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! )

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.
In a large bowl mix semolina, baking powder and powdered sugar.
IMG_5807Add yogurt, ghee, rose water and orange syrup
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.

Make impressions to cut out squares later.
Place some chopped almonds and pistachios at the centre of each square.
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.
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!