Basboosa (Egyptian semolina cake)
A melting sweetness dessert which is also a favorite Egyptian sweet. Goes well with coffee or tea.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Add the 2 cups of sugar, water and lemon juice to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil for about 8 to 10 more minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the orange flower water or rosewater if using and set the syrup aside to cool.
Sift together the semolina, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer and cream together until light and fluffy. Next add the eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla.
With the mixer speed on medium-low speed, add about 1/3 of the semolina mixture to the butter and beat to incorporate. Then add 1/2 the yogurt and again beat to incorporate. Finish with the remaining ingredients, alternating the semolina with the remaining yogurt. Beat until smooth. Scrape the bowl and beat again.
Pour the batter into a buttered 9x12-inch baking pan or into two 8-inch round cake pans and smooth out the top. Use a knife to make diagonal lines in two directions on the surface of the batter, creating diamond shapes. Arrange an almond in the center of each diamond. Place in the oven and bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned on the top.
Remove the cake from the oven and pour some of the cooled sugar syrup slowly over the entire cake while it is hot. Allow the syrup to soak into the cake before pouring on more, using up all the syrup. Set the cake aside until it is completely cooled.
Cut the basboosa into diamond-shaped pieces and serve at room temperature with coffee or tea.
Use milk instead of yogurt. Increase the baking powder to 2 teaspoons and eliminate the baking soda.
Often served with whipped cream or a dollop of ushta, a type of clotted cream.
Use pistacchios or walnuts instead of almonds if you like.