Thursday, November 8, 2012

Semolina Cake - Basbousa or Namoura






I hope everyone has had a wonderful Halloween. Halloween passed without much fanfare in our family, but something that has been receiving a lot of attention by my family lately is this semolina and coconut cake. Even though everybody in our family has different preferences when it comes to food in general, this cake was relished by all of us, not once but three times last month. This cake doesn't have a cakey texture but it is very soft, moist and slightly crumbly. It smells heavenly from the rosewater and tastes even better on the second day.  

It goes by many different names and is wildly popular in Greek, Turkey, throughout the Levant and the North African countries, since many of these countries share a common Ottoman heritage. 
The recipe varies a great deal though, some contain eggs while others don't, some include yogurt while others include milk, some made with butter or clarified butter and others with vegetable oil, some with coconut and others without. I made it egg-less and without milk to store it a little longer. A piece of this delectable semolina cake, and perhaps a cup of Moroccan mint tea, is everything you need to be transcended to another world in this autumn cold. 

Cake:

2 cups (350 g) fine semolina (cream of wheat)
1/2 cup (35 g) unsweetened, desiccated coconut
1/2 cup (100 g) caster sugar
150 g melted butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup (200 g) plain Turkish yogurt (10 %)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
20-30 blanched almonds or almond flakes (for garnish)

Syrup:

1 cup water
1 cup (225 g) caster sugar
1 1/2 tbs rose water
3 tsp lemon or lime juice

Method: 

To blanch the almonds, boil the water until it is hot and bubbly. It will take about 7-8 minutes with the lid on. Place the almonds in a small bowl and pour about half of the hot water over the almonds and put a lid on. Allow the almonds to soak in the hot water for about 10 minutes. Take an almond out and rub it between your fingers. If the skin doesn't come off easily allow the almonds to soak for a little longer. If they come off easily, pour the water out and start blanching all the almonds. Spread the almonds on a dry towel and pat dry and keep them in the towel overnight. I cut the almonds into halves but if you find that difficult, you could use whole almonds or store-bought almond flakes.  
   
The syrup has to be at room temperature and the cake should be warm when you pour the syrup over the cake, so you have to prepare the syrup before baking the cake. To make the syrup, boil the sugar and the water at medium heat. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Then add the lemon juice and remove the scum (if any) that floats to the top. Add the rosewater and boil until the syrup thickens a little (if you stir with a spoon, it will coat the back of the spoon and if you touch it, the syrup will feel a little thick and slimy). Don't let the syrup boil for a long time and thicken up too much though, it means less syrup. It will take about 15 minutes to boil the syrup. Once ready, remove from stove and allow to come to room temperature.  

In a large bowl, mix the semolina and the baking soda. Then add the coconut, sugar and salt and mix well. Add the melted butter and yogurt and mix well with a spoon until well combined and it comes together. With 3/4 cup yogurt it all came together for me but you could add a little bit more if you have difficulty it combining everything. Either way, the batter will be thick and come together, almost like a dough. Lightly butter a 27 cm (about 10 inch) non-removable cake p
an/pie plate before placing parchment paper (so that the paper doesn't move) and then lightly butter the sides and the bottom (if you use a cake pan with removable bottom, there is a risk that the syrup runs down the sides). Spoon in the cake batter and even it out on top with a spoon. Allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes. Then cut the cake into diamonds or squares (before baking it). Place the blanched almonds or almond flakes in the middle of each diamond/square and gently press them down a little.


Bake the cake at 175 C (350 F) in a preheated oven, in the middle rack for about 20 minutes first. Take the cake out and gently cut it into diamonds/squares again (if you cut the cake when it is fresh out of the oven, it might crumble. This is why it is good to cut it before it is fully baked). Place the cake back into the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes until it looks golden and crisp on top. Take the cake out
and spread the syrup slowly and evenly on top of the cake. Allow the cake to soak up the syrup for a couple of hours or overnight and cool down to room temperature. Then cut the cake again when it has cooled down before serving. You can keep the cake refrigerated, and warm it up before serving. You have to warm it up before serving, otherwise it will feel like a brick. I don't warm up the whole cake, only the pieces that are to be served - a few seconds in the microwave is enough. You can keep it refrigerated for up to 1 1/2 weeks.     

45 comments:

Vijayalakshmi Dharmaraj said...

yummilicious cake... drooling here...
Today - Round ups for my first event - FEAST FOR YOUR GURU
VIRUNTHU UNNA VAANGA

Vimitha Anand said...

That looks awesome... Beautiful clicks

Amy's piece of cake said...

Äntligen ett blogginlägg! :)

Så gott Rathai, detta gillas starkt! Önskar du kunde skriva dina recept på svenska också så sådana som mig får det enklare att laga till dom ;) Även om man kan engelska så är det trixigt att konvertera måtten osv...

Kram på dig!

Hovkonditorn said...

Looks perfect and sounds delicious!

M D said...

Its eggless! I am inspired instantly. In love with your recipe, blog and pictures. Stunning!

Sangeetha Nambi said...

OMG ! its tempting me...
http://recipe-excavator.blogspot.com

cquek said...

oh my! yum, yum, yum! Can I just come eat at your house?!

mjskit said...

The first time I tasted a sweet treat made with a touch of rosewater I thought my brain had gone wacky and my senses were lying to me. Nothing could taste that good!! This cake has left me in awe! It's beautiful and the recipe is just absolutely delicious! I really, really hope to make it some day!

Lizzy Do said...

My gosh, is this beautiful!!! Rathai, your cake is as gorgeous as it must be tasty!!!

Adam said...

looks tasty

Curry and Comfort said...

What an amazing cake!! I love so your pictures so much ..especially how you have the recipe inside them on the blank white spaces. Very well done!!

Uma Ramanujam said...

Simply attracted me. Bookmarking right away. You have nice blog with nice collection of recipes.

Rathai said...

Thank you everyone for visiting and leaving your feedback and comments. It means a lot to me.

Amy,
Javisst kan jag ange måtten i dl också framöver. Det hade jag faktiskt inte tänkt på, eftersom jag har så få besökare från Sverige.

Uma,
Thank you and so do you. As a matter of fact, I have been following your blog ever since I found it a long time ago. :)

Mahi said...

Basbousa looks delicious Rathai..U won't believe, I bookmarked a recipe for basboussa loooo...ong back and whenever I see that bookmark in my tablet, I was wondering when am I gonna to do that? :)

As usual nice pictures and thanks for the recipe!

Rathai T said...

Thanks, Mahi. I know how it feels, I also have a looong to-do list. Some I don't have the courage to try for now and some I'm not sure whether my family would enjoy. I don't want to be the one to lick up the whole plate and put on massive weight. :)

Amy said...

Looks really delicious & perfect!!Love your presentation....

Subhie Arun said...

Looks delicious ... Lov ur space n ur shots r really gorgeous.....hapi to follow u..! Glad if u do the same....

Http://www.subhieskitchen@blogspot.com

Rathai T said...

Thank you, Amy.

Subhie, thanks for dropping by my space and for your comment. Malaysian cuisine is one of my favorites and I'm really happy to follow you too.

tharisi said...

Looks like a magazine cover..I don't know how you do it!

Reshmi Mahesh said...

Thanks for ur visit dear...You have got an awesome space and the cake looks super yummy and very neatly presented..Beautiful clicks too...

semolina sugar said...

Really magnificent recipe you have! I do very like it! In fact its been a long tome that I am looking for perfect and simple semolina recipe ... Now I have found it! Thanks a lot!

Play angry Birds said...

Really mouthwatering cake..beautiful...

Mahi said...

Wish You n Your Family A Very Happy & Healthy New Year Rathai!

kankana said...

Lovely cake. Never made cake with semolina before. Is it sticky or like any other cake texture ?

Rathai T said...

Kankana, thank you. It is definitely not sticky but the texture is a little different from cakes made from all-purpose flour. This cake is more dense. I think if you substitute some of the semolina with all-purpose flour and add a tsp of baking powder it will probably get a regular cakey texture.

Thank you everyone for dropping by and leaving your comments.

Bharathy said...

How did I miss this post! Making this sweet is not an easy thing..real challenging! Had tried them during my visits to middle east twice or thrice. SO rich and classic! Daring you tried it and made it perfect!!!

So what makes you keep away from blogging, Rathai? Come back!!! and post your lovely pictures and recipes, wont you? :(

Bharathy said...

Cant take my eyes off the pictures!!! esp the neatly lined almond halves topping the cake!! AWESOME!

Mahi said...

Hey Rathai..h r u? Long time, no see?! Hope all izzzzz well! take care!

Ruwani Kumar said...

Looks so moist

Ruwani Kumar said...

Sorry couldn't complete the sentence, something wrong with blogger.
Looks so moist. Once I had it at a restaurant it was too sticky and like a paste in your mouth.This looks a perfect.

Anonymous said...

just stopping by to say hey

Hari Chandana said...

OMG.. Very delicious and mouthwatering cake.. looks absolutely amazing.. thanks for the wonderful recipe.. Love it :)

easyfoodsmith said...

Lovely creation there! it looks divine and soooo tempting. Beautiful clicks.

ChelviS said...

I have been looking for this recipe for a while. Thanks for posting this. Looks really pretty and yummy

Anonymous said...

I literally drooled looking at those pics. Outdoor residing envy is the worst.
:)

Also visit my page arrow sheds greenhouse

easyfoodsmith said...

Hello Rathai! Is there any mailing address where I can reach you?

sangeetha pn said...

Looks so very beautiful.. M drooling here.. Glad to be here and happy to follow you .. Try visiting me whenever you are free!

john jay said...


oh I like that it looks so tasty this so lovely cake i ever see here on internet.
i love eating that's why im too fat now :)
but most of the time what i eat are any kind of chocolates
like milk chocolate ,French macarons, and macarons london and so on.
well anyway that cake recipe above is interesting i wanna try that.


Anonymous said...

Can this be frozen?

Rathai T said...

Anonymous,

To be honest, I have no idea if it can be frozen. I usually put mine in the fridge. If you try to freeze this cake, do let me know how it worked. :)

Anonymous said...

Followed the recipe to the T. Turned out awesoooome. My eid went fabulous. Thanks alotml. Will make again for sure

Rathai T said...

Anonymous,

I am really so happy to read your comment. Your comment made my day. :) I'm SO glad you liked it and thank you for your feedback!

/Rathai

Unknown said...

Hi Rathai,
The Basbousa looks awesome, just the eggless recipe i was looking for. Can i replace the turkish youghurt with regular full cream yoghurt??
Beautiful clicks..........
Anita

Rathai T said...

Hello Anita,

Thank you so much. :) Sorry for the late reply. Yes, I think you can replace the turkish yoghurt with regular full Cream yoghurt (assuming regular means it is unsweetened). Good luck and have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rathai, tried yr recipe and we loved it. It was so light and yummy healthy. I didn't add the syrup just ate it plain. It was really good and will be making this again. Is it possible to add in some flour to make it fluffier? tks.