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)
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.
Brush a rectangle 20×30 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.