Thursday 10 February 2011

Semolina Cake with Date filling: Basbousa bil Tamr بسبوسة بالتمر

Basbousa is a traditional Arab semolina cake soaked in syrup and studded with almonds. There are many different ways to prepare basbousa according to region and country; this Libyan version includes coconuts in the cake mixture and date-paste sandwiched between two layers of semolina. It's an easily made dessert, and is perfect with Arabic cardamom coffee.
2 cups semolina
1 cup plain flour
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup sugar (you can reduce the amount to 1/2 cup if you want it less sweet) 
1 cup melted butter
1 cup milk
1tbspoon baking powder 
1 tbspoon cinnamon
500g date-paste cut into thin slices

1 cup blanched almonds

5 cups boiling water
3 cups sugar
2 tbspoon lemon juice
2 tbspoon thick honey (optional)

To Serve
Qashta Cream

Prepare the syrup, by adding all the ingredients together, bring to boil, cook on low heat until  reduced to half the amount. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. 

Mix all the liquid ingredients then add to the dry ingredients.

                                     Mix well

            Brush a rectangle 20x30 oven proof dish, and spread half the basbousa mix.

Arrange date paste slices on top carefully, then add the remaining basbousa mix and spread.

With a sharp knife mark 12 equal squares into the top layer of semolian, decorate each with halved almonds.

Bake in a preheated oven,  200°C degrees until golden in colour. Pass a knife over the squares again, deepening the lines. Add the the cold syrup while the basbousa is still warm. Leave to rest before cutting and serving. 

Serve warm or cold, with a spoonful of Qashta Cream.

16th Mediterranean cooking event - Libya - tobias cooks! - 10.01.2011-10.02.2011


  1. This is a new way to serve Basbousa but it looks nice . I like it very much .

  2. Thank you for commenting! Inshallah soon we'll make basbusa to celebrate the freedom of Libya :)

  3. I made it yesterday. It was great. My husband told me it was the first time to eat basbousa like this but he liked very much. Thanks and keep putting good receipts.

  4. Hi, thanks for this blog, with all the great recipes! I'm not Libyan but my husband is and since we are in Sweden, I really want to learn more about cooking Libyan food. Just one question, I assume "1 cup" is equal to about 2,5 deciliters or about 250 grams? /Thanks from Maria in Sweden

  5. Thanks Sofia and Maria, I'm so glad you like the blog. Yes, if each deciliter is 60 grams, 1 cup should be 2 deciliters.

  6. Love the taste of this dessert but had some trouble with the baking. Is it supposed to be baked at 200 centegrade or farenheit, and for approximately how long? Thanks, LOVE this blog!

  7. Glad to hear you aprove, libyanbychoice and thanks for pointing out the missing °C symbol.
    You want a top layer which is slightly crispy while the rest of the basbusa is softer, so take it out when the top is evenly browned. It takes about 20-30 minutes depending on the oven.

  8. I'm gonna make this tomorrow! I sooo ordered the Semolina online because it's sooo hard to find here! I went to Safeway, Walmart, and the organic market and didn't find it! Wops, if you don't live in the west coast you wont know these places! anyway, I'm excited to make this! Btw, i made kefta, dolma and mba6en (with Tabouli Salad) this Friday for if6ar and invited friends and they loved it. I took my mom's touched on the dish but this blog was so helpful since my mom wasn't picking up the phone and it's hard to get a hold of her for recipe questions.

    Keep up the good posts!