Saudi Arabia: بسبوسة

Today we are making a cake very common in the Middle East but this particular version is Saudi Arabian. The cake is called “Basboosa” and is a semolina cake soaked in a lemon and rose water syrup. As the recipe author puts it- “each bite is like a garden at sunrise” and I couldn’t agree more!

I love lemon and rose so I was very excited to make this recipe. You can find the recipe at

The recipe calls for ‘durum semolina’ and it has to be durum semolina for it to work. Semolina is its’ own thing, it is not flour or corn meal. I could not find semolina in any of my local grocery stores so I ordered some online. My bag was durum semolina but it was Italian and it did not soak up the syrup as the recipe states. So make sure you find Middle Eastern Durum Semolina!

The recipe is simple enough, you mix all the ingredients together and let it rest. The batter contains yeast so it needs to rise for 30 minutes to an hour.

Next pour the batter into a round cake pan and score. I attempted a score but as you can see my batter was too wet- this was the first sign that my semolina was incorrect. This is also when you can decorate with nuts but since we are a nut free house I omitted those.

Next you bake it. Once done slice it along the score lines, or where you think the score lines were. Set the cake aside.

Now for the syrup of water, sugar, lemon juice and rose water. It only takes a few minutes for the sugar to dissolve and for your kitchen to smell amazing!

Pour the syrup over the cake and it will look like a ‘glass lake’. Allow the syrup to soak into the cake for at least an hour- I waited overnight and if you have the right semolina it will all be absorbed. Mine did not, I maintained a cm of syrup sitting on top of my cake after several hours.

Finally, cut and enjoy with some tea. The cake was very dense and one bite it was obvious the semolina was incorrect but I will say I didn’t care because the flavor was amazing!!

This cake was delicious and I look forward to someday getting my hands on the right semolina or better yet traveling to Saudi Arabia and having it there!

For more rose, check out our trip to Columbia.

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