Shamali cake or semolina cake is one of the most popular desserts in Cyprus. It’s one of the variations basbousa – traditional Middle East sweet cake. For the first time I tried shamali at one of the local fish taverns. It was served with coffee as a compliment from chef. I really liked unusual taste and moist consistency of that cake. Of course, I questioned landlady of tavern about the ingredients.
It turned out that shamali cook from semolina, eggs, butter and sugar. Ready pie is soak over with syrup, contains lemon or orange juice. But, the main secret ingredient that gives the cake a subtle flavor and aroma is mastic – a resin obtained from the mastic tree, traditionally produced on the Greek island Chios. Mastic has a fresh and very pleasant aroma, and gives products very unusual taste. If shamali is baking in the house – the smell is amazing.
Shamali cake video
For Shamali cake batter:
- 2 large eggs, separated whites from yolks
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 300 g (2/3 pound) semolina (fine)
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 100 g (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened at the room temperature
- 2 granules mastic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- A handful of nuts for the top, crushed
- 1 orange or lemon, squeezed juice
- 300 ml (1¼ cup) cold water
- 200 g (1 cup) sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
Let’s get started!!!
- Preheat oven up to 180°С or 356° Butter shallow baking tin. Whisk whites until stiff.
- In a large bowl beat butter with sugar until smooth and creamy. Add yolks, mastic, baking powder and yogurt. Beat well. Put semolina and thoroughly mix. Then gently fold in the egg whites. Place batter into a baking tin. Sprinkle with crushed nuts and put in the oven. Bake 30-40 minutes until evenly golden. Check readiness of shamali with dry wooden skewer.
- While cake is baking make syrup. In a medium stew-pot mix water and sugar. Heat mix on a medium heat until sugar is melted. Add orange juice and cinnamon stick. Cook about 5-10 minutes, constantly stirring. Lightly cool down and drain.
- When shamali is cooked, leave it in the baking tin and pierce evenly all over with wooden skewer. Then soak over with syrup. Leave cake to rest for 10-15 minutes, until it absorb all syrup. Serve shamali cake with tea or coffee.