You may have noticed (or may not have noticed, if you're new here- welcome in that case!) that many of the recipes on my blog are Middle Eastern. Everything has a reason of course- in this case it would be because part of my origins are from that part of the world. Countries like Syria or Lebanon boast with glorious culinary specialties, especially when it comes to my favourite part of any meal- dessert. For instance, I had featured a post on the famous ''knafeh bil jibne'' not too long ago, which is a very popular sweet treat in Levant countries. However, Egypt (to me it's part of the Middle East even if it's on the African continent! you can of course agree to disagree!) is not what I would consider a country famous for it's sweets, wouldn't you say? I mean of course, it has a tremendous pride in it's version of falafels, but desserts? Could you name one on the top of your head? If not, then let me introduce you to one of my all time favourites: basboussa. Now many will argue on it's name or origin, but this will always be the case for Oriental recipes. Every country will claim that it is the inventor of this dish or that dish and names can vary across the region. Take the most common example- who invented hummus? falafels? shawarma? These kind of questions can result in never ending debates, I assure you! So it's best to avoid them and just focus on enjoying the delicious food instead- best advice I can give :)
I used a cake mould- but note that this is not the common way to make basboussa.
Back to basboussa- this is maybe one of the most loved desserts in Egypt, and the best versions I have ever tried are the ones made in Egypt. The only thing missing would be a big warning sign on it as it's terribly addictive. I mean, ridiculously addictive. Something to do with it's buttery yet crumbly texture and it's uber-sweetness, and that each bite literally melts in your mouth like an icecube on a hot pan and yet even after a second, third, dare I say fourth serving, you still feel like you haven't eaten anything! Dangerous stuff I tell you!
Basboussa has a very crumbly texture, but that is part of it's charm!
On the upside however, it is one of the easiest sweets to make- it seriously takes five minutes to prepare. FIVE MINUTES! All you need is fine semolina, butter, milk, shredded coconut, and sugar! Five key ingredients, five delicious minutes. Need I say more?
Recipe for Basboussa
(note that there are many different versions of this recipe and each country has it's own name for this dessert. The version below is a common Egyptian recipe)
200gr fine semolina
100gr grated coconut
Almonds (optional, for decoration. It is important however that they be either blanched full almonds or slivered blanched almonds)
For the syrup:
2 cups water + 2 cups sugar + 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
*In this case, a cup = a drinking cup (approx 300-400ml in size). Just fill up the cups with the ingredients, no need to weigh or use proper measuring cups for the syrup.
Preheat oven to 200C. Melt the milk and butter together. In a bowl, mix the fine semolina, sugar and grated coconut. Then add the milk and butter on the dry ingredients- mix well. Pour mixture into a baking tray, top off with almonds, and bake for 30 minutes. Check to see if ready- it should form a beautiful golden crust. If necessary, extend baking time for another 10 minutes.
While the basboussa is in the oven, prepare the syrup by boiling the water and sugar together on high heat. When it reaches it starts bubbling, let it continue boiling for 5-10 minutes so that it becomes a thick syrup. At the end, add the orange blossom water. Set aside.
Once the basboussa is baked and out of the oven, immediately pour the syrup gently and slowly over. Let cool for at least an hour- when it's hot it will be too difficult to slice up.