Lebanese Sfouf


Sfouf is a sweet almond cake from Lebanon which is just a simple yellow cake but not your typical American version. You get a nutty taste from the tahini, grit from the semolina and kick from turmeric. Traditionally qashta is not used and if you do not want to use it or have it you can substitute with a bit more milk. I like to use it because the sfouf comes out so moist. You could probably use yogurt or sweetened condensed milk as well (just be sure to cut back on the sugar with that last one if you do.).

I bake mine in a 6-inch silicone baking pan and it slides out easily. Sfof is also cut and served in triangles and some people use pine nuts on top but almonds are good in my book. And of course serve some mint tea along side your pretty yellow cake. Hey is it just me or does tea always taste better served in Arabic cups?

1 tablespoon tahini
12 tablespoons fine semolina
4 tablespoons cornmeal (or course semolina)
8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tin (155 grams) qashta
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup crushed almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 6-inch cake pan with the tahini.

2. In a mixing bowl add semolina, cornmeal, flour, sugar, turmeric, salt and baking powder, mix well. Add qashta, oil and milk, mix. Carefully sprinkle almonds on top and place in the oven. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Yields: 1 6-inch cake

3. Carefully pour mixture into pan making sure the top is level.

Little Carrot Cake


The first time I had carrot cake was at Morton’s Steakhouse in Chicago. I had never tried carrot cake because I thought it would not taste good plus it was not a dessert that was ever made in my house growing up. I had just finished having dinner with my friends and I saw a huge cake on display in a stand on the bar and it looked delicious. That was my first time having carrot cake and also the best one I have ever tried. If you ever eat at Morton’s try the carrot cake.

My husband’s favorite cake just happens to be carrot cake and since we have a small family you all know I like to make small batch sweets. A 6 inch round cake pan is perfect for small batch baking and is just enough for my little family. My son Talal loves to help me bake and is getting quite good at it. I measure everything out and he adds it I the bowl when I tell him. This was a really simple cake to make and it tasted great, it’s a keeper for sure.

1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup packed grated carrot
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

3 ounce block of cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

1. Grease a 6” round cake pan with shortening. Preheat the oven to 350°.

2. In a medium bowl, beat together with an electric mixer the oil and sugar. Beat very well, about 1 minute.

3. Add the egg, cinnamon and vanilla and beat another 30 seconds. Beat in the carrot for about 15 seconds–you want it to break up a bit so it stains the batter orange. Sprinkle the flour and baking powder on top and beat until just combined. Do not over mix. You may stir in the walnuts at this point or save them for the frosting, your choice.

4. Pour the batter into the pan, place it on a baking sheet, and bake for 24-26 minutes. Test with a toothpick before removing from the oven–moist crumbs clinging to the toothpick is ideal.

5. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before attempting to frost it.

6. To make the frosting, ensure all ingredients are room temperature or you will end up with lumps. Beat together everything with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Tip the cake out of the pan, place it on a serving plate upside down (so that you have a flat surface on top) and spread the frosting on the cake. Garnish with walnuts. Cover and place in refrigerator until serving time.

Yields: 1 (6 inch) cake

Adapted from Dessert For Two



Years ago when I first came to Saudi I was at a shop and came across a very old poorly made recipe book. The instructions and recipes are kind of hard to read like most recipe books you find that come from Saudi they do not have exact instructions or measurements and sometimes the names are really off and although they say one thing it sounds and should be spelled an entirely different way. I usually talk to my mother in law to make sure everything is correct so I can share it here with you all but she happens to be out of town for the Summer so I am just going to go with it and post it here hoping that the name is right as written.

This cake is a Saudi yogurt cake and what I really love about it the most is that it does not have any sugar incorporated into it. I was worried that it would be sour with the yogurt and no sugar but the sugar syrup on top was just perfect. My husband loathes super sweet desserts and he really loved this one as in he has already ate half. I especially love that it has black seeds in it which is a sure sign its a Saudi dish.

In Islam we have a hadith that says:

“Use this Black Seed regularly, because it is a cure for every disease, except death.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

1 cup all purpose flour
6 eggs
2 cups plain yogurt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon black seeds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar syrup

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl add eggs and yogurt. With a hand-mixer mix well. Add vanilla and black seed, mix. Sift flour into bowl, add baking powder and mix.

2. Grease a 30 cm round baking pan (I used 2 loaf pans). And fold the batter into the pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

3. Remove from heat and carefully pour syrup on top (use as much as you like) and allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Yields: 1 30cm or 2 loaf cakes

  • Did you know that black seed was found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. This suggest that black seed had an important role in ancient Egypt, since it was customary to place in tombs items needed in the afterlife.

Kentucky Butter Cake


When I saw this recipe floating around Pinterest I just knew I had to make it. I cannot say I was always a big fan of bundt cakes because when you’re a kid you just kind of think of them as old people cakes. I mean a cake without frosting? I have came to appreciate bundt cakes and now even look at them as rather classy. The thing about a good bundt cake is that it’s so amazing you do not need all that frosting on top. Just a sprinkle of sugar and maybe some fresh fruit and there you have it.

This cake is so moist hence it being a butter cake after all. My husband says that Southerners are obsessed with butter and he’s right we are. My mom has a picture of me as kid sitting on the kitchen counter eating out of the Blue Bonnet tub. But hey I did not remember Arabs being that healthy did you?

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
Powdered sugar, for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan.

2. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Add in the buttermilk butter, vanilla, and eggs. Beat for three minutes at medium speed. Pour the batter into the bundt pan.

3. Bake for 60 minutes or until an inserted tester comes out clean. Allow cake to cool, remove from pan and place on cake platter then sprinkle powdered sugar on top.

Yields: 1 cake

adapted from simmer and shoot