot of sugar in it, but so do most desserts etc from that part of the world. When I was in Turkey I sample several of the filo pastry confections, small and very, very sweet. This seems to be up there with that level of sweetness.
I used rose water in my syrup. Wow! what an aroma that small amount gave off as I stirred it into the syrup. It is the first time I have used it, and understand why so many recipes say to be careful not to use so much.
I must say the results of my bake taste delicous, and I love the texture of the semolina cake.
- 225 g (8 oz) semolina
- 225 g (8 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 340 g (12 fl oz) thick or Greek yoghurt
- 50 g (2 oz or 4 tbsp) melted butter
- 24 blanched almonds
- 1 tsp baking soda
For the syrup:
- 225 g (8 oz) sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ tsp rose water or orange water (optional)
- Begin by making the syrup. Put 350 ml (12 fl oz) of water in a pan and add the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to the boil with stirring.
- Boil the sugar solution vigorously with stirring for 8-10 minutes until the solution starts to look a little syrupy (110°C or 230°F on a candy thermometer). Turn off the heat, carefully stir in the rose water, then leave to cool.
- Put the sugar, semolina and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Beat the yoghurt into the mixture, followed by the melted butter.
- Pour the mixture into a greased 12″ x 8″ (30 cm x 20 cm) baking tray and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and press the almonds into the sponge so that when you come to cut the cake each piece will have a single almond at the centre. Return to the oven and bake at 180° for a further 20-25 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out (it’s best to use two chopping boards for this) and cut the cake into 24 pieces. Return the cake to the baking tray.
- Drizzle the syrup over the cake in three batches, allowing each batch to soak into the cake before adding the next. Leave for 2-4 hours to allow the syrup to infuse evenly throughout the cake.