Basbousa is a soft, somewhat crumbly cake traditionally made with semolina and, sometimes, coconut. The warm cake is soaked in sugar syrup flavored with orange flower water or rose water until it absorbs most of the liquid. Almonds or pistachios are the usual nuts used to garnish basbousa which is served cut into squares or diamonds. I found it best to leave the batter covered overnight as this allows the yogurt-butter mixture to soften the semolina grains before baking. The exact origin of basbousa remains subject to debate since cakes made out of semolina are popular in many countries of the Middle East. This recipe from Rathai’s Recipes does not claim to be authentic but I chose it for being eggless and without milk. It smells heavenly from the rose water and tastes even better after it has aged a couple of days.



For the Cake

2 cups (350 g) fine semolina

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup (35 g) desiccated coconut

1/2 cup (100 g) caster sugar

1/4 teaspoon kitchen salt

150 g unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup (200 g) plain yogurt

20-30 blanched almonds

For the Sugar Syrup

1 cup (225 g) caster sugar

1 1/2 tbs rose water

3 tsp lemon or lime juice

1 cup water


  • To blanch the almonds, boil the water until it is hot and bubbly. It will take about 7-8 minutes with the lid on.
  • Place the raw almonds in a small bowl and pour about half of the hot water over the almonds and put a lid on.

  • Allow the almonds to soak in the hot water for about 10 minutes. Take an almond out, rub it between fingers.
  • Start blanching almonds. Spread almonds on a dry towel and pat dry and keep them in the towel overnight.

  • The syrup has to be at room temperature and the cake warm; the syrup should be prepared before the cake.
  • To make the syrup, boil sugar along with the water at medium heat. Stir until sugar has completely dissolved.

  • Then add lemon juice and remove the scum that floats to the top. Add rosewater and boil till syrup thickens.
  • Do not let the syrup boil for a long time and thicken up too much. It should take about 15 minutes to be ready.

  • Once ready, remove from stove. Bring to room temperature. In a large bowl, mix semolina and baking soda.
  • Then add coconut, sugar and salt and mix well. Add the melted butter and yogurt and mix well with a spoon.

  • The mixture should be well combined and come together. Lightly butter a 27 cm/10″ cake pan or a pie plate.
  • Line with parchment paper and then lightly butter the sides and the bottom of the pan. Spoon in cake batter.

  • Even it out on top with a spoon. Allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes. Then score cake into diamonds or squares.
  • Place blanched almonds in the middle of each diamond or square and gently press each almond down a little.

  • Bake at 175 oC (350 oF) in a preheated oven, in the middle rack for about 20 minutes first. Take the cake out.
  • Gently cut into diamonds/squares again. If you cut the cake when it is fresh out of the oven, it might crumble.

  • Place cake back into the oven, bake for another 20-25 minutes until the cake looks golden and crisp on top.
  • Take the cake out and spread the syrup slowly and evenly on top of the cake. Allow cake to soak up the syrup.

  • Leave for a couple of hours until it has cooled down to room temperature or leave overnight then cut again.
  • Keep covered and refrigerated, and warm for few seconds in the microwave before serving. Makes 20 pieces.

Basbousa – Semolina Syrup Cake

For the month of September Meredith from the Poco Loco Olsons challenged us to experiment with soda bread. This quick bread relies on chemical reactions between baking soda and the acid in buttermilk (sour milk), so no yeast is allowed. Contrary to popular belief, soda bread was not invented by Irish bakers. In fact, food historians give credit of first using soda to leaven bread to the Native Americans, who used pearl ash to help their breads rise.

Traditionally, Irish soda bread can be white or brown, sometimes contains raisins, and often has a cross in the top of each loaf. White soda breads are often enjoyed at breakfast or to soak up stew at dinner. This recipe was taught to Meredith’s parents during their first trip to Ireland in 1985. It has since become a family favorite and never ceases to delight especially when eaten warm, smeared with freshly churned butter.



2½ cups (625 ml) sour milk or buttermilk

2 cups (500 ml) (300 gm) (10½ oz) whole wheat flour

4 cups (1000 ml) (600 gm) (21 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour

2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) baking soda

1 teaspoon (6 gm) salt


  • Preheat the oven to hot 450°F/230°C or gas mark 8 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • Mix the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.

  • Pour the sour milk/buttermilk into the well. Mix the dough until flour is completely incorporated.

  • It will be very stiff. Transfer dough to the prepared baking sheet. Pat the dough into a circle shape.

  • It should be approximately 1 inch/2½ cm thick. Now make several dimples in the top of the dough.

  • Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated hot oven and bake bread for 30 minutes.

  • Reduce heat to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6. Pull baking sheet out from under dough.

  • The parchment will be directly on the oven rack. Bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown.

Daring Bakers September 2015 Challenge

Gato dipain or dipain frire is a typical Mauritian snack that is almost invariably found at the stalls of those selling an assortment of fritters/ gato deluile. But has anyone among you ever tried to make this from scratch ? To all my friends currently residing overseas, here’s the recipe for gato dipain to quench any cravings you might be having away from our beloved motherland. A great way to use up bread that has gone stale in the bread bin for a day or two, these fritters can be made within minutes and are to be served hot along with condiments like coriander chutney or chili sauce.



baguette or pain viennois

1/2 cup chickpea flour/besan

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon orange food colour

1/2 teaspoon garlic/ginger paste

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups cold water

1 bunch spring onions, chopped

1 bunch coriander leaves, chopped

Vegetable oil, for deep frying


  • In a large bowl, combine chickpea flour, all purpose flour, baking soda and food colour.

  • Add the garlic, ginger, spring onions, coriander leaves, salt and pepper according to taste.

  • Gradually add water to form a thick batter. Cut the bread slices according to desired size.

  • Heat oil in a frying pan. Take one slice of bread, dip in the batter and place on frying pan.

  • Repeat the process for all the bread slices. Cook on medium heat, then flip to the other side.

  • Cook until both sides turn to a light brown color. Remove and drain on kitchen towel paper.

  • Serve the fritters hot with an assortment of coriander chutney, tomato chutney or chili sauce.

Gato Dipain

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