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

Close up of Coconut Basbousa cut into slices.
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Soft, moist, and super tasty, this semolina cake 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.

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 or also known as semolina cake. 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.

Basbousa Ingredients

Basbousa ingredients laid out
  • Coarse and Fine Semolina— Semolina and farina are both made of hard wheat. Semolina is made specifically from durum wheat. Fine semolina is also called farina or ferkha.
  • Granulated sugar— used to sweeten the cake and make the simple syrup.
  • Finely shredded coconut — unsweetened and finely shredded.
  • Baking powder— used to fluff up the cake.
  • Baking soda— balances out the texture of the cake.
  • Vegetable or canola oil— for this recipe I prefer using oil. You can substitute with melted ghee.
  • Yogurt — use whole fat for the best flavor.
  • Orange blossoms water— an important ingredient for this recipe. The orange blossom water is a must.
  • 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 Basbousa Cake

  • Preheat oven to 375 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 35 minutes or until golden brown in color. You can turn on the top broiler for a couple of minutes to get it more golden if yours wasn’t there by then.
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. Takes about 3-4 hours. Sprinkle some shredded coconut on the Basbousa before serving.

Tips to Make Basbousa Recipe

  • The cake should have a generous amount of syrup so it doesn’t come out dry and crumbly. The cake will absorb all the syrup.
  • If you don’t have tahini, you can brush the pan with ghee or spray with baking spray and dust with flour.
  • 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 to store Basbousa?

Basbousa can be stored in an airtight container for about 5 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

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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5 from 3 votes

Basbousa Cake with Coconut

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: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 24 pieces

Ingredients 

Cake Batter

  • 2 ¾ cups coarse semolina
  • ½ cup fine semolina, also known as ferkha
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups finely shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 3 tsps. baking powder
  • tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • cup yogurt, whole fat
  • ¼ cup orange blossoms water

Everything else

  • cup sliced almonds, peeled, halves
  • 3 tbsps. tahini paste, for brushing the pan
  • 3 cups Cold Lebanese Simple Syrup, Or more per preference

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375 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 30 minutes 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 35 minutes or 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. It should take about 3-4 hours. Sprinkle some shredded coconut on the Basbousa before serving.

Notes

  • The cake should have a generous amount of syrup so it doesn’t come out dry. The cake will absorb all the syrup.
  • If you don’t have tahini, you can brush the pan with ghee or spray with baking spray and dust with flour.
  • 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.

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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