Helbeh (Fenugreek Semolina Cake)


Helbeh (Fenugreek Semolina Cake)

Helbeh (Fenugreek Semolina Cake). Forget your usual go-to cake and try this traditional Palestinian cake. The aromatic flavours are sure to make it  crowd-pleaser. 

Helbeh (Fenugreek Semolina Cake)

Serves 16


2 tbsp fenugreek seeds

1 1⁄2 cups (250g) fine semolina

1⁄4 cup plain flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1⁄4 tsp table salt

2 tbsp light olive oil

40g unsalted butter, melted

1⁄2 tsp dried yeast

1⁄2 tsp caster sugar

1⁄4 tsp baking powder

Approximately 30 almonds

Lemon Syrup 

1 cup caster sugar

1 strip lemon peel

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp orange blossom water



  1. Place the fenugreek seeds and 400ml water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the fenugreek seeds are plump. Strain with a sieve, ensuring you reserve the liquid and the fenugreek seeds separately. Allow the liquid to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, place the semolina, plain flour, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the oil and melted butter and gently mix to combine.
  3. Place 1⁄4 cup of the fenugreek liquid in a small bowl, then add the yeast and sugar and mix to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes or until foamy on the surface. Add the yeast mixture and fenugreek seeds to the semolina and mix to combine. Add the baking powder and the remaining fenugreek liquid and mix to combine. Mix the dough until smooth.
  4. Lightly grease a 24cm springform cake tin, and then line with baking paper. Spoon the dough into the tin and gently smooth the surface. Using a small, sharp knife, score the surface at diagonals, with approximately 4cm intervals, to create a diamond pattern. Place an almond in the centre of each diamond.
  5. Loosely cover the cake with a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan forced). Place the cake in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  7. While the cake is baking, make the lemon syrup. Place the caster sugar, lemon peel and lemon juice in a small saucepan with 80ml water. Place over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat to high. Bring to the boil and then take off the heat. Add the orange blossom water and stir to combine.
  8. Once baked, take the cake out of the oven and place on a tray. Drizzle the lemon syrup slowly over the hot cake, adding more once absorbed. Set the cake aside to cool completely.


Tip: This cake is best made the day before serving to allow the syrup to soak in. It can also be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


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