Basbousa (Semolina & Coconut Cake)
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: 15-18 pieces
For the Cake
  • 320 grams (11.2 oz) semolina
  • 70 grams (2.4 oz) desiccated coconut
  • 150 grams (5.3 oz) caster sugar (super fine)
  • 50 grams (1.7 oz) plain flour (I used spelt flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 135 grams (4.7 oz) yoghurt
  • 135 grams (4.7 oz) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Up to 25 blanched almonds
  • Optional: Dried rose petals, to decorate
For the Syrup
  • 110 grams (3.8 oz) white sugar
  • 200ml (6.7 fl oz) water
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  1. Grease a 23cm (9 inch) round cake tin and line with baking paper (I just used a regular ceramic pie dish and lightly sprayed it with cooking oil - it was quite easy to cut each slice straight from the dish).
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
For the cake:
  1. In a large bowl, combine the semolina, coconut, caster sugar, flour and baking powder.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the yoghurt, melted butter and vanilla extract.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well to combine (it will be very thick).
  4. Place the cake batter into the prepared tin. Use the back of a spoon (or the palm of your hand) to smooth out the top. Cover and rest for 20 minutes.
  5. Make deep cuts into the cake in the shape of diamonds. Press a blanched almond into the centre of each diamond. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
For the Syrup:
  1. While the cake is cooking, place the white sugar and water in a saucepan over a low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the rose water, orange blossom water and lemon juice. Increase the heat to medium and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until thickened and syrupy.
  2. Once the cake is cooked, remove from oven and immediately pour over the syrup (it will take a while for the liquid to sink in*).
  3. Let the cake completely cool in the tin before removing. Decorate with dried rose petals before serving.
If you find the liquid doesn't sink in after a while, I've read that you can place foil over the top and put it back in the turned off oven for 10 minutes to help dry it out.
Recipe by The Kiwi Cook at