Buttermilk and Almond Basbousa with Orange and Cardamom Syrup

My basbousa is finally online! Let’s all celebrate by making basbousa?!

I am back to London where the weather is kind of “moody” which made me very nostalgic of my trips to Morocco and Ibiza. Summer is officially over for me! Being home also meant I had to deal with my least favourite back-from-holiday task: sorting out all the pictures. It took a while this time. I needed 3 folders! A regular one, a food one and a baby one!

This basbousa is inspired by my last trip in Lebanon where I basically ate its Levantine equivalent, called "harissé" over there. I was also told that they call it "namoura" in the Levant and "chamya" in Algeria. This delicious sweet semolina cake is prepared pretty much everywhere across North Africa and the Levant. There are many variations of this recipe and evidently I had to come up with my own! I choose to use almond flour and buttermilk because:

- almonds always bring more softness to the dough and add a delicate nutty taste.

- buttermilk adds a sweet buttery taste as opposed to other recipes that use yoghurt.

I decided to flavour my syrup with orange and cardamom because it’s one of my favourite combo! (Look, I even made orange and cardamom scones.)

I shot this recipe when I was in my parent's home. in Rabat. It was so much fun to cook and shoot with my mother! I had a hard time with the lightening since I am definitely not used to shoot with that much light.

I tried to make the most of my back home surroundings and decided to shot the final result of my basbousa with the zelige background in my parent’s backyard. Zelige reminds me of Fes where I used to spend the majority of my holidays as a child. My grand parents owned a massive Riad with zelige everywhere. Happy days.

Enjoy the recipe! 

Buttermilk and almond basbousa with Orange and Cardamom syrup

INGREDIENTS

  • 400 gr semolina flour
  • 150 gr almond flour
  • 50 gr caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 100 gr unsweetened melted butter (or lightly flavoured olive oil for a dairy free version)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

Syrup

  • 2 cupwater
  • 4 cup caster sugar  
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (or 1 ½  freshly ground cardamom)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about half a lemon)

Garnish

  • Dried fruits, nuts, seeds, etc., as desired. 

METHOD

• Preheat oven to 200 C (390 F).

• In a large bowl, transfer the semolina flour, almond flour, caster sugar and salt. Mix the ingredients together and add the melted butter. Mix again making sure all the ingredients are well combined.

• Add the buttermilk and the baking soda. Use your hand to mix the dough making sure that all the ingredients are nicely combined. You will notice that the dough is pretty stiff, it is how it should be, it should not be runny.

• Transfer the dough in a greased oven proof dish (20 cm x30 cm /9 inch x13 inch)  and flatten it with your hands or a large spoon. Make sure that dough is correctly levelled inside the dish.

• Use a butter knife to carefully pre-cut your basbousa with your desired design (square or lozenge design).

• Place the dish in the oven for 30 to 35 min or until nicely golden.

• While the basbousa is baking, prepare the syrup. Place the syrup ingredients in a deep skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and leave for 20 min to simmer.

• Remove the syrup from the heat and place to cool until ready to use.

• Use the desired garnish on top of each basbousa square or lozenge. The traditional garnish for basbousa is a blanched almond placed on top of each square/lozenges prior to baking.

• When the basbousa is baked and nicely golden remove from the oven and directly pour the syrup over the cake. 

• Wait until the syrup is fully absorbed before serving.