Monday, 6 March 2017

Basbousa - a syrupy, semolina cake to do away the blues!

I looked out the window the other day and suddenly noticed pale pink blossoms on trees, as if by magic - heralding Spring! Spring usually means warmth, gentle breezes and a decent level of sunshine. Not in Britain. Our beloved Britain has always done things her own way and you’ll be lucky if you get a few days of Spring in Spring. Right now it’s gloomy and breezy and cold. And what does cold weather mean? Why, cups of hot tea of course – although my English teas have alternated lately with fragrant masala chai. That delicious concoction of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves – and lately I’ve taken to adding a good pinch of crushed black pepper which adds a lovely zing and makes your think of the warmer climes of India or Bangladesh. At least a Bollywood film!

And tea is so lonely without cake. Especially in the cold. Cake always makes everything better. Always. I can’t think of a single moment when I wasn’t swayed by a slice of delicious cake, even when in the worst mood. Basbousa however isn’t your average cake. It’s a deep, dense cake with its own unique personality and makes me think of sunshine and al things exotic. Nutty, slightly crumbly and syrupy with a hint of rosewater and cardamom. Make it one day and eat it over three or four as it keeps really well and. A small slice pairs perfectly with a hot beverage as a satisfying ending to a meal or a few slices for afternoon tea (make mine a plateful!).

Ingredients (makes around 24 pieces)
For the cake
300g coarse semolina
200g yoghurt  
50g medium dessicated coconut
150g granulated sugar   
25g ground almonds
200ml oil
1 tsp vanilla
100ml milk

For the syrup
150g golden syrup
2 cardamom pods
1 tbs rose water
200g sugar
150ml water

Preheat oven to 180c or 160 (fan) /gas mark 4

In a bowl mix all the ingredients together until well combined.

Grease a square baking dish (around 22 inches) and pour in the mixture.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden all over.

Meanwhile prepare the syrup by bringing the sugar and water to the boil with the cardamom and simmer on medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and you have a light syrup.

Stir in the golden syrup and rosewater and bring to the boil again. Turn off the heat.

While the cake is still warm cut into 24 diamond shapes or squares and pour the hot syrup evenly all over.

Let the cake rest at least 20 minutes so that all the syrup is absorbed. 

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