"Basboussa" (or "Basboosa", "Arissa", "Haressa") is a rich Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dessert cake made with semolina flour and drenched in a fragrant syrup...
This cake is supposed to originate from Egypt, but it is also well-spread and very popular amongst the Jewish and Arabic communities worldwide. The Jews know it under the name of "Tishpishti" and it is generally baked during the holidays or for special occasions: Rosh Hashanah or Passover (for Pesach, the semolina is replaced by Matzah meal). The Muslims eat this sweet pastry during the Ramadan. "Basboussa" can also be found in Algeria ("Kabel Louz"), Morocco ("Chamia"), Syria ("Namora/Namoura"), Lebanon ("Hrisseh/Nammoura"), Palestine ("Namoura"), Jordan ("Basboussa") Egypt ("Basboussa"), Turkey ("Revani"), Greece ("Revani"), Bulgaria ("Revani"), Cyprus ("Shammali") and many more place...
Sometimes, the syrup is made with honey instead of sugar, the flavorings (Orange Blossom Water, Rosewater, Lemon, Cinnamon, etc...) differ depending on the country where it is made and certain toppings can be added (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, etc...).
The version I am blogging about comes from my much beloved as well as used Joan Nathan cookbook "Jewish Cooking In America" and the recipe that she gives is of Egyptian Sepharadic origin.
This "Semolina Cake" is amazing both in taste and texture. It is wickidly sweet, tangy, delightfully moist, very delicately perfumed and exquisitely exotic. I love it!!! "Basboussa" is very delicious and comforting to please...
Makes about 24 squares.
2 Cups Cream of wheat
1 Tsp Baking powder
1 Cup Plain yoghurt
1/2 Cup Castor sugar
3 Tbs Unsalted butter, melted
1/4 Cup Bread crumbs
2 Dozen Blanched almonds
2 Cups Castor sugar
2 Cups water
1-1 1/2 Tbs Orange blossom water (see link)
1 Cup Whipped cream (optional)
1. Mix together the cream of wheat and the baking powder in a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the yoghurt, the sugar and the melted butter.
3. Add the yoghurt mixture to the cream of wheat and mix well.
4. Grease a 25cm (10 inches) round baking pan and dust with the bread crumbs.
5. Pour in the cake mixture and use your hands to pat it down into the pan.
6. Make a design of diamonds by scoring with a knife.
7. Place a blanched almond in each diamond.
8. Bake in a preheated oven at 180° C (350° F) for 30 to 45 minutes or until slightly brown on top.
9. Meanwhile, make the syrup by mixing the sugar and water together.
10. Bring to a boil in a saucepan and simmer until it forms a syrup and is sticky.
11. Add the orange blossom water.
12. As soon as the "Basboussa" comes out of the oven, pour the syrup over.
13. Let the cake stand until cool.
14. Cut slices following the diamond design and place the diamond-shaped pieces in paper cups.
15. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream (optional).
"Cream Of Wheat" is also called "Semolina Flour" or "Durum Wheat Semolina".
You can easily replace the yoghurt by the same quantity of sour cream.
Instead of using orange flower blossom water, try flavoring the syrup with rosewater, lemon rind or cinnamon (powder).
Serve with "Turkish Coffee" (see info) or mint tea (see recipe).
(Namoura -Pic by www.cedarsky.com)
(Aswan -Pic by Danos Kounenis www.trekearth.com)