Basbousa (Semolina slice)

semolina slice in a tray with sugar syrup

Market ingredient: N/A
Honestly SO easy. You can prepare and cook in under 1 hr
Deliciousness: Sugary sweetness. 
Did The Beard like it? 

It’s that time of the year again where I get myself whipped into a frenzy about the impending annual ski trip. And this year we got the call up to partake in the Annual Parentals Trip to Turnak. i.e The Beard and I will be hanging out with Mamma and Papa Brown and their friends for an entire week in a legendary lodge in Guthega that doesn’t have internet connection. Nor a TV. Nor mobile phone reception, unless you are with Optus, stand on a stool in the front corner of the living room and direct your phone north. In the vein of all good ski trips, such a week always involves an incredible amount of food and wine and it’s up to each person who is staying to take it in turns cooking for the rest of the team for 1 night.

As a result, this post is a bit of a practice post. Well, it’s about me practicing my dessert course for that snow week. It’s not about any ingredient that I bought at the markets this week, but about getting a recipe right. To follow the Roast chicken with Pernod and oranges, we’re going to crack out a middle eastern dessert. A few weeks back, I found this Karen Martini recipe for a semolina slice called Basbousa. Looking at the ingredients, The Beard believes it’s almost identical to the Lebanese Namoura, although apparently Namoura doesn’t contain coconut nor yoghurt. Either way, I’ve had a couple of goes at this now and by George, I think I’ve got it! My first attempt (see photo below) saw the dish having a slightly lumpy surface and slightly cakey texture of some of the middle pieces.

cooked semolina slice with almonds

1st attempt before I utilised a rolling pin to flatten the surface.

However after consulting The Beard’s Mum, she made the following suggestions:

  1. Make sure the surface area is flat and even
  2. Don’t make the slice too thick
  3. Make a little extra syrup

I then consulted my only personal culinary advisor (Mamma), who came up with the ingenious idea of utilising a rolling pin over the mixture to make sure it was smooth. Legend. In the end, it turned out brilliantly and, along with my falafels, is ALMOST like Grandma used to make…

ingredients for basbousa

Ingredients for Basbousa (Semolina slice)

  • 450g fine semolina
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 200g thick plain yoghurt
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 50g almond meal
  • 75g self raising flour
  • 60ml milk
  • 200g melted butter
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • about 30 blanched almonds
  • about 30 unsalted pistachios

For the syrup

  • 300g caster sugar
  • 200ml water
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp rosewater


  1. Preheat the oven to 170C fan forced (or 190C conventional oven). Butter a shallow baking tin or swiss roll tin about 30cm wide.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the semolina, sugar, yoghurt, coconut, almond meal, flour, milk, butter and vanilla essence until well combined. The mixture should feel like a dense paste.
  3. Spread the mix into the greased baking tin, pushing it flat with a spatula. If you have a rolling pin wide enough, roll out the mix so it have an even surface.semolina slice mix in a tray before cooking
  4. Cut a 4cm diamond pattern into the mix and dot each diamond with a pistachio and an amond. Bake in the overn for 35 minutes or until golden.semolina slice with almonds in a tray before cooking
  5. Whilst the slice bakes, make the syrup. Boil the sugar with 200ml water for 3 minutes. Take off the heat and add the rosewater and lemon juice then let cool.
  6. Once cooked, remove the slice from the oven. Whilst still hot, cut along the pre-scored diamond pattern again – this will help the syrup soak to the bottom of the slice. Again, whilst the slice is still hot, pour the sugar syrup over the slice. Continue to add the sugar syrup until the slice has reached ‘saturation’ point.
  7. Decorate with rose petals to serve (if you have any – it still looks just as pretty without it).

semolina slice in a tray with almonds and pistachios

The second time around, I LOVED this dish. The first time, the flavour was right, but the texture wasn’t quite there. It should be dense and sticky all the way through with syrup. It’s great just sliced and served as petit fours. Or to make it more of a ‘dessert course’ serve a couple of pieces with a good dollop of plain natural yoghurt. The yoghurt ads a lovely richness and cuts through the intense sweetness of the rosewater sugar syrup.  YUM.

So second time around, this turned out to be AMAZING


2 thoughts on “Basbousa (Semolina slice)

  1. I am so impressed and soooooo hungry reading this. Send some to Stockholm pls!! Also can you pls post your falafel recipe? X

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