Sticky Semolina Cake

By 10 comments


Feast: Food That Celebrates Life

Recently I have joined a Cookbook Club. The idea is to cook a recipe from chosen cookbooks by the librarian. We then shared our dishes and discussed / reviewed the cookbook. I chose this cake since it was well written by the author and easy to make. 

This Middle-Eastern inspired cake is from Nigella Lawson‘s cookbook titled “Feast: Food That Celebrates Life”.

Sticky Semolina Cake is nothing other than Basbousa, a age old Mediterranean dessert!

This cake tastes divine and like many other cake recipes from Nigella, this is also incredibly easy to make; everything is done in a food processor. I love the gritty texture of the cake provided by the semolina in place of flour.

The reason why this cake is so moist is because the cake was drenched with fragrant sugar syrup after baking. I would suggest making the syrup in advance though so that it has time to chill in the fridge.

The fragrant syrup is flavoured with rosewater and orange-flower water. Rosewater is not for everyone. I adore the scent of rosewater and its soft, sweet flavour. Use it sparingly, no more than a teaspoon here. If you add too much of it, it will over power the taste and feels like eating toiletry products (not nice) or your grandmother’s potpourri bowl (also not very nice). However, if you can’t stand it, just miss it out completely.

Sticky Semolina Cake Recipe
Makes 36

For the syrup
2 cups superfine sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater or 2 drops rose essence
1 teaspoon orange-flower water (optional)

For the cake
2 cups semolina
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 stick butter plus 1 tablespoon for greasing pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1/2 cup Greek plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
36 whole blanched almonds

1 9 inch Square Pan

To make the syrup, dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat then add the lemon juice. Turn up the heat and boil the syrup fiercely for 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, add the rosewater and the orange-flower water, then pour the syrup into a jug to cool. Put the syrup in the fridge to chill down further.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter a 9 inch square baking pan. Put all the cake ingredients, except the whole almonds in a food processor and process until you have a smooth batter. Pour into the cake tin and spread evenly.

Dot the top with almonds in 6 rows of 6, placed equally apart. I did not do this except at the very end of baking. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, by which time the cake will have risen and become golden. Test with a cake tester to check its not doughy underneath.

Pour the cold syrup over the hot cake and leave to cool completely in the pan. Cut into 36 little squares, or however you like.


Books available on Amazon Manna of the 21st Century: Parsi Cuisine Paperback Hardcover Indian Parsi Kitchen Celebrations: Celebrating Zoroastrian Festivals and Traditions Dhansak: Parsi Cuisine



Mar 3, 2019, 9:10 pm

I love everything about this cake! The crunch of the topping; the slurp of the syrup, and the hint of rosewater and orange-flower water! What a luxurious fork full of dessert! So refined, and yet oh so decadent! Thank-you so much for sharing this with us at Fiesta Friday! I, for one have bookmarked it and hope to make it very soon! Yum!


Mar 3, 2019, 4:58 am

Rita, this cake looks something I would enjoy with a cup of tea. I could imagine myself eating one bar one after the other. Thanks for sharing and happy Fiesta Friday!


Mar 3, 2019, 10:04 am

You are welcome! Hope your blog is doing well.


Mar 3, 2019, 10:06 am

Julianna, I am honored that you will make this. Pls do.
I love the cake and may I say it is really flavorful and something new.


Mar 3, 2019, 9:15 pm

I like this cake Rita. I enjoy cookbook clubs too.


Mar 3, 2019, 6:31 am

Thank you, Rita. My blog is going cray cray for the last two days. I had to try so many time to log in.

Angie | Fiesta Friday

Mar 3, 2019, 10:14 pm

I really like the sound of this cake, Rita!


Mar 3, 2019, 10:43 am

I love this cake and I would try with a different grain.


Apr 4, 2019, 11:27 am

This looks super delicious!

Freda @ Aromatic essence

Apr 4, 2019, 12:53 pm

I love semolina cake, yours looks absolutely delicious!

Ask Rita