Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Basbousa ( Libyan Semolina Cake)

I always thought my father was missing out on a lot where his birthday was concerned. He did not eat cake. I don't remember getting an egg less cake , did we even get one in the late 70's or 80's in India?
A traditional sweet was the highlight of the day.
How disappointing! Not having a (cream) cake, not blowing out the candles and cutting the cake with a chorus singing "happy birthday to you.... (and then trailing off with ) may God, bless you..." 
No paper plates with the customary slice of (cream) cake and wafers (chips) and Rasna. 
But Baba cannot tolerate the idea of a cake with eggs. When ever I bake, he always asks, " kaccha anda ghatlis ka?" (did you add eggs?). My answer is mostly yes. Though that is changing now! More on that later.

So, about 6 years ago, when my parents were visiting me, my father celebrated is birthday with us. I decided to bake a cake. An egg less one. This was an intimidating task, for one, I was scared ----less where baking was concerned and two, I was a new mother, my little S was about 2 weeks old. 
To cut a long story short, I made a Rava Cake, which at that time, seemed like a good (and the only idea). I made the cake, he cut the cake, we all ate the cake. We declared it 'baked Sheera' and that was it! I shoved the idea of egg less cakes in the deepest recesses of my mind and kept them locked.
Years later, a few weeks ago, in fact, a friend e-mailed me and we discussed some menu items for some guests she had invited. We mailed back and forth and she mentioned that she was making Basbousa for dessert. 
I could not help but laugh and think of my desperate attempt at making a cake for my dad and ending up with a pan of 'baked sheera'.
But Basbousa sounded so unlike baked sheera and was definitely on my 'must try' list.  

I made this for a small potluck we Bus Stop Moms had planned and it was very well received! I have this picture only because I saved a piece for M.

Source: here

1.5  Cup Semolina ( I used the regular coarse Sooji, next time I will use the Fine variety)
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup  Sugar
1 tsp. Baking pwd
3/4 Cup Oil ( I used Canola)
1/2 Cup Milk ( I used Whole milk)

1 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 Wedge lemon

Heat water in a pot and add sugar, dissolve to mix squeeze lemon. 

Once it boils, turn down heat to low and simmer for 15 min. Remove from the heat and cool syrup.

Drop almonds in hot water to blanch and remove the skin, set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Lightly grease a 9" pan, keep aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add dry ingredients- semolina, flour, baking powder and mix well, then add sugar, stir to combine- add oil and milk- mix until smooth

Pour into greased pan and tap gently on the counter top to make it smooth.

Carefully, score the batter in the pan (make square or diamonds) place a blanched almond on each square

Bake at 350 F  for about 30 mins until edges are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and once again, run a knife thru the already scored batter marks

Cut right thru with a sharp serrated knife and bake again for about 15 mins

Remove the basbousa from the oven and pour the syrup evenly on the top to cover it completely.(You should have about 3/4 cup of thick syrup)

Let the syrup soak in and  then cut the squares and serve! 

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  1. Basbousa is always in my favorite list..even one piece treats virtually. .yum

  2. Why the scoring before the baking???? I will surely try this recipe, have about 1/2 cup of syrup leftover from gulab jamun can.
    Love Ash.

    1. Ash, the semolina and APF make it crunchy during baking, scoring allows you to cut thru without too many crumbs. The scoring helps when cutting and adding syrup. hope this helps.

  3. That slice is just torturing me, such a beautiful cake..I can have some rite now.

  4. Simply amazing and delicious looking cake. Wonderfully prepared.

  5. I love Basbousa, have had it a couple of times..love it each time !

    Baked sheera sounds delicious too ;) Am sure your Dad must have enjoyed your desperate attempts to get him something sweet but healthier :)

  6. beautifully made basbousa.. amazing preparation! :)

  7. Completely yum recipe....cake looks so soft and moist....


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