Semolina cakes are found throughout the Middle East and are popular in Jewish Sephardic kitchens. Called basbousa, safra, tishpishti or revani, they can be filled with dates, garnished with almonds, and can even be made with ground walnuts instead of, or in addition to, semolina. These crumbly dry cakes are doused with syrup immediately after baking, making them moist and very sweet.
The following is a slightly unorthodox version that contains freshly squeezed orange (or tangerine) juice and citrus marmalade, and is prepared with separated eggs for a light fluffy texture.
Ingredients (for a 25x30 cm/10x12 inch baking pan)
6 eggs, separated
100 g (31/2 oz, 1/2 cup) sugar
100 g (31/2 oz, 1 cup) ground coconut
140 g (5 oz, 1 cup) sifted flour
270 g (10 oz, 21/2 cups) semolina
25 g (1 oz, 11/2 tablespoons) ground almonds
20 g (2 small sachets, 4 teaspoons) baking powder
240 ml (81/2 fl oz, 1 cup) oil
360 ml (13 fl oz, 11/2 cup) freshly squeezed orange or tangerine juice
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
240 ml (81/2 fl oz, 1 cup) orange or lemon marmalade The Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water The Garnish:
Crushed almonds or coconut flakes
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the sugar for 8 minutes until they hold stiff peaks.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl: coconut, flour, semolina, ground almonds and baking powder.
Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl, gradually adding the oil, juice, orange zest and marmalade.
Stir in the dry ingredients slowly until combined well. Gently fold in the peaked egg whites.
Pour the batter into a well-greased pan and bake for 30 minutes, until the cake turns golden and a toothpick comes out dry with a few crumbs adhering.
While the cake is in the oven prepare the syrup: Bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
Take the cake out of the oven and pour on the syrup evenly. Cool completely and garnish with almonds or coconut.