basbousa: semolina almond cake

by Heguiberto on July 8, 2011

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This is another great recipe from Tess Mallos’ North African Cooking. We served it after the mouthwatering broiled corvina in charmoula marinade, based on a recipe from the same book, the day our super good friend, Kristen, came into town. A meal with guests wouldn’t be complete without dessert, so this adaptation of basbousa, a semolina almond cake, was perfect.

basbousa  semolina almond cake

basbousa: semolina almond cake

The original calls for caster sugar and fine semolina; neither of which we had. So as usual, we improvised. I think that the fine sugar and semolina would’ve made the cake taste smoother. Though I actually enjoyed the rougher texture, as this way it reminded me of Brazilian corn cake, a perennial favorite.

basbousa: semolina almond cake

for the batter:

¼ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups semolina
1tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ cup plain whole milk yogurt
½ cup slivered blanched almonds

for the syrup:

2 cups sugar
1½ cups water
Juice of a large lemon

for the whipping cream:

1 cup heavy cream
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Beat together butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Add eggs. Keep beating until fully incorporated. Meanwhile sift remaining dry batter ingredients together. Fold it into butter mix alternating it with yogurt. Fold in almonds. Transfer batter to a buttered 9 by 12 baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Begin making the syrup by dissolving sugar in water under moderate heat. Bring to a boil, add lemon juice and let liquid reduce by a third. Remove from heat and let cool down to room temperature. Pour syrup over hot cake right out of the oven.

pouring sweet lemon syrup over hot basbousa

pouring sweet lemon syrup over hot basbousa

Whip cream together with a tiny amount of Confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy.

Plate cake slices on individual dessert dishes with a dollop of whipped cream.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna July 8, 2011 at 4:57 am

This looks very tasty. Can’t wait to try it!!
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Erika Beth July 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm

What an interesting cake. I would love to taste it some day!
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Faith July 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Your basbousa looks like it came out beautiful! This is such a tasty cake and you’re right, it reminds me a great deal of corn cake too. If you like coconut, a handful or two of the unsweetened kind is a lovely additon to the batter.
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Heavenly Housewife July 9, 2011 at 10:26 am

I am a huge fan of these kind of middle eastern style cakes and baklava. All you need to go with it is some mint tea 😀
*kisses* HH
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OysterCulture July 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

What a yummy sounding dessert. I love semolina and almonds, that kinda crunchy gritty texture – this would be perfect for me with the apricots I have sitting on the counter looking lonely.
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tasteofbeirut July 9, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Basbousa is the Egyptian name and we call it Nammoura; same cake except we don’t add the eggs. I made a version once with cranberries in the batter to cut the sweetness. Like you I love a coarser texture. Would love to hear and see you do more Brazilian specialties; I saw a chef make a Brazilian dessert with coconut and a bunch of egg yolks, can’t remember the name.
Your cake came out beautiful. I have Tess Mallos book on Middle Eastern Food, it is at least 30 years old, but I still can’t part with it.
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Magic of Spice July 10, 2011 at 9:15 am

Looks like it came out wonderfully…I enjoy a slightly coarser texture with these types of cakes. Sometimes the need to adapt has delicious consequences 🙂
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Heguiberto July 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I didn’t know about the other name. It didn’t say it in the book. The recipes there are great. I have made Brazilian desserts with coconut and egg yolks we call it Quindim.

Manja July 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm

i love sweets! wow beautiful pictures. That looks gorgeous and delicious.now i am hungry T.T i will try out the recipe^^

Nina July 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Stevie, what a lovely cake! I like the improvisation…I bet the texture was great, with a “rougher” crumb. Looks like such a simple one—I do have caster sugar but no semolina. Improvising is good! 🙂
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Anna Nismiya August 26, 2015 at 5:03 am

Last day I too made Basbousa .Oh my god I got loads and loads of appreciation from all my peers..

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