Mena Massoud's Basbousa

The actor and cookbook author shares his grandmother’s recipe for this Egyptian coconut crumble cake.

The actor and cookbook author shares his grandmother’s recipe for this Egyptian coconut crumble cake

(Photo credit: Andrew Rowley)

We talked to Mena Massoud about how to successfully reverse-engineer your favourite vegan restaurant meals at home. Check out those secrets from his new cookbook Evolving Vegan here, and this recipe he shared with us too.

Basbousa (Coconut Crumble Cake)

Tip: Start the homemade syrup once the basbousa has gone into the oven, then keep it warm while the cake is baking. This will give you more than enough time to make the syrup.


For the cake

  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing
  • 1 ¼ cups well-shaken canned coconut milk
  • ½ cup cane sugar
  • 1 ½ cups semolina
  • 1 cup unsweetened finely shredded desiccated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup blanched almonds, split in half

For the syrup

  • 1 ½ cups cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice


Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil, coconut milk, and sugar. Add the semolina, shredded coconut, baking powder, and vanilla and gently stir until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish, spreading it out evenly in the pan. Using a sharp knife, score the top of the batter into 1-inch pieces. Place a couple of almonds, split-side down, onto each scored section.

Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar has completely dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice, and keep warm.

When the cake is ready, remove it from the oven and cut it along the scored lines (do not remove the pieces from the pan yet). Pour the warm syrup over the hot cake. Let the cake cool completely in the pan before serving.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Excerpted from Evolving Vegan by Mena Massoud, published by Tiller Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Copyright © 2020 by Evolving Vegan, Inc. All rights reserved. Photo credit: Andrew Rowley

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