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Eat Cake and Celebrate: Just Try Not to Get the Glass Ceiling Shards in Your Basbousa

Something big happened in Saudi Arabia and we’re baking a cake to celebrate!

To kick off our Celebration Cakes series (just in time for International Women’s Day on March 8th), we’re baking basbousa, a coconutty, semolina-based cake from the Middle East, to celebrate Somayya Jabarti, who just became Saudi Arabia’s first female editor-in-chief of a national newspaper!


Image courtesy of the Saudi Gazette.

Saudi Arabia still leaves a lot to be desired in their treatment of women (and other humans), like it’s still illegal for Saudi women to drive, and they are essentially treated like minors their whole lives. (Check out this funny-but-not-funny video from Amnesty International to get the lowdown.)   However, in the quest for more equitable status, this victory, while small in the scope of things, is still a step in the right direction.

“There’s a crack that has been made in the glass ceiling. And I’m hoping it will be made into a door.”

-Somayya Jabarti

Celebrate this milestone with us! Check out our video and see full details in the recipe below.

Enjoy this cake with a refreshing beverage, friends, and a stimulating conversation about human rights.

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Basbousa Recipe

This recipe comes from some of my Egyptian family members, though basbousa in several variations can be found in many Middle Eastern countries. I substituted coconut milk for cow’s milk, and it worked well, but you can use regular milk if you prefer. Chopped pistachios would also be a lovely alternative to the almonds.

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  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds (or pistachios)


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, shredded coconut, and baking powder.
  3. Stir in the yogurt and coconut milk and stir well until it becomes a moist dough. (You may add more coconut milk if you find that it’s too dry, but you don’t want the dough to become runny.)
  4. Add dough to greased baking dish and spread evenly.
  5. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the top of the dough.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top becomes golden brown.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze, by combining the water, sugar, and lemon juice into a small saucepan over medium heat.
  8. Bring this mixture to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. When the basbousa becomes golden brown, remove from oven and pour sugar mixture onto the cake.
  10. Bake for another 5 minutes, then remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes.

The dough should be spreadable like this, not pourable like other cake batter.

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Here is the nice golden brown look it will get when it’s done. We added a DF for Domestic Feminist because we just couldn’t help ourselves.


Fun gift idea

My cousin Kelsey made me this homemade mix of the dry ingredients in a mason jar along with instructions – a great idea for how to give this dessert as a gift! Thanks cuz!



This post Eat Cake and Celebrate: Just Try Not to Get the Glass Ceiling Shards in Your Basbousa, written by Juliana Brafa, appeared first on DomesticFeminist.com.

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