The BEST Coconut Basbousa (Semolina Cake)


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This Coconut Basbousa (بسبوسة)is an easy and delicious Middle Eastern dessert. Made with semolina and shredded coconut, this dessert has a sweet, nutty flavor to it. Topped with shredded coconut and almonds, this dessert is so flavorful!

Soft, moist, and super tasty, this Coconut Basbousa is a delightful bite-sized dessert that everyone will want a piece of! It’s super simple to make as everything is just mixed together before baking. You will need a simple syrup to top the cake with but not to worry, you can easily make that ahead of time.

Close up of Coconut Basbousa cut into slices.

If you’re making simple syrup from scratch for this basbousa recipe, then you’re likely to have some leftovers. So if you’d like to try more Lebanese dessert recipes that use simple syrup, here are a few that my family loves to make: Lebanese Shaabiyat Dessert, Lebanese Nights Dessert, and Atayef.

What is Basbousa?

Basbousa (or Basbuusa/Basboosa) is a popular Middle Eastern dessert. Some say it originated in Turkey, and is known as the Revani cake, during the time of the Ottoman Empire. The sweet diamond-shaped cake is traditionally made with semolina batter and then sweetened with sugar syrup after it’s been baked. 

Similar to Namoura from Lebanon, Basbousa contains the same base but made with one added ingredient: Shredded coconut. Many countries adapted the recipe and called it something else. There are many variations to this recipe but I only know the Basbousa (Egyptian version) and Namoura (Lebanese version) because I grew up eating them.

Why You’ll Love This Semolina Cake

  • They’re so delicious! There are rarely any leftovers when I bring this out. It disappears in a flash!
  • It’s super easy to make. No one wants to try to make a complicated dessert, especially if you’ve got a whole dinner to plan! You’ll love how easy it is to make from scratch.
  • It goes with everything! This sweet cake is a dessert that goes with pretty much any meal you have in mind.

What You’ll Need

Cake Batter

  • Coarse semolina 
  • Fine semolina
  • Granulated sugar
  • Finely shredded coconut — unsweetened
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Vegetable or canola oil
  • Yogurt — use whole fat for the best flavor
  • Orange blossoms water
Basbousa ingredients laid out

Everything else

  • Sliced almonds — peeled and halved
  • Tahini paste — for brushing the pan
  • Lebanese Simple Syrup — see my post here on how to prepare ahead

How To Make Coconut Basbousa

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Mix all the ingredients: Add all the cake batter ingredients to a stand mixer bowl and mix on slow speed until well combined.
Set of two photos showing batter for basbousa forming.
  • Prepare the pan: Brush a non stick 9 x 13 x 3 inch pan with tahini paste (both bottom and sides). Pour in the batter and spread the dough out evenly. Cover and let the batter rest for an hour.
Set of two photos showing how the Coconut Basbousa is cut before baking.
  • Cut out the Basbousa: Cut into squares or diamonds. Place a piece of half an almond on top of each piece.
  • Bake: Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until golden brown in color. You can turn on the top broiler for a couple of minutes to get it more golden.
Set of two photos showing Coconut Basbousa before and after baking.
  • Add the syrup: Right when you remove from the cake from the oven, evenly pour out the sugar syrup onto the cake. I like using a squeezable dispenser bottle to do that.
  • Cool and slice: Let the cake completely cool at room temperature before cutting through to get a perfect cut. Sprinkle some shredded coconut on the Basbousa before serving.

Tips and Notes

  • If you don’t have tahini, you can brush the pan with ghee or spray with baking spray.
  • If you don’t have almonds, you can place pistachios or pine nuts on top of the basbousa instead. But i prefer almonds. 
  • Do not skip the syrup. When the cake is still hot and the syrup is poured on, the cake absorbs it and helps it become extra moist.
  • Pre-cutting the Basbousa before baking helps make it much easier to make clean beautiful cuts after it’s been baked.
Overhead view of Coconut Basbousa.

FAQs

How is Basbousa served?

Basbousa can be served chilled or at room temperature. It is up to you. If you find that it has hardened too much in the fridge, simply let a slice sit at room temperature before eating to soften up.

How do I store this Basbousa?

Basbousa can be stored in an airtight container for about days at room temperature. If you’d like to keep it for longer, you can refrigerate it for about 7-10 days at it’s best. Just thaw a little to soften before eating.

What is semolina?

Semolina is a coarse, purified wheat middling’s of durum wheat. It is mainly used in making couscous, pasta, and sweet puddings. It is not gluten-free.

Is Basbousa the same as Namoura?

Basbousa is the term used in Egypt and Namoura is used in Lebanon. They are both the same dessert because they are made from the same base but Basbousa has added shredded coconut and Namoura does not.

Seven pieces of Coconut Basbousa placed in a star shape.

More Lebanese Recipes To Try

I hope you enjoy all the recipes I share with you, including this delicious Coconut Basbousa recipe. I hope you try it, enjoy it, rate it and share it with your friends and family!

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Close up of Coconut Basbousa cut into slices.

Coconut Basbousa

This Coconut Basbousa is an easy and delicious Middle Eastern dessert. Made with semolina, this dessert has a sweet, nutty flavor to it. Paired with the shredded coconut, this dessert is so flavorful!

Prep Time 1 hr 10 mins

Cook Time 45 mins

Total Time 1 hr 55 mins

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.

  • Mix all cake batter the ingredients in a stand mixer bowl on slow speed until well combined.

  • Brush a non stick 9 x 13 x 3 inch pan with tahini paste (both bottom and sides). Pour in the batter and spread the dough out with a spatula or your palm to even is out. Cover and let the batter rest for 1hr to absorb all the moisture.

  • Cut out the Basbousa into whatever shape you want. Squares and Diamonds are best. Place a piece of half an almond on top of each piece.

  • Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until golden brown in color. You can turn on the top broiler for a couple of minutes before removing it from the oven to add a more deeper brown color to the top if needed. Watch closely if you do that.

  • Right when you remove from the cake from the oven, evenly pour out the sugar syrup onto the cake. I like using a squeezable dispenser bottle to do that.

  • Let the cake completely cool at room temperature before cutting through to get a perfect cut. Sprinkle some shredded coconut on the Basbousa before serving.

Notes

  • If you don’t have yogurt, sour cream can be swapped.
  • If you don’t have tahini, you can brush the pan with ghee.
  • If you don’t have almonds, you can place pistachios on top of the basbousa instead. 
  • Do not skip the syrup. When the cake is still hot and the syrup is poured on, the cake absorbs it and helps it become extra moist.
  • Pre-cutting the basbousa before baking helps make it much easier to make clean beautiful cuts it’s been baked.

Nutrition

Calories: 347kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 161mg | Potassium: 140mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 16IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 2mg






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