Who’s feeling festive today? Now, don’t let the beauty of this popular classic Middle Eastern cake fool you. It’s actually super easy to make. What if I told you it’s a one bowl “dump” cake kinda recipe?
You know that’s my favorite type of recipe. You basically pour all the ingredients (both dry and wet) into a bowl and stir with a spoon, pour into baking dish and that’s basically it.
There’s also the syrup. It’s a combination of water and sugar which is boiled for 10 mins then poured on the cake once it’s baked. The result.. Delicious moist and flavorful bars of gold.
I’ve made cake at least a 100 times over the years and to be quite honest there’s no perfect way of making it. This cake is very popular all over the Middle East and every country makes it slightly different. For example, In Syria and Palestine they make the recipe with yogurt and coconut while in Egypt it’s called Haressa and only water is used. Some other places around the Mid-East also add eggs to make it more of a cake rather than bars.
I make it I make a few changes and try different this but this is my favorite way of making it. I use yogurt or sour cream because it give the cake a creamy flavor that’s irresistible.
- 2 cups coarse semolina
- 1 cup coconut
- 1/2 cup butter melted (aka 1 stick)
- 1 ⁄3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup plain yogurt or Sour Cream
- 1 ⁄3 cup whole Roasted or blanched almonds to garnish or 1/3 pistachios or cashews
- For The Syrup
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon rosewater not rose extract, OPTIONAL
- 1 teaspoons lemon juice
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 9x9 or 8x8 square pan or a 9'' round pie dish with butter or olive oil and set aside.
- Mix the semolina, coconut, sugar, baking soda, and the butter in a large bowl. Use your hands to incorporate the butter with the other ingredients until mixed well. Add the yogurt and continue mixing with your hands until fully combined.The mixture should be fairly thick and easy to press with hands (not thin like cake or brownie batter)
press the mix down onto square baking dish or round pie pan.The cake mix should be about 1 inch thick.Cut a diamond or square design in the cake with a butter knife. Place an almond or any other type of nut you have on hand onto each pre-cut square.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 30 min to 40 mins until it's a bronze brown color. If no color forms on the top turn on broiler for 1-2 minutes until the top is golden/bronze. Cut the Cake again along the pre-cut lines and pour cold syrup on top while its hot so it can absorb all through.
FOR THE SYRUP:
- While the cake is baking, Mix all the ingredients for the syrup and place in saucepan on high until it boils. Boil for 10 minutes or until the syrup coats the back of a spoon.
I used the recipe four times without the baking soda, it came out very good , a little compressed but I liked it. The hand incorporation and rubbing all ingredients together worked beautifully compared to my previous attempts mixing using a whisker which created a rock style of basbousa because the whisker released lost of gluten. so yesterday I decided to add the baking soda and that unfortunately made it fluffy and after adding the syrup it came out saggy more like a regular cake soaked in honey not to mention the taste is quite different now that the baking soda is incorporated. I think a full TSP is quit a lot for two cubs of semolina, I think it should be 1/2 TSP but will have to try and see how it looks and taste. I guess I got used to the good taste of the four basbousas I made before without it and now I can taste the baking soda. not sure if B soda is added to the egyptian style of harisa or basbousa. by the way in alexandria it is called harisa which is slightly thicker than that of else where and we d’ont add coconut, coconut harisa is called Basima which is almost totally made out of coconut.
on another note which you may to try it, I toasted half a cub of hazel nuts, coarsely ground and added to the mix after the application of the yogurt and that added a wonderful taste to the basbousa, mind you the first four, better than distributing almonds at the top, when all incorporated it taste wonderful but again the B soda ruined the last one I made could not even taste the nuts.
Should we use sweetened or unsweetened coconut?
Mariam Abusrea says
this the besttttt foooood i ever had made yea u should try that with yogurt yea its the best food its from egypt and i am from egypt
Wow so happy you loved the basbousa, Mariam!
I used a 8×8 pan size, it came out thicker than I desired about 1 3/4” thick. I prefer it at about 1” thick, what size pan would yield 1” based on these qualities? I love it by the way, really good!!!
I would try a 9×13 pan.
What kind of coconut do u use? Flaked, shredded, sweetened, unsweetened?
You can use flaked or shredded and both sweetened and unsweetened work great!
Jess T says
I just came across this recipe & would love to try it! I have everything except I am out of semolina… Can you substitute farina? If so, what is the ratio of semolina to farina? Thank you so much for posting!
Yes, you can absolutely substitute farina with a 1:1 ratio 🙂
Yasmin Udawala says
can one do in cupcake mold? great recipe
Yes, just be sure to keep an eye on the baking time!
This basbousa/namoura was very good, however, I would add less baking soda as I could taste it. Or perhaps I could substitute for baking powder. I added some cardamom for flavor and did not add all of the sugar syrup as it would have been too sweet. It was still plenty sweet.
Khadijat muhammad says
Can i use baking powder instead of baking soda
Hello, I’ve been reading up on this cake and I can’t wait to try your recipe. Do I use desiccated coconut or fresh coconut?
You can use either or! The desiccated coconut is more traditional but the bagged coconut you find it most supermarkets works great too.
Jarkko Laine says
How much of sugar syrup should be left after boiling(in milliliters)?
Can you also use orange flower water instead of rose?
I eye boil the syrup and it should just be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Yes, you can sub with orange flower.
Hi! If I wanted it to be more cakey, can I just add one egg to this recipe or would that not work?
I am not a baker but I cook .Tried this for the first time, used non fat Greek yogurt and instead of the sugar syrup I used 2/3 cup of organic Agave syrup as it has low glycemic index than Regular can sugar and added to it the juice of one lemon. It came out wonderful, far beyond my expectations . It was not too sweet which we loved and was so crunchy on the out side. Gave some to our neighbors and they loved it and will be making it soon. Thanks so much
i cut some sugar and instead drizzled honey on top. it was a bit dry the first time i made it with yougert and buttermilk so i will use more next time..tasty treat.
Can I exclude the coconut and try this recipe?
Yes, it will work without the coconut!
IF U CANT FIND SEMOLINA,THEN LOOK IN FOR PORRIDGE THAT SAY “CREAM OF WHEAT”….CREAM OF WHEAT IS ANOTHER NAME FOR SEMOLINA…
*ALSO U CAN ADD 1/4 TEASPOON OF CARDAMOM POWDER TO THIS,ADDS LOVELY FLAVOUR TO IT
Wooww…I don’t have oven. Any way to make it in non-stick fry pan? I want to make it now
I haven’t tried these on the stove-top but if you do, I’d suggest cutting the recipe in half and cooking it on super low heat!
Perfect recipe, exactly the same as the recipe my aunt makes and I remember since my childhood. Only thing for authenticity I know in the levant you must « grease » the man with tahini which adds a wonderfully rich r’nitty touch to the crusted bottom. Thank you this is the best and most authentic recipe I have found online, as you said this is a super easy cake avec your recipe preserves that quality perfectly 🙂
We Europeans should be very thankful for alternative metric weights and measurements!
Hi, can i use ghee instead of butter? If yes, how much ghee?
Yes, replace with a 1:1 ratio.
Can we use baking powder instead of baking soda?
Yes, that should be fine!
CONCETTA SEBLANO says
i purchased greek yogurt, is that ok to use?
also purchased fine semolina (Bob’s Red mill)
i will try to find the course one
making it tonight
Yes, Greek yogurt is perfect! Fine semolina should be fine as well but the course will make a crumbly texture.
is it 1 1/3 cups sugar in the cake or just 1/3 of a cup in The cake?
just 1/3 bc you gonna add the syrup
Swati Pithwa says
Im trying your recipe now but i dont UNDERSTAND the sugar. How much i have to put?
There is 1/3 cup of sugar in the cake and 2 cups in the syrup.
Hi Layla thanks for sharing this recipes😋
I made this today for the first time and I was very pleased with the results.
One thing I would like to ask is can you add extra syrup if you like it more moist because it got absorbed to much from the cake that looks a bit dry
How thick is the syrup supposed to get? i had my syrup mixture on heat for about 20 minutes and it still never got thick enough to really coat the back of a spoon. I had it on high, and it was boiling for 10-15 minutes, but it felt pretty thin to me still. any suggestions?
It’s okay if the syrup does not coat the back of the spoon. It should thicken as it cools.
Great recipe …..will it still work if replace the semolina with cornmeal to make it gluten free?
Made this today, DELICIOUS recipe, I used olive oil instead of butter and we had it Without the syrup, I normally make basboosa using eggs but thought I’d try this recipe and it’s perfect. Thanks.
Tried it and they LOVEd IT..Thanks
This shouldhave said to make the syrUp first so it coUld be cooling while the caKe bakes. Now i have a cae that is going to be done in 8 minute and my syrup has just now started to boil.
The syrup instructions are to begin making the syrup while the cake is baking. The Basbousa takes about 30-40 minutes to bake and the syrup takes about 10 minutes so there should be plenty of time for the syrup to cook while the basbousa is baking.
awesome recipe. I made it for the first time and everyone from children to grandparents loved it. I used room temperature butter instead of melting it. Thanks so much Layla for sharing
In india we use semolina to make a Dessert called halwa, which is essEntially a soft pudding…a while ago, basbousa caught my eye as tHe brown crust made me believe that it was going to be crisp at the top and fluffy beneath… your recipe Exceeded my expectations and i couldnt stop myself from devouring it as soon as the syrup was soaked in… the only thing i did was that as i didnt have rose water, i used dried rose petals whIle making the syrup and it Still came out well!!
‘1 Stick 1⁄2 cup unsweetened butter, melted’ – what exactly does it mean ?is it half cup or 1 stick. and what is one stick ? thank you for help
Ana, it’s 1 stick (also known as 1/2 cup) I’ve changed it in the post!
Could i use buttermilk IN place of yougurt?
Yes you can!
which taste better, sour cream or plain yogurt???
I personally enjoy sour-cream or a mixture of both yogurt and sour-cream!
Sarah Reed says
Can you use farina, instead of semolina? And if so, would the amount still be the same? (sorry all in caps, that’s all that the website allowed me to use)
Yes, you can. Use the same amount as the semolina.
I made this today for my husband’s bd/ basboosa is his childhood favorite. He is from Egypt and he thought it was very good!
I followed the recipe for all except the syrup I used 1-1/4 c sugar to 1-1/2 c water and added orange extract and vanilla.
I only had fine semolina, but it worked.
It absorbed the syrup very quickly and after we let it sit a few hours I will see if a little more syrup is needed or not.
Great recipe! Does thiS it need to be stored in the fridge or can it sit out at room temerature? And if so, how long can it sit out? Thanks so much!
Cover and store in the refrigerator so it will last longer. Cut and wrap in foil and reheat in toaster oven for few minutes.
Excellent recipe, it’s really close to my mother’s basbousa. She comes from a village near Lattakia (don’t listen to the person saying that Syrians don’t call it basbousa). I’ve made this recipe a couple times now. The syrup is different from my mother’s though, so I adjusted it to fit our tastes: 3/4 tsp rose water and 2 tsp lemon juice.
Here are some substitutions I tried and which work pretty well: I replaced the wheat semolina with corn semolina (10 oz) for someone with celiac disease (tasted a bit like corn flakes but was still very good), and I replaced the butter with 1/3 cup coconut oil and the yogurt with store-bought coconut yogurt for Lent, which was almost better than with dairy in my opinion.
Also we’ve always made basbousa in 9×13 dishes at my house, so I make 1.5 times this recipe and it fits it perfectly. Our dish is Pyrex, though, and since it conducts and retains heat more, it’s recommended to lower the oven by 25°F. So I cook it at 375°F and it’s ready in a very normal 35 minutes.
It’s also a great recipe for parties if you cut the 9×9 basbusa in 36 squares and add an almond to each.
Wow, thank you so much for all the excellent tips, Elias! I will be sure to make the suggested substitutions next time I make it. I’m so glad this recipe is close to your mother’s recipe. I’m sure the basbousa is Syria is 1000x better than we can ever make it but we’re trying to re-create them because mom’s recipes are always best <3 <3 <3
I looked at all the recipies , this one is the best I have increased the yogurt to 1/2 a cup
Great idea! Thanks for the review 🙂
Thanks for sharing, it’s so delicious!
Thanks for the feedback! <3
I think it tastes better without the coconut flakes. With coconut it becomes a bit chewy and coconut does not add much to the taste either.
I also increased the amount of yogurt to one and a half cup which made it softer.
With coconut it’s either you love it or hate it and I happen to be a big lover of coconut. I’m glad you were still able to modify the recipe and enjoy it! 🙂
I am diabetic, and the nurse encourages us to use coconut. Low sugar, high fiber, low carb !
I haven’t made this yet but I was wondering….what kind of coconut, flaked, unsweetened shredded, coconut flour, sweetened shredded coconut???
Shredded coconut, sweetened or un-sweetened will work!
This is soo delicious and so simple to make it’s almost unbelievable.
Thank you so much for sharing this!
I’m so happy you enjoyed it. Salam!
Excellent recipe! this is the most authentic Egyptian basboosa recipe I found. It tastes just like the basboosa I tried when I was vacationing in Egypt. Thank you for posting it!
I just made it and came so good! I think the day after will be better because flavors mingle among them. I have to wait till tomorrow. Thanks for the recipe!!!!
In your instructions you do not mention what to do with the coconuts!
Mix it with the semolina
In your instructions you do not say what to do with the coconuts!
Salwa Beheiry says
Hi! I am Egyptian from Alexandria and grew up calling this dessert “Hareessa or Harissa”. When I went to study at Cairo University I was my first time for me to hear people calling this Basboussa. So who knows what is called where! It is definitely so good and so easy to prepare.
Thank you for sharing
Hope you enjoy it!
PS Fam says
You have things reversed in your description. In Egypt it is not called haressa, it’s basbousa, in Syria and Palestine it’s Haressa (in lebanon its namoura). Also we make it with yougurt and coconut, though this tends to be optional. It is some times made with water or juice and oil instead of butter to make it vegan,because Copts (native egyptian Orthodox Christians) eat no animal products during periods of fasting such as Lent.
Thanks for your input! I’ve never heard it called Basbousa in Egypt but it may vary based on location.
Mike Michaels says
My dear it’s only called basbousa in Egypt! Other countries call it different things, but in Egypt basboussa is basboussa! Falafel is called falafel in Alexandria but ta’meya everywhere else in Egypt, the recipe is also different in Egypt than in any other Middle Eastern Country, and it’s 10 times better!! Back to basboussa, it should never have to be browned by use of the broiler. As a matter of fact the best way of telling that it’s done is to observe the colour of the top, when it’s a rich gold it’s time to take it out of the oven. And ALWAYS smear the baking dish (oblong pyrex) with pure tahina, straight out of the jar (not made up with lemon juice etc.) And one last thing… that syrup should be really cold (out of the fridge, not just room temperature) AND let the basboussa stand for an hour before baking it. Good cooking!
What kind of semolina? There’s different grinds, from fine to coarse. Thanks!
I’m so glad you pointed that out, Mais! I will add it to the recipe now. I use the coarse #2 Semolina. The Finer semolina does not work well with this dessert!!
Medha @ Whisk & Shout says
This looks so delicious and the yogurt adds so much moisture to the cake 🙂