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Simple Basbousa is an easy version of this beloved Levantine sweet treat. This recipe requires no special equipment and because no eggs are called for, it can easily be veganized.
There are many versions of this delightful dessert, including one on my blog with pistachios and coconut. However, all of the recipes for basbousa utilize semolina and a sugar syrup. This means that the cake flavors intensify over time and remains incredibly moist even after several days. Because the Simple Basbousa is dense and sweet from the sugar syrup, a little goes a long way. But it is the perfect complement to well-spiced foods and strong coffee fragrant with cardamom.
I did make a few tweaks to the original recipe, but the changes do not make this Simple Basbousa any more complicated. Generally baked in a rectangular pan. I made mine in a 10-inch square pan because that was what I had on hand.
For Americans who are unfamiliar with basbousa, this Simple Basbousa version reminded both me and my husband of a moist cornbread with honey. Nothing fancy to see here. Just a delicious, simple cake. And in the summer, who wants to slave over dessert?
For more delicious semolina cakes:
Yield: 25 squares
For the cake
2 cups of coarse semolina (My so-called coarse semolina proved to be only slightly less refined than my fine semolina, so don’t fret if you can’t find both.)
1/4 cup of fine semolina
1 cup of plain whole milk natural yogurt OR plant-based such as coconut
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup of unsalted butter or a plant-based vegan “butter,” melted
1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon each of pure almond and vanilla extract
25 whole blanched almonds
For the syrup
2 cups of granulated sugar
2 cups of water
4 to 5 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon of orange blossom or rose water (I used orange blossom as my husband is not a fan of rose water)
For the cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix together the sugar and melted butter. Then add the yogurt and mix until smooth and well combined.
Combine the semolina, salt and baking soda and then add to the yogurt mixture. Stir well. The mixture will be fairly thick.
Place the batter into a greased pan (9 X 12 or 10 X 10). Smooth out the mixture using the back of a spoon or an off-set spatula. Score the basbousa with a knife into the squares that you see above.
Add an almond to the center of each square, pressing down gently into the batter.
Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown. Ovens vary so it may take longer or shorter.
Meanwhile, make the syrup. Bring the water, sugar and cardamom pods to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 8 to 10 minutes. Then remove the syrup from the heat, discard the cardamom pods and mix through the orange blossom or rose water.
As soon as the basbousa comes out of the oven, pour the syrup gradually over the top. It will be absorbed almost immediately. Allow the basbousa to cool and then cut through the score lines and enjoy!