A rose by any other name…..

Growing up in sleepy cantonment towns all over India, with no decent shows on TV and no Internet, (and no social life to speak of), libraries were my favourite hang out joints.

Cookbooks were few and far between. And Martha Stewart and Nigella Lawson yet to make their names and fortunes. But my mom’s Anglo Indian and Goan friends who baked, gave us treasured family recipes– handwritten in ancient, stained and dog-eared notebooks. Notebooks which, when you opened them, recipes scrawled on pieces of paper, fluttered out like groggy butterflies breaking out of their cocoons.

One of those many, jealously-hoarded recipes that I remember making repeatedly, was for a delicious though nameless, cake made of rose water, coconut and semolina. It’s strange that I loved it so much, because I don’t much like coconut in a dessert!

Last week I was reminded of that cake (the recipe for which was lost decades ago) by Brooke. Go check out her recipe for a coconut pound cake. Brooke has brilliantly married the flavours of coconut and pineapple in a cake that resonates of Far from Eternity, Oahu, luaus and leis. (That’s the extent of my knowledge of Hawaii).

But getting back to my cake, when I googled coconut and semolina cake, I was lead to a fabulous blog by Nik . And I had rediscovered Mrs. Fialho’s coconut cake of my youth!

According to Nik, this is the Goan “Baath” cake. And while my cake looks homely and rustic, it tastes divine! There is the lovely texture of semolina, a hint of coconut milk and the gentle fragrance of rose water.


3 cups semolina flour
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup rose water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt

* Line a square 8×8 inch baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to size. Spray the sheet and pan with a neutral cooking oil spray.

* Cream the butter, eggs, sugar and rose water till fluffy using an electric mixer. Add the coconut milk.

* Fold in the semolina, salt, baking powder and desiccated coconut. Then mix for another 2 minutes with the mixer until all the ingredients are combined.

* Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Seal the pan with cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight.

* The cake batter will have set by this point. Bake the cake for 40 minutes in the center of the middle rack of an oven that is preheated to 350F.

* The cake is done when it gets golden brown on the surface or when a knife comes out clean from the center. Allow to cool in the baking pan, serve warm or chilled with tea or coffee.

Baking powder, rose water, semolina, eggs, butter, coconut milk and desiccated coconut. Sugar not in the picture.

Square tin, lined and ready.

Sugars and butter waiting to be creamed.

Semolina, salt, baking powder and desiccated coconut.

Rose water being added to the butter and sugars.


Butter, sugar, rose water and eggs.

Add the coconut milk.

Then the semolina mix.

Pour batter into the prepared tin. Cover and refrigerate.


The freshly baked cake.

Delicious and delectable….and dangerous for your peace of mind!


19 Comments Add yours

  1. I love semolina in cakes, and the rose water would give it an exotic flavor. It looks beautiful to me and a really lovely texture.

    1. radhika25 says:

      It is delicious! And even my husband, who’s not too fond of cakes, has been diving into this one šŸ™‚

  2. acakediva says:

    R, I’m so glad that you found a recipe for your beloved cake! I love the idea of the rose water with the coconut. I’ll bet the aroma in your kitchen was fantastic while it was baking. šŸ™‚ -Brooke (PS Thanks for your kind words and link, too.)

    1. radhika25 says:

      Brooke, don’t disappear for another 6 months.
      Yay! I’m making the pineapple curd today!

      1. acakediva says:

        R, Let me know what you think about the curd. I love it on just about anything. šŸ™‚

      2. radhika25 says:

        Made it today and its really really yummy! Thanks for opening my eyes to a pineapple curd!

      3. acakediva says:

        So glad you enjoyed it! šŸ™‚

  3. Love the idea of not just the ingredients but leaving the batter to stand. Wouldn’t it be great to have friends over and pop this in to bake, then serve warm. Okay, so maybe the texture would improve when cool but I wouldn’t care about that. Especially with that fragrance šŸ™‚

    1. radhika25 says:

      Oh yes! That fragrance is hauntingly beautiful! I love rose water!
      And yes again, it tastes even better cold! And after 2-3 days. But it’s fast disappearing in my home šŸ™‚

  4. I am so glad you tried the recipe and loved the cake! It is one of my favorite homey cakes.

    1. radhika25 says:

      Nik, thank you so much for the recipe. I tried leaving comments on your blog, telling you that I’d posted about it, but cd not from my iPad.
      Wanted to also say Congratulations on 2 years of blogging!

  5. This cake sounds Very tasty and full of fragrance!
    (Through Johnny’s Facebook I realized that I have not been receiving your last two posts in my ‘Reader’. I refreshed the ‘Follow’ button. Also, FYI… have you realized that on your blog theme, your ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ buttons are reversed?)

    1. radhika25 says:

      Aah! I see that. I’ll rectify it soon.
      Thanks for not just following, but also taking the trouble of writing in Fae šŸ™‚

  6. Sounds delicious…. Bookmarked it as “make it soon”… šŸ™‚

    1. radhika25 says:

      Do try it out. It just gets better and better with time.

  7. Fig & Quince says:

    Glad that you found an old flame! ; )
    This is the kind of cake I like to make. Now only need an occasion and an excuse …

    1. radhika25 says:

      Doesn’t it sound like a middle eastern basbousa? It was love at first taste for me, when I first had it in Sri Lanka years ago. It obviously reminded me of my Goan cake!

  8. Sounds heavenly. I am your newest follower, BTW!

    1. radhika25 says:

      Thank you Anjana. You are the 99th!

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