EGYPT: Basbousa (Egyptian Semolina Cake)



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About this Recipe

By: Yesmina Salib

Basbousa is a very popular Egyptian dessert, a traditional Middle Eastern sweet cake. The cake is often cut into diamond or rectangle shapes, with almonds placed or scattered on top.

Yesmina is the Program Coordinator for JFCS refugee and immigrant support groups. Her dad’s side of the family is Egyptian. She says, “I grew up eating Basbousa at every holiday, family get-together, and celebration. As I have gotten older, I learned how to make Basbousa on my own and love sharing it with American friends and family.”


egypt on the map
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 3 cups farina (cream of wheat)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • about 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Basbousa is a dessert often found in religious celebrations in Egypt. Many Muslims make it for Eids or for Ramadan tables, and Christians often make it for their celebrations at the end of fasts, such as Great Lent and Nativity.

almonds placed on basbousa
coffee and basbousa


Step 1
Prepare the simple syrup first by dissolving the sugar in the water and lemon juice and simmering until it is thick enough to coat a spoon (about 7 minutes). Set aside and allow to cool.
Step 2
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients and beat well with a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed.
    Step 3
    Pour the mixture into large buttered oven dish or baking tray (9×13″). Flatten out as much as possible. Sprinkle and spread sliced almonds across the top of mixture.
      Step 4
      Bake at 350′ for about 1/2 hour, but check after 20 minutes to see if cooked enough. It should be crisp and rich golden color.
      Step 5
      Cut into squares or lozenge shapes as soon as it comes out of the oven and pour the room temperature syrup over the hot basbousa.
        Serve hot or cold. Goes well with homemade whipped cream and fresh berries.