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(serves 4-6)
Sugar Syrup 1½ cups sugar (white granulated or superfine golden raw) 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. water 1 Tbs. lemon juice 1 Tbs. orange blossom water 1 Tbs. rose water Cake 1½ cups coarse semolina 1/4 cup fine sugar 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened 1½ cups plain yogurt 1/2 tsp. baking soda 1 Tbs. tahini 1/3 cup blanched almonds
For the Sugar Syrup In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar, water, and lemon juice to a boil, stirring occasionally. Let boil for three to four minutes, then stir in orange blossom and rose water. Boil for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and allow to cool before pouring over cake. Note: You can store syrup in a glass jar with a tight seal for a couple of weeks. For a Middle Eastern lemonade, try this instead of simple syrup. Cake In a bowl, mix semolina, sugar, and butter with hands until well-blended. Add yogurt and baking soda, and mix until batter is firm. Grease a nine-inch, round pan with tahini. Spread batter evenly across pan. Flatten with the back of a spoon. Cover with clean kitchen towel, and let sit for three hours—this allows the dry semolina to absorb the yogurt. Shortly before three hours are up, preheat oven to 400°F. Score the cake into one-inch squares and press one blanched almond into each square. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and pour syrup over the hot cake. Allow to cool before serving, about two hours. Serve with strong, unsweetened black Turkish coffee or black tea.