Basbousa (Egyptian Semolina Cake)

This cake is made with both semolina flour and shredded coconut, and soaked in a lemony rose water–infused syrup. The result is a rich and exotic treat.


  • Square Cake Pan
  • Parchment Paper


  • Semolina Cake
  • 2 cups (500 mL) semolina flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2mL) baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) plain Greek yogurt, divided
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 16 roasted skinned hazelnuts
  • Syrup
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) lemon juice
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) rose water



  1. Semolina Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line 9-inch (23 cm) square cake pan with enough parchment paper to overhang edges; set aside. 
  2. In bowl, whisk together semolina, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until blended. In separate large bowl, whisk together 1 cup (250 mL) yogurt, melted butter and vanilla; stir in semolina mixture just until combined. Scrape into prepared pan; smooth top. Let stand for 20 minutes. Score into 16 squares; arrange hazelnut in centre of each square.
  3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean when inserted into centre of cake. Let cool completely on rack.
  4. Syrup: In small saucepan, bring sugar and 1/2 cup (125 mL) water to boil; cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until thickened slightly. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice and rose water. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour hot syrup evenly over cooled cake. Let stand for at least 1 hour. Remove cake from pan using parchment paper handles. Slice cake along scored lines. Serve with dollops of remaining yogurt.



• Substitute orange blossom water or vanilla extract for rose water if desired.

• Substitute almonds or pistachios for hazelnuts if desired.