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Over the coming weeks, regular Borough Market chefs will offer their recipes to show their support. This week, Beca Lyne-Pirkis shares her recipe for basbousa, a traditional Middle Eastern semolina cake. This sweet sticky cake is light in texture and incredibly moreish. I’ve adapted the traditional recipe by adding ground pistachios into the mix, as well as bejewelling my diamonds with pistachios. The cake is dense, but as the mixture uses melted butter as well as yoghurt, the texture is moist, sweet, sticky and delicious.

  • Borough Market
  • Serves Ten


For the cake

  • 65g pistachios
  • 300g semolina
  • 50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 65g self-raising flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g natural plain yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 25g whole pistachios to decorate

For the rosewater syrup

  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175ml water
  • A good squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 tsp rosewater

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Grease and line a round 9” cake tin.
  2. Grind the pistachios in a food processor then pop into a mixing bowl along with the semolina, desiccated coconut, flour, and sugar. Melt the butter then add to the dry ingredients along with the yoghurt and vanilla extract.
  3. Stir with a wooden spoon until evenly combined then pour into your prepared cake tin. Smooth the top with your spoon then, using a sharp knife, mark out diamonds. Place a pistachio kernel in the middle of every diamond then bake on the middle shelf for 35-40 mins.
  4. While the cake is baking, make the syrup by dissolving the sugar in the water in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Leave to bubble for 5 mins then remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and rosewater.
  5. Once the cake is baked, remove from the oven and cut along the previously marked lines to re- define the diamonds. Spoon over all the syrup while the cake is still hot then leave to cool in the tin before serving.
  6. ALTERNATIVE: You can use almonds in place of pistachios and you can use orange blossom water in place of rosewater.

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