Semolina and coconut cake (Basboossa)

August 1, 2009  •  Category:


Basboossa is the equivalent of the Arab world’s pound cake. Very rich and dense, delicious, yet simple to make and requiring only four basic ingredients: semolina, yoghurt, sugar and butter! It is a dessert that elicits a sigh of longing when it is  mentioned   to  Egyptians like my friend  Phoebe.  Comforting and basic,  it conjures  up moments of childhood spent roaming the  streets of Cairo or Alexandria  where cart vendors would sell it encased under plastic sheeting to protect it  from pesky insects.

Basboossa is a versatile dessert, amenable to many interpretations and variations.  I chose to adopt Chahira’s idea of adding  some coconut to my basboossa. I also decided to  bake it in tiny French-style tartlet molds, to try and control my urge to eat more I suppose. I got a basic recipe from Anissa Helou’s Mediterranean Street Food and adapted it by adding coconut and serving it in dainty tartlet-form instead of the traditional sheet pan.

  • 1 1/2 cups semolina
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (more for garnishing)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or 3 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • tahini paste to brush over the pans
  • sugar syrup or atter
  1. Brush the pans with some tahineh until the surface is thoroughly covered.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix all of the semolina, sugar, coconut,  baking  powder with a wire whisk or a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the butter and mix well.
  4. Add the yoghurt and mix until the batter is firm.
  5. Spread the batter and then flatten it gently to even it out in the pans. Cover and let it rest for at least 3 hours and up to overnight in the fridge.
  6. Prepare the syrup by mixing in a saucepan 1 cup of sugar with 1/2  cup of water and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Let it boil for about 10 minutes and then add the flavoring (rose and orange blossom water) if using, or vanilla or lemon extract. Cool.
  7. Heat the oven to 375F, bake the basboossa for 30 minutes or less if using small molds (about 10-15 minutes), until the surface is golden.
  8. Pour the syrup all over and let the cake stand for at least 1 hour to absorb the syrup.

  9. Add some coconut on top as a garnish. You can also toast the coconut in a skillet for 5 minutes if you wish.
  10. Sahteyn!



8 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Arlette says:

    this is an awesome pesentation, and gorgeous looking Basboussa, which I never seen served as individual serving… thank you so much for giving the readers more ideas to be creative .

    Are you back home of still in Lebanon???
    I am doing Lebanese pickles

  2. Alépine says:

    Présentation très originale ! Ca change des traditionnels carrés ou losanges.

  3. Sarah says:

    what a good idea to bake the basboosa in such pretty molds, makes them look so pretty.
    My husband’s grandmother was from Cairo and she used to bake this cake, always a family favorite.

  4. Laura says:

    This looks so good. Just found your website and I love it!

  5. sarah says:

    Salem Joumana, 3/1 de baton de beurre, ça correspond à peu prés à combien de grammes, nous achetons le beurre par des tablettes de 250g ici en France. Je t’écris de Lyon, une trés belle ville ….Merci pour tes belles et bonnes recettes, je viens de découvrir ton site. Bravo et merci de nous faire partager des recettes authentiques et bien présentées. Bonne continuation et merci encore

    • Joumana Accad says:

      @Sarah Merci de tous ces compliments qui me font chaud au coeur! Je vais m’atteler à donner les ingredients en grammes aussi. Bon, le baton de beurre aux US correspond à 113g donc 3/4 serait à peu près 85g.

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