How to Make Basboosa – Semolina Cake with Honey Syrup

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 33,885
    Chef Amy Riolo demonstrates how to make Egyptian cuisine including Basboosa.

    Amy Riolo: Hi! I am Amy Riolo. Today I am working in the kitchen at Sur La Table in Arlington, Virginia. I am teaching you how to make Egyptian cuisine. This recipe is called Semolina Cake with Honey Syrup. The ingredients which we will need are starting with the honey syrup, 1 whole lemon, 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons honey. For the semolina cake, we will need 11/2 cups semolina, ! cup unbleached all purpose flour, 1/2 sugar and 1 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, that's 11/2 sticks, 1/2 cup plain full fat yogurt and a handful of blenched almonds to decorate. The tools which we will need are a baking pan, it can be either 9X13 inches or 11X17 inches, depending upon the thickness of cake that you would like, a wooden spoon to stir our syrup, a peeler, a variety of spatulas, a mixing bowl and a sauce pan to make our syrup. To get started, we are going to make our honey syrup. The first thing that we need to do is put our sauce pan on the stove and we are going to add equal amounts of water and sugar. So this is 1 cup of water, this is enough for one recipe, but if you wanted to double it, you could do that very easily. Just make sure that your proportions are the same and 1 cup of sugar. To that I am going to add the juice of 1 lemon, that's about a 1/4 of a cup but it doesn't have to be exact.

    Then I am going to add 3 pieces of lemon peel and the lemon peel are really key to this recipe because all of the essential oils from the lemon are located in the peel. They are going to release into the syrup and give us a great flavor. They also provide us with a little marker to tell us when the syrup is actually going to be cooked.

    So now I am going to turn my flame on to about medium and then I am just going to stir everything together. So I am stirring the sugar and the water very slowly, you don't have to be aggressive with this at all at this point. All we are trying to do is dissolve the sugar, the water and the lemon juice together. This is the key to making any syrup. Even if you are making a syrup for Baklava or another style of dish from the Middle-East you could do it the same way, just make sure that everything is incorporated. Super simple and the great thing about syrups like this is that they don't go bad. So you can cool them down and put them in a container in the refrigerator and leave them for a month. You can use them to sweeten drinks like lemonade or cocktails or to use for other kinds of pastries that you will be making.

    As you can see now, we are starting to be able to look into the syrup, it's becoming translucent. As the syrup becomes translucent, you know that everything has dissolved in together. We are just going to bring this up to a boil, stirring very slowly. Once this starts to boil, we are going to stop stirring because if we went to continue stirring, that would mean that the sugar would actually crystallize in our syrup. We don't want that to happen, we want to have a nice smooth syrup. So we are just going to bring it up to a boil. It takes a few minutes depending upon your flame and depending upon how fast you are stirring. The name of this cake that we are making in Egypt is called Basboosa. It's a really traditional desert, it's kind of the apple pie of Egypt. It was inspired by some of the other dishes in the region. Like in the Middle-East they have something called Nammura and in Turkey they have Revani. So this is the Egyptian version of it.

    You can see now we are starting to boil. What I am going to do now is turn the flame down to simmer or low and just let the syrup cook. We are going to let it reduce for about 10 minutes, until it's get a little bit thicker. We will be able to tell when this syrup is done cooking because we are going to look at our lemon peel. The lemon peel will actually have crawled up and it will become a little bit darker in color. So it looks likes a candied lemon peel. So now it's been about 10 minutes and we can tell that our honey syrup is finished cooking because the lemon peel has crawled up around the edges and has a candied like appearance. Whenever you see this kind of a finish in a syrup, you know that it's cooked enough. Also, the volume has been reduced by half. You can smell, as I remove this lemon peel from this syrup, I can really smell a perfusion of lemon into the air, smell is wonderful. Now I can turn off my flame. Now we are going to add 2 teaspoons of honey to our syrup. The honey is really key in this recipe because it gives the sweetness of the syrup, a little bit of depth and it helps to heighten the sweetness of the sugar and really will taste wonderful as its drizzled on to our semolina cake. When that happens, we know that our syrup is done. When we come back, we are going to make our semolina cake.