Recipe: Sfoof! (Turmeric and semolina cake)

Having been delighted at the flavour (not to mention the name) of the extremely yellow sfoof I tried yesterday, I went in search of a recipe.  The one I found was in The Arab Table, by May Bsisu.  Looking at the ingredients, it didn’t contain the fennel seeds or the orange flower water that I remember tasting, so I adjusted the recipe accordingly.  On cooking, the flavour was about right, but it was a denser, more crumbly cake than the original model, and much more orange than yellow.  I suspect the latter is because I used raw caster sugar instead of white, and the former is a result of the high proportion of semolina to flour in the cake.  For a fluffier version, you could use 1 1/2 cups of flour and only 1/2 a cup of semolina, but I actually like it as it stands.

Incidentally, I have no idea why I captioned the pictures the way I did.  Yet another mystery that will remain unsolved…

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2 tbsp tahini, approx
1 cup flour
1 cup semolina
1 tbsp (the Aussie kind – 20ml) turmeric
2 tsp fennel seeds, ground
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar (castor or raw castor)
3/4 cup milk
90 ml canola oil
1 tsp orange flower water, or more, to taste
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp pine nuts (approx)

Now what will you do with it?

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Use the tahini to grease a non-stick 20cm square tin (Yes, this is odd.  Interestingly, the tahini doesn’t stick to the cake, but does leave a faint sesame flavour in its wake).

Quick! wipe away the fingerprints before the police arrive!

Whisk together the milk, oil, sugar, orange flower water and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, semolina, turmeric, fennel seeds and baking powder.

Fingerprint powder, or semolina mixed with spices? You decide…

Pour milk mixture into the semolina mixture, and mix well.

Turmeric was implicated in this case of batter(y) – or is it all a terrible mix-up?

Pour into the greased tin, sprinkle with pine nuts, and bake at 180°C for about 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through.

Last known photo of the victim before the Oven Incident.  Relatives say that he was in a cheerful frame of mind, and talking about ‘a golden opportunity’.

Cool in tin, then turn out and cut into chunks to eat.  This is especially nice with a glass of milk.


The original version doesn’t have the fennel seed or orange flower water, so you could try it that way.  This is also the sort of cake that would be just lovely with a syrup poured over it – orange flower water or orange zest would flavour it nicely.  If you have problems with nuts, I’d grease the tin with butter or oil instead of tahini, and leave off the pine nuts (it will be fine without them).  And, of course, since this cake has no eggs, you could easily veganise it with soy milk.

Doing it too brown? Police believe that the perpetrator of this horrific kitchen event is more than slightly nuts.

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7 comments for “Recipe: Sfoof! (Turmeric and semolina cake)

  1. Pamela Dean
    July 27, 2011 at 4:12 am

    I think you captioned the photos that way because it was funny. Possibly nobody else thinks so.

    When I read the ingredients, I thought, Oh, I’ve had this. But I haven’t. The recipe I was thinking of is a Greek cake for Lent that uses tahini in place of eggs and milk, and of course uses more of it. It has raisins rather than pine nuts. And no tumeric. Now I want to mess with it.


    • July 27, 2011 at 9:03 am

      I’m glad you liked the captions – and I’m fascinated by this Lenten cake of yours. I’ll have to look out for it.

  2. September 9, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Love this recipe! So delicious in the morning with coffee. I never would have guessed it would be so good!

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