Sweet Semolina Cake with Rose Water

This easy and quick-to-make Middle Eastern semolina cake from blogger Sasha Martin is very dense but moist; she recommends serving it with a hefty dollop of whipped cream and a strong cup of tea. Slideshow: More Middle Eastern Recipes 

Sweet Semolina Cake with Rose Water
Photo: © Con Poulos
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs
1 8-inch cake



  • 1/4 cup ghee, melted, plus more for greasing

  • 3 cups (17 ounces) fine durum semolina

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon rose water

  • Slivered almonds, for garnish


  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon rose water

  • Whipped cream, for serving


Make the cake

  1. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the almonds. Add 11/4 cups of warm water and mix with a wooden spoon until a thick batter forms. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and let rest at room temperature until set and semi-firm, about 30 minutes.

  2. Preheat the oven to 325°. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, score the top of the cake in a diamond pattern, cutting 1/4 inch deep into the cake. Place a few almond slivers in each diamond, pressing gently to help them adhere. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, until golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, lemon juice, rose water and 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Let cool.

  2. Using a sharp paring knife, cut the cake along the score lines all the way to the bottom of the pan. Pour the syrup evenly all over the cake. Let the cake stand for at least 1 hour or overnight to absorb the syrup. Serve with whipped cream.


Ghee is a version of clarified butter that’s commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking. It’s available at specialty food shops and on amazon.com. Fine durum semolina is available from King Arthur Flour.

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