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Recipe: Basbousa Cake

Our recipe this week is inspired by our recent Sudanese Global Meal. Basbousa is a simple and delicious cake that can be found in numerous varieties throughout the Arabic speaking world. Its made with a base that includes what is sometimes called “semolina” or “farina”. In the US this is also called “Cream of Wheat”! Its certainly a little confusing because in this country we also call another type of flour “semolina” and it is commonly used to make pasta because of its high gluten content that gives pasta that nice al dente bite. Don’t confuse the two when making this cake because you will get very different results! I like to get mine from North Park Produce where it is labeled as “farina” but you can get it in any supermarket as “cream of wheat”.

Once you sort out the right type of flour to use the rest couldn’t be easier as it basically just has you mix it all together and press it into the pan. What takes it to the next level though is after its done baking it gets a soak in a richly flavored syrup. This is commonly scented with rose or orange blossom water but you can definitely make it your own and play with the flavoring. Try using a variety of citrus zest or vanilla bean in your syrup. Also, this dessert is typically garnished with chopped nuts but it could pair equally well with some delicious late summer fruit lightly dusted with a little sugar to get their juices going. The syrup also makes for a rich eating dessert so this 9x9 recipe can go a long way and makes any easy addition for that next backyard party!


Makes 1 9x9 pan

Unit Specification Ingredient Notes

2 Cups Farina (semolina)

1 Cup Dessicated Coconut

1 1/3 Cup Sugar

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 Cup Yogurt or Sour Cream

1 Cup Almonds or Pistachios For Garnish (optional)

½ Cup Butter Melted

For Syrup:

2 Cups Sugar

1 ½ Cups Water

1 Tablespoon Rose Water

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice


1. Preheat oven to 400 F

2. In a large bowl combine the farina, coconut, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Whisk together thoroughly

3. Add melted butter and yogurt and mix until a thick batter is formed

4. Spray a 9x9 pan with nonstick spray.

5. Press the batter into the pan to form about a 1 inch thick layer

6. Score portions or diamond pattern into cake with a knife

7. Garnish with nuts if desired

8. Place cake in the oven and bake 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean

9. Meanwhile, combine the syrup ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil to dissolve sugar.

Pour syrup over cake while still warm and allow to soak, overnight is best

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