Pieces of basbousa stacked on top on one another.

Basbousa (Sephardic semolina cake)

Serves 12

Ingredients

Cake

250g semolina 
100g caster sugar 
250g low fat natural yoghurt 
120ml vegetable oil 
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut 
2 teaspoons grated orange zest (optional) 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional) 
About 6 whole almonds, split in half (optional garnish)

Syrup

50ml water 
50g caster sugar 
1 teaspoon honey (optional)  
1/2 lemon, juiced (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease or line a 20x30cm (9x13 inch) baking dish.

In a medium bowl, mix together the semolina, sugar (100g), yoghurt, oil, coconut, orange zest, almond extract and baking powder. Set aside for 30 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, stir together the water, sugar (50g), honey and lemon juice. Simmer on a medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set the syrup mixture aside to cool to room temperature.

Spread the semolina batter into the bottom of the greased baking dish. 

Score the batter with a sharp knife, dividing it into squares or diamond-shaped portions, then place an almond half in the centre of each portion.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Insert a skewer into the centre of the cake; if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked through.

Once cooked, remove cake from the oven and, while still warm, pour the cooled syrup over the cake (making sure to distribute the syrup evenly). 

Best served warm.

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