I read somewhere that Basbousa, in Arabic, means “just a kiss.” So that’s cute. “Just a kiss cake.” It goes by many other names, as well, Namourah, Harisseh, Revani/Ravani and Sooji. If that’s any indication how delicious it is, lots of different countries have claimed it as their own.

Basbousa is honestly one of the tastiest desserts I’ve ever had, and I’m strictly a chocolate girl. It’s just so sweet and fragrant and the syrup oozes down your tongue by surprise, how can a girl resist? It’s no small factor that it’s also incredibly simple to make and requires almost no attention. Plus, it’s totally versatile. You can make bite-sized chocolate, coconut covered squares, or even cupcakes without screwing up the recipe. You can put ricotta cheese or nuts in between the layers, you can play with the proportions and you can top it with any nuts or garnish you want. Despite including healthier proportions in this recipe, it’s still perfectly fluffy, dripping with sweetness and 30 times more enjoyable because you won’t feel weighed-down after eating it. My grandpa likes it for breakfast!

I’m still trying to play with making the ingredients even healthier, so I’ll post an update soon. I made it once with no dairy at all, but I have to find where I left the recipe.

What you need:

1/2 c unsalted butter (you could substitute oil for this, or reduce it to 1/4, but if you do, increase the yogurt to 1 cup)

1/2 c sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 c semolina

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 c plain yogurt (though vanilla would probably be delicious)

1/2 c ground, unsweetened coconut (optional. this can go inside the batter or sprinkle some on top for garnishing.)

about 15 slivered, halved or whole almonds for topping (I’ve also used pistachio before)

For the syrup:

1/2 cup sugar

1 c water

2 tsp lemon juice

up to 2 tblsp rose water (this is really dependent upon your taste, but if you are using undiluted rosewater, just 2-3 drops)

This cake cooks perfectly as a cake; as these bite-sized chocolate, coconut covered squares; or even as cupcakes.

How to do it:

Preheat your oven to 300 F. The first thing you’ll want to do is make the syrup. Pour the water and sugar into a pot and bring to a boil and let boil for about 5 minutes. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the lemon juice and then let simmer for another five minutes. After those ten minutes, add the rose water, stir and remove from the heat. Pour the syrup into a bowl and place that bowl into a larger bowl filled with cold water in the fridge. Then take it out once your cake has cooked. The syrup should be somewhat thickened.

Combine butter, sugar and vanilla until somewhat fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat each one well before adding the next. The semolina and baking powder should be mixed together separately and then slowly added to the butter batter, alternating with the yogurt.

Once combined, pour the batter into a 7 x 11 baking tray (or whatever you have, just make sure that cake will get tall and not spread out thin) and place the almonds on top of the batter and spread them out so that when you cut the cake each slice has its own almond either resting flat or sticking up straight if your using slivers. Cook for 35-40 minutes but check at 30 minutes. The cake is done when it has a goldeny top.

Now, pour the cooled syrup all over the hot cake and let it sit for about 15 minutes so it can soak up all the sweet, sugary amazing-ness. Then you can cut it into squares or diamonds and serve!


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3 thoughts on “Basbousa Semolina Cake

  1. Annie says:

    They are SO cute! I have to make these!

  2. Sharmin says:

    Hi, I don’t know if I did something wrong, but my basbousa took forever to bake. The syrup didn’t soak in. The cake tasted sour due to the yogurt I think. Should I add a little baking soda to neutralize the sourness?

    1. Hi Sharmin,

      I’m sorry the cake didn’t work out for you! I’ve made this many times, and so have friends, so I’m surprised that it turned out like that for you. As far as the syrup issue, this recipe calls for a lot of syrup, so it’s not going to fully absorb and leave sight completely – there will be syrup dripping underneath. The only thing I can think of is that it might have needed to sit longer or that your syrup hadn’t fully cooled or thickened when you poured in onto the cake (I have since updated the recipe to note that it should be somewhat thick). Does that make sense of the syrup issue? As far as sourness, all I can think of is that maybe the sourness is a result of the brand of yogurt you used. Hope this helps!

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