Middle Eastern Coconut Semolina Cake
I love Middle Eastern sweets redolent of cardamom and rosewater, since they remind me of celebrations at the homes of my Persian relatives. Hareesh, also called basbousa, is a dense Arabic cake made from semolina flour that is then doused in sugar syrup and garnished with pistachios. This version adds coconut into the mix. You may wish to use half of the syrup to start, then determine if you want to use the whole batch. Hareesh is perfect with hot black tea.
Makes 1 cake
You Will Need
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease an 8-inch round cake pan.
Combine the butter, cream, milk, yogurt, and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk well until smooth.
Whisk together the semolina flour, coconut, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Add to the milk mixture and whisk well until you have a very thick, smooth batter that can be cut with a knife. Add more semolina, a spoonful at a time, if needed.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Dip a sharp paring knife in hot water and use it to cut a pattern of squares or diamonds that are about 11/2 by 11/2 inches (see photo) in the batter. Bake the hareesh for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is firm to the touch and golden brown, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If the hareesh isn’t browned but is cooked through, you can place it under the broiler for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Cool for 10 minutes, then run your knife along the score lines.
While the hareesh is baking, prepare the syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the mixture becomes a syrup about the consistency of maple syrup, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the rosewater and lemon juice, and allow to cool completely.
Pour the syrup over the hot hareesh. Decorate each square of hareesh with the crushed pistachios and allow to cool before serving.