PICTURE: Melina Hammer/The New York Times
Amanda Saab bakes her grandmother’s syrup-soaked namoura cake in preparation for Ramadaan.

Saab's Lebanese grandmother used to make the cake, folding together frothy, aerated yoghurt and semolina flour and now Saab makes it the same way, soaking the cake in a floral-scented sugar syrup while it’s still warm from the oven, and cutting it into diamond-shaped pieces.

Namoura (Syrup-Soaked Semolina Cake- Makes 20-24 Pieces)


For the syrup:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons lavender extract, vanilla extract or rose water

For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more for coating the pan
  • 3 cups semolina flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain full cream yoghurt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds


  1. In a small saucepan over high heat, boil sugar and 1 cup of water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add lemon juice and extract, and stir to combine. 
  3. Simmer until thickened into a syrup, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  5. Heat oven to 200 degrees. Coat a 22-by-33-cm baking dish with butter. 
  6. Place the semolina, melted butter and sugar in a large bowl and stir until well combined; set aside.
  7. Place the yoghurt and baking soda in a medium bowl and stir to combine. 
  8. Set aside until the mixture has nearly doubled in size, about 10 minutes.
  9. Pour the yoghurt mixture over the semolina mixture and mix well to combine. 
  10. Transfer to the buttered baking dish and press into an even layer. 
  11. Using a knife, score the surface of the namoura on the diagonal into 5cm diamond-shaped pieces. 
  12. Top each diamond in the center with an almond. 
  13. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
  14. Place baking dish on a wire rack and drizzle the cooled syrup over the top of the hot namoura. 
  15. Let cool to room temperature before recutting along the scored lines and serving. 

The New York Times