Basbousa (Semolina Cake)

Here’s my hand at basbousa. Definitely the home-baked version, but delicious nonetheless!

I’m really a baker when it comes to the kitchen, so getting out the old mixing bowl feels like coming home. Today I decided to turn our rainy Midwestern day into a bit of sunshine with this delicious treat, basbousa.

Basbousa is a syrupy semolina cake.

It’s beautiful, simple, and sweet. Everything one could ask for in a dessert that pairs well with, you guessed it, strong coffee.

There’s really two steps to making the cake.

Step #1: Make the cake.

Step #2: Make the syrup to pour over the baked cake.

Of course, there is also Step #3 (my favorite part), which involves eating!


*adapted from The Tasting Table:


For the cake:

  • 2 cups fine semolina
  • 2 cups dried coconut
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Sugar Syrup:

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

For Serving:

  • Sliced almonds
  • Coconut flakes


  1. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. In a bowl, combine all of the cake ingredients into a thick batter and press into either a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or a 10-inch springform pan that’s been greased and lined with parchment. *The batter is very cookie-like, and will not pour into the pan, but needs to be pressed in.
  2. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the center is set. Turn the oven to broil for 3 to 4 minutes to brown the top of the cake. Let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water over high heat; boil until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon juice and allow the syrup to cool slightly before slowly pouring the syrup over the cake until it’s completely absorbed. Top with nuts and coconut flakes.

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