While basbousa is originally Egyptian, it can be found throughout virtually all of the Middle East. To bess in Arabic means “to dredge,” which is where this dessert gets its name, because it’s made by massaging butter into semolina granules before adding the rest of the ingredients. Creating a vegan version of basbousa that had the same rich-yet-light flavor and solid-yet-crumbly texture was tricky, but after much recipe testing, the result is breathtaking. Every bite is buttery, melt-in-your-mouth good and bursting with the gorgeous floral flavors of the soaking syrup. Fun fact, because of its sweetness, basbousais used as a term of endearment between loved ones. Credit: Reprinted with permission from The Vegan Middle Eastern Cookbook by Noha Elbadry - Cloud. Page Street Publishing Co. 2023. Photo credit: Noha Elbadry - Cloud.
Ingredients You Need for Basbousa [Vegan]
For the Basbousa:
- 3 cups (500 g) semolina, medium grind
- 1 cup (240 ml) vegan butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus 1 tsp for greasing
- 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (55 g) coconut flour, preferably coarse
- 1/2 cup (110 g) vegan sour cream
- 1/2 cup (115 g) plain vegan yogurt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4- 1/2 cup (60–120 ml) plant milk, at room temperature
- 20–24 almonds
For the Simple Syrup:
- 2 cups (400 g) sugar
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) lemon juice, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) vegan butter
- 1 teaspoon rose water
- 1 teaspoon blossom water
How to Prepare Basbousa [Vegan]
- In a large bowl, combine the semolina and melted butter. Using your hands, massage the butter into the semolina until all the semolina granules look well coated/saturated. This ensures the basbousa has that lovely crumbly texture.
- Add the sugar, coconut flour, sour cream, yogurt and baking powder to the semolina. Gently fold the ingredients in using a spatula until incorporated. Don’t knead, vigorously stir or overmix because that will cause the texture to harden once baked.
- Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) of milk and fold it in. If the mixture is too dry, add another ¼ cup (60 ml) of milk. The texture should be similar to corn bread, wet but holding together. Cover and place the mixture in the fridge for 45 minutes.
- To make the simple syrup, combine 2 cups (480 ml) of water with the sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Whisk it together to dissolve, then place the pan over high heat. Once boiling, let the mixture reduce for 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter, rose water and blossom water. Whisk until the butter is completely dissolved. Set it aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13–inch (22 x 33–cm) cake pan with 1 teaspoon of butter.
- Spread the chilled basbousa mixture evenly in the pan. Using a serrated knife, cut into either 20 or 24 squares. Press an almond in the center of each square. Bake the basbousa for 25 to 27 minutes, or until lightly golden at the edges. Broil for 5 to 7 minutes, or until top is crispy and golden.
- Remove the pan from the oven and immediately ladle simple syrup onto it. Continue to add syrup one ladleful at a time until it stops being immediately absorbed. Serve the basbousa at room temperature with extra syrup on the side.
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