Sfouf is an exquisite Lebanese semolina turmeric cake. This recipe uses fine semolina, sugar, flour, milk, and aromatic turmeric in lieu of traditional Curcuma powder. Sfouf is one of those desserts that's always on the side of a good cup of Arabic coffee or cardamom tea.
What I Love About This Recipe
The feeling of comfort and home that it brings when it's served for early morning gatherings or afternoon tea. Its smell is enough to bring back beautiful childhood memories and time spent with loved ones.
- Semolina: Goes without saying that this is the key ingredient of sfouf. I use fine semolina for this recipe to keep the cake's texture perfect. Avoid using coarse semolina in this one.
- Flour: Semolina blends with all-purpose flour to make this cake fluffy and gorgeous.
- Sugar: Adds sweetness and beautifully contrasts the turmeric.
- Oil: I use canola oil but any vegetable oil that's not strong on flavor works here too.
- Milk: I recommend using cow's milk for this recipe with any type of fat content, so fat-free, whole-fat, and reduced-fat milk works.
- Baking powder: Helps leaven the sfouf and adds volume.
- Blanched almond halves/pine nuts: These are totally optional but are amazing on top of the sfouf.
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Sfouf
Preheat the oven to 350 ℉ (177 ℃). Measure out all of the ingredients. Add the semolina, flour, baking powder, salt, and turmeric to the same bowl.
Add the milk and oil to the dry ingredients.
Mix everything really well until you get a blended batter.
Pour the batter into a parchment paper-lined 9-inch square baking tin. Place the baking tin into a pre-heated oven. Bake at 350 ℉ (177 ℃) for 35 to 45 minutes, or once a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Tips and Tricks
- Measure out the ingredients: This is super important to ensure that you get the perfect texture.
- Preheat the oven: The sfouf cake batter is quick to make, so preheat the oven. This will speed things up a bit.
- Cool it down: Don't cut the sfouf cake into pieces before you give it some time to cool down so that it doesn't come apart.
Variations and Substitutions
- Tahini sfouf: In Lebanon, many people add tahini to the sfouf recipe or drizzle it over the cake once it's out of the oven.
- Anise/cardamom sfouf: I sometimes add a teaspoon or two of ground anise seeds to the batter and the taste comes out heavenly. Some people I know also use cardamom to give sfouf a unique flavor.
- Nutty Sfouf: You can add some chopped almonds or pine nuts to the batter to get some crunch in your cake.
- Vegan Sfouf: Christians in Lebanon created a vegan version of sfouf to enjoy during lent season. This vegan sfouf basically omits the milk and replaces it with water. I tried this version once and I can tell you it's oh-so delicious.
- Carob Molasses Sfouf: This is one of my mother's favorites and to make it we simply replace the milk with a cup of carob molasses or "debbes."
- Measuring cups to measure out the ingredients
- Square 9 inch baking dish to bake the turmeric cake
- Parchment paper to line the 9" baking dish
- Wire hand whisk to mix the turmeric cake batter in a large glass bowl
Sfouf cake is known to last for up to a week if stored in an airtight container at room temperature (during cooler months).
Sfouf lasts for around 10 days if stored in the fridge. I personally store sfouf in an airtight container in the fridge rather than at room temperature especially when I make it in the summer. This turmeric cake doesn't freeze well so I would avoid placing it in the freezer.
Semolina cannot be replaced in this recipe because it's what gives the cake its texture.
Curcumin is often extracted from turmeric. Turmeric spice is made from dried and ground turmeric root.
This cake is on the lighter side compared to other baked desserts, especially if you lighten it up. That said, it still contains sugar, oil, and flour, so consume it in moderation, but enjoy every morsel!