Basbousa- an Arabian Dessert Cake

Do we really grow up ever? Mmm… I say no! I recently got a brand new oven, a much larger one than my previous tiny one, and was all excited to try something new!
Edited 2Basbousa- This beautiful moist Arabian cake has been on my mind since Christmas last year when I saw it on Shireen’s blog here.  Hopped to Shireen’s blog but realised I had no tahina, condensed milk or desiccated coconut. Hunted some more and came upon this recipe at MAD About Kitchen, a blog I love to visit for its recipes as well as to admire the beautiful clicks. Thanks for the recipe Madhuri!

It felt like an apt treat to wind up my Lebanese/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern journey this month.
Edited3I made minor changes like using ghee instead of butter and orange syrup in place of orange blossom water.
I am wary of baking eggless cakes generally as I am a tad apprehensive about the outcome. This, though, is more a baked pudding soaked in an aromatic rose water and orange flavoured syrup
So here is Basbousa (translates literally to ‘just a kiss’- how lovely is that! )
Edited6

For the Cake
2 cups Sooji/Semolina
½ cup- Powdered Sugar
1 ½ tsp – Baking powder
1 cup – Yoghurt
100 g melted ghee (The original recipe calls for melted butter)
1 tbsp – Rose water
1 tbsp – Orange blossom water ( I used homemade orange syrup, a reduction of orange juice and sugar)
20 odd almonds and pistachios
Some dry and fresh rose petals

For the Sugar Syrup
1 cup – Sugar
1/2 cup – Water
1 tsp – lemon juice
1 tsp – Rosewater
1 tsp – Orange blossom water (I used orange syrup, even a few drops of orange essence work)

Grease a 24×24 inch pan.
IMG_5811
In a large bowl mix semolina, baking powder and powdered sugar.
IMG_5807Add yogurt, ghee, rose water and orange syrup
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Mix well till combined. It will be thicker than any other cake batter and is meant to be like that.
IMG_5809Transfer to the greased pan and pat down with fingers to level.
Smooth the top with a spatula.
IMG_5813

Make impressions to cut out squares later.
Place some chopped almonds and pistachios at the centre of each square.
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Cover and rest for one hour. Yeah! One hour. This helps the cake rise well.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C till the top browns nicely.

While the cake is resting for an hour, prepare the sugar syrup.
Bring water and sugar to a boil. Let simmer for 6-7 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Remove from heat and add rose water and orange syrup. Let cool.

As soon as the cake is out of the oven, sprinkle the top with the sugar syrup. Do it in batches and slowly so that the cake soaks up the syrup. So not put all the syrup at once.
Edited7
Cut along the marked lined into squares.
Edited 4Sprinkle some dry rose petals.
Garnish with some fresh and dry petals.
Serve straight from the pan lifting gently with a flat small spatula.
This is best enjoyed warm.
We teamed it up with thick mango shake and with vanilla ice cream another time. Both combinations were yum!

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31 thoughts on “Basbousa- an Arabian Dessert Cake

  1. Lovely…I am a fan of turkish and middle east sweet treats.
    Feel like hopping at your place right now. This looks so delightful Garima.

  2. hey garima, i tried same recipe, except i used unpowdered regular sugar, it turned out hard, never really did rise much….do u know what must have gone wrong? btw i used a 9 by 13 inch sheet cake pan…

    1. Hi Roopa
      I don’t think it is meant to rise much. And you need to make sure you pour the syrup as soon as the cake is out of the oven.
      Also, before serving, warm it a little and pour some syrup.

  3. Hey garima

    Thanks for the lovely receipe
    tell me can i make this in microwave as i dont have oven
    and how much tym it ll tke

    1. Hi Vandana
      You may bake it only if you have a microwave with convection mode. Same temperature and about 20 minutes should do it. Keep and eye and check with a tooth pick for doneness.

    1. Hi Khushboo
      I always store the sooji after roasting it slightly. Unroasted may be used. I used orange syrup as orange blossom water is not available locally.
      For the orange syrup, I simply boiled half a cup of orange juice with half a cup of water for about 5-6 minutes till it got a little thick, cooled and used it.
      Thanks and happy baking 🙂

    1. Hi Neeti
      You actually need orange blossom water which is not easily available.
      I substituted it with orange syrup for which I simply boiled half a cup of orange juice with half a cup of water for about 5-6 minutes till it got a little thick, cooled and used it.
      You can use some orange essence or skip it using only rose water.

    1. Thanks a bunch 🙂
      I used store bought rose water. For the orange syrup, I simply boiled half a cup of orange juice with half a cup of water for about 5-6 minutes till it got a little thick, cooled and used it.

  4. Hi Garima ji..I am a regular follower of your recipes..tried halwa, orange cake..both turned out great…had a few questions:
    orange cake: i used a 9 inch round pan…but it didnt rise as it did when you used a 8 inch one. should one inch make such a difference?

    basbousa: i dont have a 24by24 inch pan..can i use a 13 by 9? also is this the same rose water we get for applying on face..sorry for such a stupid-sounding question…:)

    1. Hi Seema
      Yeah I used a small pan and the cake rose well.
      I don’t think an inch should make too kaun difference.
      Yeah same rosa water.
      And I think the smaller pan should work for Basbousa.
      No question is stupid 😃 that’s how we learn.

      Thanks for your kind words and trying my recipes ❤️

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