This cake is arguably the most well-known in North Africa and the Middle East and has countless variations. A semolina cake is baked with dried coconut and sweetened condensed milk then soaked in a fragrant lemony syrup with orange blossom and rose waters added after baking. The candied rose petal garnish is optional; you can also simply sprinkle the toasted coconut over the cake, but if you are going make this delicious cake, be sure to ask your florist for organic roses, which aren’t sprayed with chemicals or pesticides.
Preheat the oven to 190C.
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar with the lemon zest and juice, the orange blossom and rose waters and 2 cups water, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until slightly reduced: about 15 mins.
Remove the syrup from the heat.
Pour through a fine sieve to remove the zest, and let cool completely.
Lightly grease and flour a 23-centimetre springform cake tin and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the semolina with 3⁄4 of the cup of coconut, baking powder and salt until evenly combined.
In a large bowl, whisk the sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup of vegetable oil, the vanilla and 2 eggs until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean: about 30 mins.
Transfer the cake to a rack over or set in a tray.
Drizzle half the cooled syrup over the cake and let it stand until the syrup is absorbed: about 30 mins.
Pour the remaining syrup over the cake and leave to cool completely.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy.
Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the rose petals in egg white and immediately dredge in icing sugar until well coated.
Transfer the rose petals to a parchment paper-lined baking tray and leave to dry at room temperature for at least 4 hours.
When ready to serve, unmould the cake and transfer to a cake stand or plate.
Arrange the rose petals in concentric circles over the top.
In a dry small frying pan on a medium heat, toast the remaining coconut until lightly browned and fragrant: about 3 mins.
Transfer the coconut to a bowl and leave to cool.
When ready to serve, sprinkle the toasted coconut over the rose petals and cake and serve with thick yogurt or ice cream.
1 cup caster sugar
2 lemons, zested
1⁄2 cup fresh lemon juice
1⁄4 cup Al Rahib orange blossom water
2 tablespoons Al Rahib rose water
1 cup vegetable oil, plus extra
Plain flour for dusting
21⁄2 cups fine semolina
1 cup desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
395-gram tin sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg white
Petals from 2 organic pink roses
1 cup icing sugar