Searching around on the Internet for a nut-free Middle Eastern dessert to make at A Little Yumminess Around the World Summer Camp, I lucked into this wonderful recipe for Moroccan Basbusa cake. The recipe comes via a great Jerusalem-based food blog called Ari cooks (via a personal recipe from a Moroccan pastry chef who Ari works with). It brings together the irresistible flavors of orange juice, orange blossom water and coconut and has a wonderful texture from semolina and a fantastic lightness from beaten egg whites. This is the kind of cake that could be spongy and dense, but instead manages to be incredibly moist and light at the same time….. Did I mention the warm cake is also drizzled with simple syrup and sprinkled with more coconut? Are you salivating yet?
This kids made sure to ask every 5 minutes if it was cake time yet, and when it was finally time we all enjoyed our super yummy, hard earned dessert with fragrant cups of mint tea. This one’s a winner!
Mali’s Moroccan Basbusa Cake
(adapted from Ari Cooks, makes 1 cake in a 10″ diameter round cake pan)
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup vegetable oil (you can substitute the full amount of oil with the oil of your choice)
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
- 3/4 cups sugar (1/2 for step 2, 1/4 cup for step 3)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (and more for sprinkling on top if you like)
- 1/2 cup semolina
- 1/2 cup flour
- pinch of salt
for the syrup:
Simmer 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 water until sugar is dissolved. You could flavor the syrup with orange zest or orange blossom water if you like.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 10″ round cake pan with a piece of parchment paper on the bottom.
- Mix the egg yolks with oil, juice, 1/2 cup sugar and whisk. Add flour, semolina, coconut and pinch of salt until just combined.
- In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar while continuing to whip the whites until they have reached soft peaks.
- Carefully fold the whites into the batter (don’t over mix!) and pour the batter into your prepared pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until the cake springs back when you press it in the center.
- While the cake is warm, drizzle the syrup over the top, then let the cake cool and fully absorb the syrup before serving. Sprinkle the top with more shredded coconut.
This dessert would be a perfect end to a Moroccan dinner featuring another tasty favorite: Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives (“Djej M’Chermel).