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Sfouf (Turmeric Cake)

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  • PlateServes: 16 servings

Sfouf is a Middle Eastern semolina turmeric cake, made with simple ingredients, no eggs and no butter. It's vegan-friendly, light and simply delightful!

  • Author: Yumna Jawad
  • Posted:

How fun is this cake name? Sfouf! *Too fun*

Sfouf is an arabic word that means lines and it’s used here to describe the way this cake is cut into lines. The cake itself is a semolina-turmeric oil-based yellow cake. It’s a simple plain cake with mild flavors and not at all sweet – the perfect light dessert or snack to go with your cup of coffee!

Plate of sfouf being served

What do you need to make sfouf?

I learned this sfouf recipe from my mom and my mother-in-law. Both essentially make it the same way, but my mom likes to add rose water to the wet ingredients to give it a fresh aromatic flavor.

You only need a few ingredients to make sfouf. The best part is that it’s egg-free and butter-free. And it’s almost vegan, except for the use of 1 cup of milk. You can easily substitute that milk with plant-based milk or water to make this recipe fully vegan.

It’s a super simple recipe that uses basic baking ingredients, but includes three distinct ingredients:

  1. Turmeric: The turmeric essentially gives the cake a rich yellow color, a sweet and distinct taste, and the added antioxidant benefits. Just one tablespoon of turmeric mixed with the dry ingredients goes a long way.
  2. Semolina: This is a coarse purified wheat that’s usually used to make pasta. You’ll use the semolina in this cake along with flour to add a nutty texture, compared to just using flour alone.
  3. Tahini: This is a paste made from sesame seeds. I use it in this sfouf recipe to coat the pan, instead of oil or butter. It’s so widely available in all stores these days. But if you can’t find it, you can coat the oil with oil or butter instead. It just adds to the richness of the recipe.
Large basket of sfouf cut into squares ready to be served

How do you make sfouf

To start, you’ll want to mix together the dry ingredients: This includes the turmeric and you can see here the color is fairly light before cooking.

Collage of two images showing the dry ingredients before and after mixing

Then comes the wet ingredients. Mix until the sugar dissolves, then combine the wet and dry ingredients together and the batter is ready to go.

Collage of two images showing sfouf batter before and after mixing

A unique step about this recipe is how we coat the pan. Instead of just using cooking spray, we use tahini to coat the pan. This serves two purposes: first it coats the pan with something oily so the batter doesn’t stick to the pan. And second, it gives the cake a nutty flavor that is pretty iconic of the cake. So after spreading the tahini on the baking pan, you can pour the batter over.

Collage of two images showing the pan greased with tahini and the batter getting poured over the tahini

It’s traditional to sprinkle the top of the batter with with raw pine nuts. You can also use almonds, or leave it out completely.

Batter poured into prepared pan and sprinkled with pine nuts

Then you’ll bake the sfouf in the oven for about 30 minutes. Use the pine nuts as a clue to its readiness. You want them golden, but not brown.

Final sfouf recipe right out of the oven showing a rich golden color.

Grab that cup of coffee folks, because it’s sfouf time! You can cut them into squares, rectangles or diamonds – 9 or 12 pieces. The end result is a beautifully colored simple turmeric cake that I grew up eating. It’s one of the most popular Lebanese cakes, and I love how simple it is to make!

Plate of sfouf being served

Notice how the turmeric color became more enhanced after baking? It’s pretty much turmeric cake, and it’s pretty much one of those iconic Lebanese/Middle Eastern desserts that we grew up having. If you’re obsessed with anything turmeric like I am, try my golden milk latte – it’s basically liquid gold in a cup.

Large basket of sfouf cut into squares ready to be served

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Sfouf recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

For more Middle Eastern inspired desserts, check out:

4.29 from 7 votes
White plate with three pieces of sfouf
Sfouf (Turmeric Cake)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
Sfouf is a Middle Eastern semolina turmeric cake, made with simple ingredients, no eggs and no butter. It's vegan-friendly, light and simply delightful!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Turmeric cake, Vegan Cake
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 197 kcal
Author: Yumna Jawad
  • 1 1/2 cup coarse semolina or fine, or mixture of both
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup canola oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 cups milk
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons tahini to grease the pan can be replaced with oil
  • Handful of pine nuts or almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF and grease a 9" baking pan with the tahini sesame oil or other oil.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients (semolina, flour, turmeric and baking powder) together in a large bowl.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients (canola oil, milk and cane sugar) in another small bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved in the mixture.
  4. Combine the dry and wet ingredients until batter is smooth and bright yellow. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and sprinkle the pine nuts all over.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until the pine nuts are golden.
  6. Cool on a wire rack and cut into 16 squares or diamond shapes.
Recipe Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 7 days at room temperature or about 10 days in the fridge.

Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However here are some common substitutes that would work well in this recipe.

  • For tahini, you can substitute oil or butter
  • For the coarse semolina, you can also use fine semolina, but don’t use flour instead of semolina because it will not yield the right results
  • For the pine nuts, you can use almonds. Silvered almonds work well and make sure they are raw since they will be getting roasted in the oven.

Sourcing: You can find some of the Middle-Eastern specific items like the semolina and tahini at Middle Eastern markets, natural-foods stores or even in large supermarkets, often located with other Middle Eastern ingredients.

Nutrition: Please note that the nutrition label provided is an estimate only. It will vary based on the specific ingredients used. This recipe is estimated for 16 servings if you cut the sheet into 16 squares.

Nutrition Facts
Sfouf (Turmeric Cake)
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 197 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 12%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 7mg 0%
Potassium 106mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 28g 9%
Sugars 13g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 0.5%
Vitamin C 0.1%
Calcium 3.8%
Iron 6.2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  • Reply
    April 30, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks Yumna! I used the same ingredients. The package said course semolina but it looked fine to me. I also used a large pan. I’m trying it out today with a smaller pan.

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      May 1, 2019 at 6:29 am

      Oh great…I hope it works! I used a square pan 8×8 or 9×9

  • Reply
    April 30, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    I just tried it but it came out hard to cut (although soft in the center) and crumbly could you please advise me what I’ve done wrong? Maybe overcooked it

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      April 30, 2019 at 7:39 pm

      Sorry to hear that. Can you tell me about what ingredients or steps you may have tweaked? It might be the type of semolina you used?

  • Reply
    Sola Nader
    April 22, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    I made my version which is very close to yours but Could you please tell me why mine came out wet and undercook eventhough I left it half hour in 350 oven could it be wrong temperature? I doubled it too to make bigger tray but the end result wasn’t as I expected.

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      April 23, 2019 at 9:03 am

      Yes, in the directions, I included it should be 375 for 30-35 minutes. So it looks like it was undercooked

  • Reply
    Helen Majdalany
    March 20, 2019 at 6:16 am

    My grand’ma used to boil a tablespoon of anis seeds with a cup and a half of water, add the cup of sugar to it to dissolve than add that to the dry ingredients of the Sfouf. She never added milk. The anis adds a very nice flavor to the Sfouf.

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      March 20, 2019 at 7:25 am

      Oh I love that idea! I want to try it next time. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Martha Al Hajje Hassan
    January 20, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    I’ve made this recipe several times. Easy to follow and everyone loves it. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      January 21, 2019 at 11:32 am

      So happy to hear that you’ve made it so often and loved it!! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2019 at 1:23 am

    I’ve been looking for a perfect sfouf recipe to make for my Lebanese boyfriend and I think I found it!
    You mentioned that your mom adds rose water to the wet ingredients and I’d like to do that as well. One tablespoon would probably be enough, what do you think?

    Thank you for a great recipe! 🙂

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      January 8, 2019 at 9:47 pm

      I’m so glad to hear it and I hope you and your boyfriend love the recipe. Yes, I would do 1 tablespoon for the rosewater. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2018 at 3:25 am

    This recipe sounds delicious! To make this fully vegan, do we substitute the 1 cup of milk with 1 cup of water? Would it also be okay to use almond milk instead of water? Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      December 21, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Yes, you can any kind of milk or just water! Hope you like it!

  • Reply
    Dugdale McVey
    July 29, 2018 at 7:22 am

    This looks great, and I plan to try it as soon as I can get out to the store to buy semolina flour.

    I think there is an error in your nutritional values: you show that each slice contains 1.5 gm of sugar. However: the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, which is the equivalent of 16 tbsp; which means that each serving would include 1 Tbsp. And, 1 tbsp of sugar is about 15 gm, not 1.5 gm. Perhaps a decimal point slipped in during the recording of the info?

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      July 30, 2018 at 8:18 am

      Hi there, you’re so right…the sugar was actually left off the nutrition information by accident! Thank so much for pointing it out and I just updated it so it’s now correct.

  • Reply
    June 15, 2018 at 6:23 am

    Is there a way to use gf flour? Chickpea flour or cornmeal to make it gf

    • Reply
      Yumna Jawad
      June 15, 2018 at 8:22 am

      Unfortunately semolina is not gluten-free and it’s an important part of the recipe. However, I would love to see you try it with a gluten free flour and let me know how it works!!

  • Reply
    June 14, 2018 at 10:10 am

    Followed your recipe and got to enjoy the best coffee companion: Sfouf
    Can’t stop eating it. Delicious

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