A sweet Arab cake made with semolina and soaked in a rose water and lemon syrup is easy to make and such a lovely treat to share with others.

This recipe by Amira Georgy was published in the SBS Food Safari cookbook.

I changed the recipe slightly and substituted caster sugar for coconut sugar, which resulted in a much crunchier, caramelised cake. Then I simmered honey with rose water and lemon juice to make a syrup before cooling and pouring over the top of the hot cake.

Rachael Hakim_basbousa cake in tray



  • 2 ½ cups coarse semolina
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup caster sugar (or substitute with ¾ cup coconut sugar)
  • ½ cup self-raising flour
  • 200g thick yoghurt
  • 200g butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 25-30 blanched almonds


  • 1 ½ cups sugar (or 1 cup of honey)
  • 250 ml water (if using honey, omit the water)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of rosewater


Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Mix the semolina, coconut, sugar, flour, yoghurt, melted butter and vanilla in a bowl. It should be a fairly stiff mixture.

Spread the mixture with your hands in a buttered 30 x 25 x 5 cm baking tray, then rest the mixture in the fridge for half an hour to firm up.

Cut into diamond shapes, pressing hard. Place an almond in the centre of each diamond.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

While the cake is baking make the syrup.

In a medium saucepan, place the honey, lemon juice and rosewater and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 3 minutes then remove from the heat and allow to cool.

When the cake is baked pour the syrup all over the hot cake. Cool to serve.

Rachael Hakim_basbousa cake in tray with childs hand taking a piece

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s