Semolina cakes are a feature of North African cuisine, and they are a notable feature of Libyan cookery (Basboosa) and Egyptian cookery (Egyptian Basboosa). In North Africa the cakes are typically served drizzled with lemon and honey sugar syrup. The cake presented here is very simple to make, but is served as a cake, without the syrup.
Semolina CakeServes: 6–8
Ingredients:300g (2 3/4 cups) caster sugar
1l (4 cups) cold water
50g (1/2 cup) blanched almonds
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 cinnamon stick
250ml (1 cup) olive oil
350g (3 cups) coarse semolina
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Method:Combine the sugar and water in a heavy-based pan. Add the cinnamon stick then bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Now continue boiling without stirring for 4 minutes to form a syrup.
In the meantime, heat the oil in a separate, heavy-based pan. When hot add the semolina and cook gently, stirring constantly, until lightly browned. Reduce the heat, add the almonds and pine nuts and toast gently for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Take off the heat, turn the contents of the pan into a bowl and set aside. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick.
Wearing an oven glove for protection, gradually add the hot syrup to the semolina mixture, stirring constantly (take care as the mixture may well spit). Return to a gentle heat and stir until all the syrup has been absorbed an the mixture is smooth.
Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a clean dish towel and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. After this time, scrape the mixture into a 22cm (9 in) diameter cake tin (fluted is best).
Set aside to cool completely then unmould onto a serving dish. Dust with the ground cinnamon, cut into wedges and serve.