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Tishpishti (Citrus Semolina Cake)

Tishpishti (Citrus Semolina Cake) 8.000

Laura Chase de Formigny; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Sep 11, 2020

Syrup-soaked semolina cakes are common throughout Sephardi, Middle Eastern and North African Jewish cuisine. They are typically served on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and they are a staple of the Shabbat table and on Passover as well (when made with all nut flour instead of semolina). There are many iterations of the cake and varying names — tishpishti, basbousa, revani, safra, hareesa or namoura — depending on where it is being baked. The most delicious versions are made with butter and yogurt, which offset the sweetness of the sticky sugar syrup ladled on top of the warm cake. Those who prefer a dairy-free cake can substitute high quality vegan butter and unsweetened coconut yogurt.

Storage Notes: The syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Where to Buy: Orange blossom water can be found at Middle Eastern markets or online.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8 servings

  • For the syrup
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) water
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
  • For the cake
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) full-fat plain yogurt (may substitute unsweetened coconut yogurt)
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/115 grams) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled (may substitute vegan butter)
  • 1/3 cup (80 milliliters) fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 cups (360 grams) fine semolina or semolina flour
  • 1/3 cup (15 grams) finely shredded unsweetened dried coconut
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for serving
  • Finely chopped toasted pistachios, for serving


Make the syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the syrup thickens slightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange juice and orange blossom water, if using. Let cool completely.

Make the cake: Position a baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Cut two long rectangles of parchment paper and line a 9-inch round cake pan with it, criss-crossing in the middle, ensuring there is generous overhang on all 4 sides.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, butter, orange juice and zest until well combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the semolina, coconut, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and gently fold together until fully incorporated. Transfer the batter to the parchment-lined pan, smooth the top over with an offset spatula and let the batter stand for about 5 minutes to let the semolina absorb some of the liquid.

Place the cake pan in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until set and lightly golden around the edges (a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean).

Transfer the cake in the pan to a wire rack and let cool for a few minutes. Using a fork or a skewer, poke holes across the surface of the cake. While the cake is still hot, slowly drizzle 1 cup (240 milliliters) syrup evenly over the top. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then drizzle another 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) syrup. (Reserve the remaining syrup for serving.)

Let the cake cool to room temperature, then grasp the parchment overhang and gently lift the cake out of the pan and transfer it to a serving plate.

When ready to serve, lightly dust with the confectioners’ sugar, sprinkle with the pistachios and cut into squares or diamonds.

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Recipe Source

From food writer Leah Koenig.

Tested by Olga Massov.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (with all the syrup): 468

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 14g 22%

Saturated Fat: 9g 45%

Cholesterol: 31mg 10%

Sodium: 166mg 7%

Total Carbohydrates: 80g 27%

Dietary Fiber: 3g 12%

Sugar: 46g

Protein: 6g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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