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Basbousa Cake with Halvah Cream and Semolina Crumble

A sweet, fragrant cake for Rosh Hashanah with a rich history.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10 1x


Units Scale

For the cake:

  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tsp vanilla sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup semolina
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • juice of 3 oranges
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup sugar

For the syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • juice of 1 lemon

For the semolina crisp:

  • 7 Tbsp semolina
  • 7 Tbsp margarine
  • 7 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour

For the halvah cream:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream or non-dairy whipping cream, such as Dairy Rich
  • 8 oz halvah (good Israeli or Arab brand)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs and baking powder with a hand mixer. Add the vanilla sugar, semolina, flour, orange juice, oil, coconut flakes and sugar and continue mixing. Don’t over mix it!
  3. Bake in a greased pan for 30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out moist but not liquid).
  4. While the cake is in the oven, prepare the syrup: In a small sauce combine the water, sugar, cardamom pods and lemon juice, cook until the sugar is dissolved and let cool.
  5. Once the cake is out of the oven and still hot, slowly drizzle a few Tbsp of the syrup on the cake, wait until the cake absorbs the syrup and continue until you finish the syrup.
  6. To prepare the semolina crisp: In a food processor combine all of the ingredients, and pulse a few times until all of the ingredients are combined and form crumbs.
  7. Remove from the processor and place into a sheet of plastic wrap; create a shape of a ball and let sit in the freezer for at list 20 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Prepare a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, and using a grater, shave the semolina crisp dough into crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes until the crisp browns lightly (check every few minutes that it’s not burning). Remove from oven, cool and break to medium-size crisps.
  9. To prepare the halvah cream: Place the whipping cream into a mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk the cream until stiff.
  10. Meanwhile, using a grater, shave the halvah. Shaved halvah in to the whipped cream and serve.
  • Author: Shlomo Schwartz
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Mizrahi