Safra - Aromatic Semolina Dessert

Safra, also called Sefra, is an aromatic semolina dessert from the once thriving Jewish Community of Tripoli, Libya. Rome's cuisine benefitted when the Libyan Jews found refuge in Italy in 1967. Safra is rich in flavour with a honey and orange glazing, giving the almond and sesame seed topping a nice shine. Cut into diamond shapes, it is great served with tea or coffee. Enjoy!


300g semolina

1 egg

100g sugar

50g raisins

100ml water

100ml sunflower/corn/vegetable oil

2 teaspoons baking powder

A pinch of salt

20-25 blanched almonds

Handful of sesame seeds

For the honey glaze:

170ml water

170g sugar

3 tablespoons honey

1 orange, grated zest OR 1 tablespoon orange flower water

You will need a 22x22cm (9in) baking tin, or similar

Serves 10


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 22cm x 22cm baking tin with baking parchment paper. Spread the semolina on an oven tray and toast it in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray half way through. This can be done in the baking oven of an AGA.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the egg, sugar, raisins, water, oil, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Once the semolina has toasted, gently add it to the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and with a knife carve crossed lines so to create diamond shapes. On top of each diamond square lay an almond and spread the sesame seeds all over.

3. Bake for 15 minutes, then take it out from the oven and pass through the lines of the diamond squares again to reinforce the shape. Put back in the oven and cook for another 20-25 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the honey glaze. Warm up the water and sugar in a non-stick saucepan, cook gently for 8-10 minutes mixing occasionally. This can be done on either the simmering or boiling plate of an AGA. Add the honey and orange zest and bring to the boil.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the syrup straight on top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Place back in the oven for a couple of minutes. Take out, leave to cool down and cut again the diamond squares. Arrange the squares on a serving dish and enjoy!

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