Basbousa

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

Ingredients

Cake

  • 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

Syrup

  • 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

Method

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

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Hungarian Apple Pie

We once had an apple tree and beneath it we grew veggies on one side and on the other side we played, read and picnicked together. It became a special tree for us because we spent so much time beneath it. When it was fruiting and it became something else. A tree for climbing, sitting in and picking from. Our then four year old found the perfect spot between the branches to sit and enjoy eating an apple or two while her little brother enjoyed taking bites out of every apple we had picked. The nibbled apples are ideal, then, for an apple pie. Andrea Jacob’s recipe for Hungarian Apple Pie, rich with happy childhood memories of being in her grandmother’s garden can be found in Mulberry Magazine’s annual print edition 2016.

Coloured Plates_slice of apple pie on plate next to pie

Ingredients

Dough

  • 30g sugar
  • 200g butter
  • 370g plain four
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling

  • 5 grated apples
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • juice of 1 lemon

Method

Combine all ingredients to make the dough in a food processor until well combined. I needed to add a little water to bring the dough together. Put in an air-tight container and leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Grate the apple in a food processor or by hand with or without the skin. I left the skin on and grated it finely in the food processor. Actually my then 4yo put the apple in the shoot of the processor and grated it.

Add the grated apple into a large saucepan with spices and lemon juice and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour the apple mixture into a colander to let the liquid drain (keep the liquid to drink or add to a smoothie later).

Preheat the oven to 180℃. Line a pie dish or baking tray with baking paper.

Remove the dough from the fridge and cut into two equal portions. Roll out one portion for the bottom of the pie and place it into a pie dish or baking tray.

Spoon the strained apple mixture onto the bottom layer of the pie and spread it out evenly.

Roll out the second half of the dough and place it on top of the apples, pinching the edges together gently. Using a fork, prick holes in the top layer to allow the heat to escape while it’s coking.

Brush a little bit of water on top and sprinkle with some sugar or a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.

Place it into the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden.

Let the pie cool in the tray or on a cooling rack. Once cool cut into squares and enjoy with cream, yoghurt or coconut cream.

Power bliss balls

A golden walnut encased in a sweet date puree and rolled in sesame seeds is a traditional bite-size sweet made by the Indigenous people of the Mesopotamia region in the Middle East.

To the south east of the region my husband’s mother warms the puree in butter before shaping them into little morsels and rolling in sesame seeds.

The humble, but always delicious and nutritious date ball has evolved over time with all kinds of combinations of dried fruit, nuts and seeds thrown into the mix.

Sometimes known as health balls, bliss balls, energy bites or marathon balls, we have named ours Power bliss balls because of the big flavours of roasted nuts, toasted seeds and buttery fruit puree.

Coloured Plates_fruit nut seed bliss balls

Coloured Plates_girl cooking rolling balls

Create your own combination of nuts, seeds, fruits and flavours or follow our energy packed recipe below.

Power bliss balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of nuts – we used half almonds, half hazelnuts
  • 5 tablespoons of seeds – we used seasame and sunflower
  • 2 cups of dried fruit – we used 1 cup of dates and 1 cup mixed dried figs and apricots
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon
  • pinch of salt

Method

Preheat oven to 180℃.

Place the nuts on their own tray and roast for about 10-15 minutes. The hazelnut skins should start to peel back and the lovely smell of roasted nuts will fill your kitchen.

Remove nuts from the oven and place the hazelnuts in the middle of a clean tea towel. Wrap the hazelnuts up and rub them around inside the tea towel until most of their skins come off.

Pick out the hazelnuts and place them with the almonds in a food processor. Whizz them into a coarse crumble and tip them into a bowl.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and toast the seeds for about 1 mixture or until they smell toasty and start to turn golden. Add the seeds to the nuts in the food processor.

In the same frying pan melt butter, add the fruit and warm through until softened a little.

Put the warm buttery fruit into the food processor with the nuts, seeds, cocoa, coconut, cardamon and salt. Blend them together until combined.

Roll the mixture into balls – as small or as large as you like. Roll them in coconut or crushed nuts or more sesame seeds if you like.

Enjoy them at room temperature or refrigerate until you’re ready to eat.

Store them in an air tight container either in the fridge or pantry – their high natural sugar content will preserve them.

Blissful eating!

Lime Sesame Seed Slice

Like a cheesecake this slice is creamy and tangy, nutty and sweet. Use the nuts you like to eat and substitute lime for lemon or another flavour you like. I happened to invent this particular slice while I was trying to make a Lemon Poppy Seed Slice by Audrey Snowe, the blogger behind Unconventional Baker. I used ingredients I had at hand that I knew would taste great together (Hello honey, sesame and lime!) and, using my eyes, hands and brain, added more of this and less of that to get the desired consistency right. And the lucky result is this Lime Sesame Seed Slice.  Of course any dessert you freeze is going to be pretty forgiving, so give it a try yourself.

Coloured Plates_lime seasame slice portrait

Ingredients

Base

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 6 soft dates (soak in some hot water if you need to soften them)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ cup white sesame seeds
  • pinch of salt

Filling

  • 1 cup of cashew nuts, pre-soaked and drained
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • zest of 1-2 limes
  • 6 tablespoons of lime juice (fresh is best but I used the bottled lime concentrate)
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-6 drops of natural green food colouring (keep adding until the desired colour is achieved)
  • pinch of salt.

Method

Soak cashew nuts in a large bowl covered with water either the day before or for a few hours before hand. This helps to soften the nut and blend into a smooth paste for the filling.

In a food processor blend almonds, dates, honey, coconut oil, sesame seeds and salt until a sticky crumble is made. Add more nuts if too sticky and add more dates or honey if not sticky enough.   Taste it! If it tastes good so will the slice.

Coloured Plates_lime seasame slice process

Line a small shallow tray (about 30cm x 20cm) with baking paper. Place the sticky nut mixture in the tray and spread it out, pushing it down with the bottom of a glass until it forms an even crust. Place it in the freezer until the filling is ready.

In the food processor place the strained cashew nuts, honey, zest, lime juice, coconut oil, vanilla and salt and blend until a smooth creamy mixture is achieved. Taste this too!

Slowly add a few drops of colouring, blending well between until a nice lime colour is achieved.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crust pan and smooth out with a spatula. Place in the freezer for at least 6 hours until frozen.

Slice and serve when ready. This will thaw quite quickly once out of the freezer, so enjoy it quite frozen or at room temperature when it is soft and creamy.

Optional topping: sprinkle fresh or toasted shredded coconut on top of the filling before freezing.