Monday, February 16, 2009


That cake not doing it for you? Why don't you try dousing it with sugar syrup? Because that can't be bad, right? Especially if that sugar syrup is lemony and sweet and fragrant with rose water, and the cake is dense and rich with semolina and yogurt. Basbousa - a cake popular throughout the Mediterranean under several different names - is quite sweet, and should probably be cut into much smaller pieces than this. In my defense, my version was not as syrup-soaked as is traditional, because I was impatient to eat it and didn't want to wait around for more syrup to soak in. Recipe after the jump:

For the Cake:
7 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs
12-1/2 oz (2 cups) semolina
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 oz (1/2 cup) blanched almonds

For the Syrup:
16 fl oz (2 cups) water
2 cups superfine sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp rose water

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Start by making the batter. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well. Gradually blend in the semolina and the baking powder. Add the yogurt and mix well until the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 12-inch round oven-proof pan. Cut into diamond shapes and place an almond in the center of each diamond. Bake for about 35 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

In the meantime, make the sugar syrup: In a saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, then add the lemon juice and reduce the heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.

When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and pour the cooled syrup over the hot cake. Cool, cut and store in an airtight container.

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