Monday, November 11, 2013

Basbousa or the Goan Baath Cake - Semolina Coconut Cake

The Baath or Batica Cake is a semolina and coconut cake from Goa, that is traditionally made during Christmas. It is very similar to a cake from the Portuguese cuisine called Bolo de Coco. Surprisingly, the Baath cake is also similar to an Egyptian / Arabic cake called the Basbousa / Hareesa and also features in Lebanese, Turkish and Greek cuisine. There is a slight difference in the method and/or ingredients that each of these cakes employ but semolina remains the primary ingredient. Like in the Tres Leches cake where milk is poured on the cake, the Basbousa Cake has sugar syrup poured on it.  This Basbousa cake is rich in coconut, and both coconut milk and coconut flakes are used in this recipe.
Being Keralites, we are partial to anything coconut and I liked the Baath cake right from my first bite. There was one store near our place in Mumbai that stocked this cake and the fellow at the counter started recognizing me as one who came repeatedly for the Baath Cake. So, I tried a recipe the minute I laid my eyes on it but it did not turn out as well as I hoped - it turned out dry and slightly burnt. I was sorely disappointed with the results and couldn't wait to try another recipe again. This recipe for Basbousa did sound daunting at first what with no sugar being used in the cake but using sugar syrup instead. The sugar syrup gets absorbed in a short time and the result is not sticky as well. The original recipe calls for 1.5 cup sugar for the syrup but I used only 1 cup sugar thinking it would turn out too sweet especially since the condensed milk was already sweet. My recipe, thus, is not overtly sweet and is a rich, moist and dense cake but tastes really yummy.
for the cake
Semolina / Rawa - 2 cups
Coconut flakes - 1 cup
Coconut milk - 1 cup
Condensed milk - 1 can (400gms)
Butter - 1/2 cup + 1tsp (applying on pan)
Baking pwd - 1.5 tsp
Eggs - 2
Rose essence - 1 to 2 drops
for syrup
Sugar - 1 cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Lemon juice - a few drops
Orange essence - 1 to 2 drops
Rose essence - 3 to 4 drops
Preheat the oven to 170C degrees (the original recipe stated 180 degrees, going by my oven's performance I kept the temperature at 170C degrees and it worked for me). Grease the pan you want to bake the cake in with the 1 tsp butter. I used my bundt cake pan since I could not find my rectangle shaped pan.

Take a mixing bowl and add in the butter and condensed milk and using a wooden spatula mix the two. There is no need to beat the batter in this cake. Once the two has mixed in add the baking powder and mix it in. In another bowl lightly whisk the eggs and then mix into the butter condensed milk mixture. When these contents are mixed add the coconut milk, the semolina or rawa and the coconut flakes. Mix all these ingredients lightly with the spatula till they have blended well together. Pour into the greased pan and insert it into the ready oven.

Bake the cake for about 35 to 40 minutes, till the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean when pierced.
In the time that the cake is baking in the oven, make the syrup separately on the stove. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water to a boil. Let it simmer for 6 to 8 minutes and then take off the heat and add the lemon juice and rose or orange blossom water. I did not have rose or orange blossom water, instead I used rose essence and orange essence which I had.
Once the cake is ready, remove from the oven and prick it with a toothpick or fork. Pour the syrup all over the cake. Keep the cake aside to cool before serving. Slice the cake and serve.
 the sugar syrup soaked cake
a slice of cake anyone?
My Basbousa goes to these events:

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