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Libyan Safra for Purim

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Photograph: Kay Lockett
Photograph: Kay Lockett

    Safra, also called sefra, is an aromatic semolina dessert from the Jewish community of Tripoli, Libya, and a fun Purim treat. Rome’s cuisine benefited when the Libyan Jews found refuge in Italy in 1967. The honey and orange glazing give a rich flavour and adds a lovely sheen to the almond and sesame seed topping.

    Preparation time: 50 minutes
    Makes 20 approx

    INGREDIENTS
    300g semolina
    1 egg
    100g sugar
    50g raisins
    100ml water
    100ml sunflower/corn/vegetable oil
    2 tsp baking powder
    Pinch of salt
    20-25 blanched almonds
    Handful of sesame seeds

    For the honey glaze:
    150ml water
    150g sugar
    3 tbsp honey
    Zest of 1 orange or 1tbsp orange water

    METHOD

    Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a 22x22cm square (or similar volume round or rectangular) oven dish with baking parchment.

    Spread the semolina on an oven tray and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray after 5 minutes.

    Meanwhile, mix the egg, sugar, raisins, water, oil, baking powder and salt. Gently fold in the toasted semolina.

    Pour in the mixture and with a knife mark diamond shapes by crossing lines. Place an almond on top of each diamond square. Sprinkle the sesame seeds all over.

    Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and mark the diamond lines again with a knife. Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, prepare the honey glaze. Gently heat the water and sugar in a non-stick saucepan for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally. When the sugar has dissolved, add the honey and orange zest. Bring to the boil then turn off the heat.

    As soon as the cake is ready, pour over the glaze and return to the oven for a couple of minutes.

    Remove, cool completely then cut the diamond squares.

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