One of my most enduring memories growing up was eating hot semolina with honey on cold mornings before school with a lit candle on the table.  My mum used to make it almost every day in the winter and now eating semolina takes me right back there.  This recipe uses the semolina in a cake, another big hit from my childhood.

This cake is the closest thing to a cool old fashioned British pudding to my mind- dense, delicious and warming.



for the cake

250ml sour cream

250ml natural yoghurt

180g butter, melted

400g semolina

100g desiccated coconut

95g sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

¼ bicarbonate of soda

2 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp tahini


For the syrup

1 cup of water

2 cups of sugar

1 tbsp orange blossom water


Chopped pistachios and rose petals to decorate



make the sugar syrup by adding all the ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil, reducing to simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

preheat the oven to 175C

mix the soured cream, yoghurt and baking powder together thoroughly and leave for a few minutes to rise

in a separate bowl mix together the semolina, butter, coconut, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and vanilla extract.  When thoroughly combined add the yoghurt mixture and mix thoroughly.

Spread the tahini on the base of the cake tin, then pour in the semolina mixture (which will be more like a dough than a batter) and using your hands press it into the tin evenly.

Score the basboosa into the shapes you want it cut into; squares, or diamonds or something more elaborate.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. The top will be golden with a slight crisp to it.

Once removed from the oven, immediately pour the cool sugar syrup over the hot cake and let it absorb in.  decorate with the pistachio and rose and serve with strong coffee.

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