Basbousa, a Classic Semolina Cake

Basbousa is a traditional Middle Eastern cake made from semolina, yoghurt and blanched almonds and soaked in a sweet syrup flavoured with lemon, rose water and orange blossom water.  The home blanched almonds also give this cake a lovely crunch. Basbousa is so delicious and cut into small squares makes a lovely sweet treat for any special occasion.

Basbousa, a Classic Semolina Cake


  • 1 1/2 cups of fine semolina
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups whole Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup butter (125g)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • raw almonds for blanching and decoratingIMG_20181016_165828-Rose and Orange blossom water


  • 1 1/2 cups of white sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp rosewater
  • 2 tsp orange blossom water


  1. Preheat oven to 200º C Fan forced
  2. Line a square cake pan approx 23cm x 23cm with some baking paper
  3. Blanch the almonds by bringing a small saucepan of water to a rolling boil and then placing the raw almonds into it all at once. Leave in the boiling water for no longer than 60 seconds then strain and immediately rinse with cold water to prevent them softening. Timing is important if the almonds are to keep crisp. Then the skins will contract and be easily removed by using your fingers to press them off. Set the blanched almonds aside
  4. Place semolina, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and butter into a large bowl
  5. Using fintertips, rub in butter until the mixture looks like crumbs and the butter is well incorporatedIMG_20180910_213215-Nammoura 2a
  6. Add yoghurt to the semolina mixtureIMG_20180910_214034-Nammoura 3
  7. Stir through with a wooden spoon till well incorporated
  8. Spoon the semolina mixture into the prepared baking pan and smooth it into all the corners and level the mixture
  9. Score the semolina all the way through into even squares about 5 cm and push a blanched almond into the centre of each squareIMG_20180910_215821-Nammoura 5a
  10. Set aside and rest for 3 hours to allow the semolina to swell
  11. In the meantime, prepare the syrup by placing the sugar, water, and the lemon juice into a small saucepan over a medium heat stirring to dissolve the sugar
  12. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring until the syrup becomes thick then set aside to cool
  13. When the resting time for the semolina has finished place the baking pan into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until it is evenly browned and golden
  14. When cooked remove from the oven and cut the semolina into squares (the score marks will still be visible)
  15. Carefully spoon the cool syrup evenly over the hot semolina till all incorporated and set aside until coldIMG_20180910_223533-Nammoura 8a
  16. Serve and enjoy this delicious cake with your favourite tea or coffee.IMG_20181130_101430-basbousa 1

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