Lebanese Namoura is an incredible syrup-soaked semolina cake, similar to basbousa, yet different. This baked semolina cake is made from fine semolina whereas basbousa, is made with coarse semolina. Drenched in a sugary orange blossom syrup, this famous dessert across the Levant region is easy to make with very few ingredients.
What I Love About This Recipe
Contrary to popular belief Lebanese namoura isn't difficult to make. It takes a bit of prep to make sure it turns out perfect but it's pretty simple to bring together and it's finger-licking good.
- Fine semolina: There are two kinds of semolina, both are darker and more golden in color than all-purpose flour but one is fine and the other is coarse. You want to make sure to use fine semolina to make Lebanese namoura or else its texture will be affected.
- Sugar: Key ingredient for the namoura batter and also for the syrup that it's drenched in once it comes out of the oven.
- Butter: The best Lebanese namoura requires a lot of butter. A friend who's an expert in making this recipe told me not to skimp on this ingredient and to make sure to use the best quality of butter that's available.
- Yogurt: Essential to give you the perfect namoura texture. Some people like to use Greek yogurt for this recipe. I used regular yogurt and it works too.
- Baking powder: Super important and acts as our leavening agent here.
- Lemon Juice: For our aromatic, sugary syrup.
- Orange blossom water (mazaher): My favorite ingredient. Smells incredible and adds an incredible flavor to the namoura syrup.
How To Make Namoura
Measure the semolina and sugar in a bowl.
Add the melted butter to the semolina and sugar. Mix them up really well.
In a separate bowl, mix the yogurt with the baking powder. You'll notice that the yogurt starts to bubble. That's what you want.
Next, pour the yogurt mixture over the semolina, sugar, and butter blend. You'll get a thick batter.
Spread the batter in a baking dish lined with parchment paper and use a spatula to smoothen it out.
Make diamond-shaped cuts across the smoothened batter to make it easier to cut pieces out after baking. Melt a little bit of butter and brush it on the top (this gives the namoura its golden crust).
Then pop it into the oven for around 35-45 minutes at 400 ℉ (205 ℃).
While the namoura bakes, make the syrup. Place the sugar and water on high heat, letting it bubble for a few minutes until it forms a syrupy texture. Remove the simple sugar from the heat, add the lemon juice and orange blossom water. Mix and set aside.
Once the namoura is out of the oven, immediately pour the orange blossom sugar syrup over it and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Tips and Tricks
- Adjust sweetness: I know a lot of people who find Lebanese namoura a bit too sweet. This is because we use sugar in both the batter and the syrup. A trick to avoid making this too sweet is to reduce the amount of sugar you use in the batter. If you like it super sweet, keep the amount of sugar the same as in this recipe. If you prefer a lighter version, halve the amount sugar used in the batter.
- Don't over-bake: Namoura is known for its gooey texture. Over-baking the batter hardens the pieces and prevents the syrup from drenching them properly. Make sure to keep checking on the batter as it bakes and adjust your oven temps accordingly. Before removing the baking dish from the oven, insert a wooden stick or cutlery in the namoura. If they come out clear, you'll know it's done baking.
Substitutions and Variations
- Coconut namoura: Add some unsweetened desiccated coconut to the batter and you'll get a nammoura with a coco-nutty twist.
- Tahini namoura: In Lebanon some people drizzle namoura with a tablespoon or two of tahini. Others like to add tahini to the batter itself.
- Lightened up: For a lighter version of this dessert, halve the sugar used in the batter and replace half the amount of butter used with a flavorless vegetable oil (canola works best).
Store this Lebanese namoura semolina cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. It's not recommended to freeze this recipe.
Pretty much yes! But with a few minor differences. Lebanese namoura is known as basbousa in Egypt and several Middle Eastern countries. The Lebanese version of it doesn't often feature tahini nor honey which are both used in the other versions. Basbousa is made with coarse semolina so it has a different texture than namoura which is made with the fine version of the wheat.
Never. This is a semolina-based dessert. I tried making it with regular cake flour once and it fell flat. So I recommend that you stick to semolina.
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Namoura Syrup-Soaked Semolina Cake
For the Batter
- 3 cups fine semolina
- 1 cup sugar or half for a lighter version
- 20 tablespoon salted butter melted
- 1¼ cups yogurt or Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
For the Sugar Syrup
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- juice of a lemon medium-sized
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water mazaher
- Place the semolina, sugar, and melted butter in a bowl then mix them up really well.
- In a separate bowl, mix the yogurt with the baking powder.
- Pour the yogurt mixture over the semolina, sugar, and butter blend.
- Spread the batter in a baking dish lined with parchment paper and use a spatula to smoothen it out.
- Make diamond-shaped cuts across the smoothened batter to make it easier to cut pieces out after baking.
- Melt a little bit of butter and brush it on the top.
- Place in the oven for around 35-45 minutes at 400 ℉ (200 ℃).
Orange Blossom Sugar Syrup:
- Place the sugar and water on high heat and let them bubble for a few minutes until you get a syrupy texture.
- Remove from heat, add the lemon juice and orange blossom water.
- Mix and drizzle the simple syrup over the namoura the moment it's out of the oven.
- Let the sugar-soaked namoura sit for 30 minutes.
- Reduce the sugar by half (in the semolina batter) for a less sweet version of this namoura semolina cake.
- Another way of reducing the sugar is by pouring the sugar syrup sparingly.