Semolina and Coconut Cake Recipe:
An eggless delight, such is this Middle Eastern Basbousa or Namoura cake that you won’t stop at one slice.
Last two days have been about bad cough, sore throat and headache, all making me feel crazy lazy. I hate being sick, although the pampering from Mr. H is undeniably a silver lining. The feeling of uselessness however is so overbearing that to resurface I needed a delicious dose of sweetness and `this semolina and coconut cake recipe is just the right kind of indulgence I needed.
It is better known as Basbousa in Egypt, Namoura in Lebabon or Ravenija in Macedonia but I’d simply stick with semolina and coconut cake. Well, while I can’t help you choose one name but what I can tell you for a fact is that this one’s going to become one of my favourite treats for my vegetarian friends. A soft, grainy textured cake slice that is moistened with a fragrant (usually rose but you may try orange or lemon too) syrup, the overdose of sweetness may sound a little unlike me but you know breaking the rules sometimes doesn’t hurt.
I had a vague memory of the distinct grainy texture of the basbousa we’d relished several times during our Dubai visit last year and when I bit into a slice of this cake today, the memories became vivid and alive.
Ingredients (Makes a 9 inch Square Cake, serves 8-10):
For the Semolina and Coconut Cake:
- 1 and ¾ cup fine Semolina
- ¾ cup desiccated coconut
- 1 tsp baking pwd
- 1 pinch of salt
- ½ cup castor sugar (or ¾ cup if you like the cake really sweet)
- ¾ cup thick yogurt
- ½ cup melted butter, aprox 100 gms
- 2-4 tbsp chilled milk, if required
- ¼ cup Almonds, soaked (20 in nos)
For the Syrup:
- 3/4 cup crystal or castor sugar
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp white rose extract (or orange blossom or lemon)
The Semolina & Coconut Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 190OC. Grease or line a 9 inch square baking dish.
- Mix semolina, desiccated coconut, baking pwd and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Separately cream yogurt, sugar and butter together in an electric blender until frothy.
- Add the liquid mixture to the semolina mixture in 2-3 batches and fold together. Leave on for 4-5 mins for the semolina to soak in. Then add a little milk as required if the batter is too thick.
- Spread the batter into the prepared tin, and using a knife dipped in hot water sore diamond shapes on the top of the cake batter. Place an almond in the centre of each diamond and bake at 190OC for 30-35 mins until the cake is golden at the sides and slightly golden on top.
- While the cake bakes prepare the syrup below. Once the cake is baked, allow to rest for 5 mins and then slice up the cake along the line of scores that you’d made before. Generously drizzle the prepared syrup all over the cake and let it soak for about an hour before serving.
- Add sugar, water, lemon juice into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Then simmer and let it reduce for 5 mins.
- Once the syrup is slightly thick (keep it runny to help absorption), remove from heat and set aside to cool. Then stir in the rose extract and pour over the bakes cake above.
Dos and Don’ts:
- Do not over bake the cake if it doesn’t brown up on the top.. Instead grill for a minute or two to get the browned top.
- Adjust sugar to taste, I have kept sugar low in the cake so as to adjust the sugar syrup later and finally get a balanced sweetness. If you like your cake really sweet, do add a little more sugar to the cake.