Lemon and Almond Basbousa Cake

A lot of food bloggers dream of compiling all their recipes into a published book.  Alice Phillips from Ally’s Kitchen is one blogger who has turned that dream into a reality.  Recently launched, her cookbook, Ally’s Cookbook – A Passport for Adventurous Palates is currently being reviewed by food bloggers all around the world.

Flavoured with lavender

Flavoured with lavender

I was introduced to Ally’s cookbook by my cyber friend, Kim Bultman who has a blog I’ve been following for a few years now, A Little Lunch.  Kim edited Ally’s cookbook and has done an amazing job especially considering during that time she tragically lost her home in a devastating fire.

Mixed by hand in one bowl

Mixed by hand in one bowl

Editing isn’t an easy job and despite the battles of her own personal circumstances, Kim has done an outstanding job.  Ally has said to Kim in her tributes and acknowledgements, ‘for your many imaginative ideas and creative contributions to this cookbook far beyond the editing process, I’m eternally grateful’.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Ally, (Alice) and her husband are keen travellers and a lot of the reason they love to travel is so they can experience the cuisines of the countries they visit.  This love for travel and food has become the theme behind the cookbook with the index being organised into global regions.



What I love about the cookbook is Ally’s kitchen philosophy.  She says, ‘Dive in and get your hands dirty and let there be splatters, spills, and glorious smudges of goodness!  Food, like life, isn’t perfect ~ it’s about encouraging your inner child to play in the kitchen and not being afraid to take chances with flavours, textures, and unexpected combinations’.  What a great philosophy for your kitchen.

Decorated with Lemon and Almond Basbousa cake

Decorated with Lemon and Almond Basbousa cake

Ally’s cookbook is not a lightweight book; it’s 240 pages and for me, it hasn’t been a cookbook I’ve taken straight to the kitchen.  Along with the recipes and the gorgeous photography there are mentions of Ally’s travel adventures and I found this is a book I’ve enjoyed reading while reclining on a comfy lounge chair.

Middle Eastern cake

Middle Eastern cake

One of the chapters that interested me greatly is the chapter, ‘Middle Eastern Allure’.  I loved the story of how Ally came to be given the recipe for the Lemon and Almond Basbousa Cake.  An Algerian woman named Nanou started commenting on Ally’s recipes when they were posted on her facebook page and from there a friendship developed.  Nanou was commenting all the way from Europe where she now lives with her Italian husband.

A dessert cake

A dessert cake

Apparently this basbousa is a dessert that is served throughout the Middle East and there are a number of variations.  I really wanted to make this using lavender water however I wasn’t able to source a drop of it.  I substituted rose water and Ally says you can also use almond or vanilla extract.

Drizzle with rosewater syrup

Drizzle with rosewater syrup

The other ingredient I couldn’t find was lemon flavoured Greek yoghurt.  Not something I’ve ever seen in Oz.  I used plain Greek yoghurt but added a little extra lemon oil to the cake batter.


Afternoon tea?

The cake is very simple to make and is mixed by hand in just one bowl so there’s no equipment to clean and put away and very little mess as well – excellent!

Light and creamy

Light and creamy

Because of the high volume of yoghurt, the cake has a very moist and creamy texture.  It makes a wonderful dessert cake as it is a little like eating a light ricotta cheesecake.  The lemon and rosewater flavours are very pronounced and I enjoyed the texture and crunch from the toasted flaked almonds.

Serves 10

Serves 10

I know there are people who don’t like rosewater but I don’t mind it and the rosewater syrup is wonderful poured over this cake.  An alternative to adding rosewater to the syrup is to use almond extract or vanilla essence.

Flavoured with lavender

Flavoured with lavender

I served each slice of cake with a dollop of double cream mixed with equal amounts of creme fraiche and a little sprinkle of lavender petals.

I would like to make this cake again using lavender water.

5.0 from 8 reviews
Lemon and Almond Basbousa
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
A lemon and almond Middle Eastern cake that's drenched in a sugar syrup and sprinkled with lavender petals.
  • cooking spray
  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 1 (6-oz.) container lemon Greek yogurt (170mls)
  • 1¼ cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 3 tsp. lavender water or rose water (or substitute vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp. pure lemon extract
  • 1⁄3 cup milk
  • 2⁄3 cup sliced almond
  • For the Syrup:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. rose or lavender water (or substitute vanilla or almond extract)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C (350F).
  2. Grease and line a 22cm round spring-form pan with baking paper.
  3. Combine rice flour, lemon yogurt, egg, plain yogurt, sugar, butter, baking powder, baking soda, lavender or rose water (or vanilla extract), lemon extract, and milk in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together gently and thoroughly. The batter will be relatively thick, like the consistency of prepackaged spreadable icing or whipped cream cheese.
  4. Spread batter in prepared pan and sprinkle the sliced almonds on top. Gently pat the almonds onto the batter with a spatula. Bake 40–45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the simple syrup.
  5. Combine the sugar, water, and rose or lavender water (or vanilla or almond extract) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture will gradually thicken. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour some of the warm syrup on each piece of cake before serving.

If you would like to read additional reviews of Ally’s cookbook, click here.

From Ally's Kitchen Cookbook

From Ally’s Kitchen Cookbook

Here’s Ally’s promotional video for her cookbook, A Passport for Adventurous Palates.


  1. I was so very happy and excited for Ally! I have not seen her cookbook but would love to see her beautiful photography and read her stories. I love this cake and your beautiful photography and the addition of lavender water sounds lovely. Love that pour shot! Sharing and pinning!

  2. What a gorgeous cake!!

  3. I love cookbooks that include personal stories! If this beautiful cake is representative of other recipes in the book I’m going to be interested in a copy. 🙂

  4. WOAH! What an amazing cake, I heart the bajinkas out of the blue plate, whats that print called again? I reckon my ever growing food photo prop cupboard needs a platter with that print, for the blog of course. 🙂

    Looks like a gorgeous cookbook, love that it includes stories of travel, that personal touch really makes a cookbook I reckon.

  5. Such a beautiful cake, Charlie, thanks for the intro to Ally.

  6. What a stunning cake! I’d love to make that one day 😀 The texture looks gorgeous and hubby doesn’t like dry cakes so I think he’d really like this 🙂

  7. I read about this book on a couple of blogs including Kim’s. Sounds fascinating! And doesn’t Ally have an interesting accent?:)

  8. This sounds like a lovely cook book, food inspired by travel is always so exciting. Love your cake and fab photos. GG

  9. It looks beautiful, even though the sugar means it’s not for me. I’m sure the flavours are very fragrant though.

  10. A stunner of a cake! You had me at one bowl 😉 I haven’t seen lavender water either but it sounds lovely.

  11. Looks Delish! Lavender honey slightly warmed could be a nice substitute for syrup.

  12. pamela.hayward7650@gmail.com says:

    Love the look of this cake….and book too!

  13. the cake looks so gorgeous – I have culinary lavender in my cupboard that I hardly use but I wonder if using this would give the hints of lavender that the water gives – also have never seen lemon yoghurt – so many ingredients out there and so little time!

  14. This sounds like a wonderful cookbook and the cake looks absolutely gorgeous (aided by your beautiful photos). I bet the flavours are fantastic and it does look perfect for dessert or a special afternoon tea.

  15. Charlie, I absolutely LOVE your basbousa photos — from mixing bowl to serving plate — and I wantonly and vicariously inhaled them all! Gorgeous cake and lovely review… and thanks for the kind mentions, xoxo.

  16. What a lovely presentation. The basbousa recipes I’ve seen in the past have been of the bar form with a single almond on each slice as decoration. This is elegant enough for the most discriminating company.

  17. Looks like Ally (and Kim) did a marvelous job with this cookbook! This cake looks magnificent—the texture is divine and that topping so perfect! I’m suddenly craving cake!

  18. Oh Charlie this cake is fantastic! I love Ally’s cookbook too and now I wish I’d chosen this cake to make. 🙂 What beautiful photography!

  19. This looks absolutely delicious Charlie and love your photography!
    What a great cookbook and SO happy for Ally!
    What a great achievement to turn a dream into reality!
    Wish I could try it right now!

  20. Oh, so my kind of cake right from the easy method to the flavours – I need to look out for Ally’s book because I see it mentioned and review all over – thanks for sharing. And please the lamb and celeriac was enjoyed.

  21. This cake looks picture perfect and divine. I love tea cakes like this and definitely am craving a slice now!

  22. Your cake is beautifully presented and photographed! I absolutely love the texture of yoghurt based cakes and the combination of lemon and rosewater. I’ll be sure to check out the cookbook and Ally and Kim’s blogs too! xx

  23. What a gorgeous looking cake. And I love the story behind how the recipe came about. But really you had me as soon as you mentioned double cream on the side 🙂

  24. You did a beautiful job with this cake! It’s a work of art. It would look divine on a spring or Easter table. Just beautiful. And Ally’s philosophies are easily some that I take to heart. Thanks for the introduction!

  25. I have only heard of this cake, not tried or even made it yet. Charlie, yours look perfect and I love love love all the ingredients in the cake. Thanks for introducing Ally too and her book, I can’t wait to get a hold of the 240 page book.

  26. That cookbook sounds absolutely lovely!! And if this cake is representative of the gems within it then…I must get it!

  27. This cookbook, and the collaboration behind it, sounds wonderful. Your take on the cake is beautiful. 🙂

  28. This looks almost too beautiful to eat. I had no idea rosewater could be consumed.

  29. It sounds like a great book from the reviews I have read Charlie and if all the recipes turn out as perfect as yours then worth reading ( of course I know its just that you are an excellent cook)

  30. Charlie, you’ve done a terrific job with this cake! Your blogging friend must be so happy with your review and your photos too. I am continual amazed by the friendships that I have made via these blogs. I love the window into each other’s lives and I love the cookbooks that I’ve picked up along the way.

  31. What a professionally done video, I really love it. You’ve inspired me to head over to Ali’s blog to check it out, thank you. Almond and lemon is a HUGE favourite at our home and I’m certain to try this recipe. Have you considered to use lavender oil or essence instead of lavender water? What about lavender tea? I found this http://www.cotswoldlavender.co.uk/lavender-cooking-essence-flavour-baking-cotswold?filter_name=lavender%20water. I’ll ask my dear friend Barb to check for it at her local Middle Eastern Store next time she’s there, I’d love to try this cake (but I don’t really care for rose water, too perfumey for my taste).

  32. sweet pictures of the cake Charlie. They look gorgeous, perfect cake for afternoon tea…or breakfast.

  33. I’ve never had basbousa before – the testure of it is wonderful! I am so intrigued by this book though – it isn’t often you come across a book that is “part cookbook, part memoir, part family, part films”!

  34. I’ve never tried a Basbousa before so I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. It looks divine and your photos look fantastic!

  35. I’m always impressed with bloggers publishing cookbook(s). It’s a lot of work and it’s amazing to see dedication of their time and energy for it. Ally’s cookbook looks beautiful! How wonderful to know that Kim was the editor’s of the book. Bloggers’ circle and friendship is also amazing. This cake looks superb, Charlie! It’s my kind of cake with a cup of earl grey…

  36. What a gorgeous looking cake. I love rose water and didn’t even know that lavender water was a thing – I’ve never seen it.

  37. Your cake is gorgeous! What a presentation. She had such a good idea doing a video to promote her cookbook. After seeing that, I will definitely be buying it! 🙂

  38. That is one gorgeous cake and the photos are exceptional! Your post makes me want to buy Ally’s book!

  39. I have lavender ready to go, and I have been wanting to make this recipe!!! Ally’s cookbook is so beautiful, I love that you made this recipe! Your cake looks AMAZING!!! Sorry I haven’t popped in lately, my life got a little insane, now that I’m writing romance. I miss seeing all your vacations, and updates on how your kids are doing. I hope everyone is doing well! Sending hugs your way, Terra


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