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Perfect Coffee Cake: Rose Semolina Cake Recipe

Updated on January 29, 2010

Basbousa is the name of this syrup-laden semonlina cake. And despite its origins in tea-dominated regions, this is just about the best coffee cake. Ever.

Hailing from North Africa, this cake is textured, full-mouthed, and just sweet enough to perfectly complement the nutty notes of coffee. The trick to baking a perfect basbousa cake is matching the syrup making time to your baking time. It's essential to pour slightly-cooled syrup (of typical maple syrup consistency) over a hot cake. This will ensure that your cake will be evenly moistened and dripping, just like a crisp golden baklava. Only, this cake is packed with texture and rose-flavor.


The best coffee to go with this cake is a medium nutty roast with a touch of bitterness. The fullness of your coffee will nicely complement the syrup, rose, and dense texture. You can get this coffee from your Keurig brewer or any other one-cup brewer. The following recipe is taken from Tess Mallos' North African Cooking. And while Mallos doesn't say anything about rose flavor, I guarantee that the added lightness of rose water will definitely make this cake a winner. Though my guests are hesistant at the sound and look of something so different from their typical coffee cake, they are always smitten at first bite.




½ c unsalted better

¾ c sugar

1 scraped vanilla pod (or ½ tsp of essence)

2 eggs

2c semolina

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¾ c plain whole-milk yogurt (drained or the Greek kind)

2 tsp rose water (optional)


2 c sugar

1½ c water

½ tbsp lemon juice



  1. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one by one.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift semolina, baking powder, and baking soda.
  3. Incorporate dry mixture into butter mixture, alternating with the yogurt.
  4. Mix in the optional rose water.
  5. Transfer batter into a medium cake tin.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.
  7. In the meantime, make sugar by boiling sugar, water, and lemon juice. Boil rapidly for 10-20 minutes, until reduced. Set aside to cool slightly.
  8. When cake is hot out of the oven, and syrup is at syrup consistency, poor syrup over cake. Serve when cooled.

Coffee Suggestion

The perfect cup of joe to accompany this cake is a nutty roast with a hint of bitterness. This coffee most likely will be a medium blend that brings out the natural nut flavor of the coffee bean, but also maintains the bitterness of a green bean. The coffee shouldn't be to complex as the main star in this combination is the syrupy, rose-infused, rough-textured sponge. Green Mountain Coffee Vermont Country Blend is a medium rost that is described as mellow, toasty, and clear. This smooth Keurig coffee offers the well-rounded coffee flavor that brings out the taste of the cake.

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    • globalcoffeegrind profile image

      globalcoffeegrind 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing Gusripper. If you give this one a try, let us know!

    • gusripper profile image

      gusripper 8 years ago

      Look in Grecce we prefer cold coffees like frappe(cold nescafe)and its always very difficult to have a cake .But this one sounds good.