Namoura, which is also known as basbousa, is a Moorish semolina cake found in many Arab and Middle Eastern countries. It has a coarse, sandy, crumbly texture from the semolina, and is held together by a fragrant, floral, sticky syrup. It’s a favourite sweet teatime and festive treat that’s baked at home or bought by the kilo in pastry shops; it’s also enjoyed during iftar in the months of Ramadan. The garden at my pub, the Parkers Arms, is flanked by elderflower trees, and our eagerly awaited annual harvest makes the best fragrant cordial for the glaze. The heady scent of the blossom is hard to miss, and although shop-bought versions make a great substitute, homemade is hard to beat, so if you enjoy foraging, do have a go at making your own.
This works as well with a mint tea for an afternoon pick-me-up as it does with yoghurt or ice-cream for pudding.
Prep 10 min
Chill 3 hr+
Cook 1 hr
Makes 10-12 squares
For the glaze
175ml elderflower cordial (homemade or shop-bought)
The zest and juice of 2 large lemons
For the cake
2 tbsp tahini paste
250g coarse semolina
50g ground almonds
125g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
75ml rapeseed oil
75ml coconut cream – Biona makes a good one
25ml vegan milk – I use Alpro’s no-sugar almond milk
Blanched peeled raw whole almonds, to garnish
Put the elderflower cordial in a small pan, put it on a medium heat just to warm through, then take off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and leave to cool. Meanwhile, grease a shallow (2½cm) 20cm x 30cm cake tin with the tahini paste.
Put the semolina, ground almonds, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a large bowl and mix to combine. Stir in the oil, cream and milk until everything is well incorporated, then pour into the prepared tin and use a spatula to spread out the batter evenly.
With a small sharp knife (a non-serrated one is best here), score the top of the batter into 4cm squares, then put a whole almond in the centre of each one. Put in the fridge for at least three hours, and ideally overnight.
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4, then bake the cake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is nicely golden brown. Remove from the oven, pour over the cooled elderflower lemon syrup, so it covers the whole top of the cake, then leave it to soak in and the cake to cool completely. Cut into squares and serve with yoghurt or ice-cream; it will keep in a cake tin for up to a week.
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