Sfouf (Turmeric Cake)

4.99 from 63 votes

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

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

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

More Middle Eastern inspired desserts:

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!

Sfouf (Turmeric Cake)

Sfouf is a Middle Eastern semolina turmeric cake, made with simple ingredients, no eggs and no butter. It's vegan-friendly, light and delightful
5 from 63 votes
Servings 16 servings
Course Dessert
Calories 197
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ cup coarse semolina or fine, or mixture of both
  • ½ cup all-purpose or cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup canola oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons tahini to grease the pan can be replaced with oil
  • Handful of pine nuts or almonds

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF and grease a 9×9" baking pan with the tahini sesame oil or other oil.
  • Mix the dry ingredients (semolina, flour, turmeric and baking powder) together in a large bowl.
  • Mix the wet ingredients (canola oil, milk and cane sugar) in another small bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved in the mixture.
  • 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.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until the pine nuts are golden.
  • Cool on a wire rack and cut into 16 squares or diamond shapes.

Video

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

Serving: 1g, Calories: 197kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 7mg, Potassium: 106mg, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 25IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 38mg, Iron: 1.1mg

Share this recipe

Share it with the world! Mention @feelgoodfoodie or tag #feelgoodfoodie!

White plate with three pieces of sfouf

Rate and comment

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. I tried this today and I can NOT stress enough on how good it came out!! Added a dash of fresh grated ginger and used peanuts on top instead of pine nuts/almonds since I ran out of both😁 sprinkled some coconut shreds on top too! 🙂 Excellent recipe Yumna! Keep ‘em coming❤️

  2. Ok the Sfouf recipe is my absolute favourite. Super simple to make, super light and delicious. If you love turmeric and don’t have much of a sweet tooth, this is a must-try! Light turmeric flavour, not crumbly and a snack that pairs well with warm (turmeric and honey optional) milk, coffee and tea! I’ve had 4 pieces already 😂 and my sweet tooth eaters loved it too!

  3. I just love this recipe and will make it for the second time today—so easy and delicious! I’ve tried several of your recipes (including sayadieh and chicken lemon rice soup) and they have all been so delicious and family approved. Thank you, Yumna!

  4. I never usually leave reviews but honestly this cake deserves to get my five stars! It was so quick and simple to make, I love that it can be made vegan, and all the ingredients were things I had to hand, even the tin was a straightforward size (I never usually have the right thing!). The video was super helpful too, and I appreciated being able to hear how to pronounce sfouf too so I can tell my family what they’re eating! Definitely a recipe I’ll come back to, delicious with a coffee and to whip up quickly as an alternative to a bog standard sponge cake. Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. helllo,
    i tried your sfouf recipe and it’s so good! the best i tried so far 😀.
    i love your page 👍🏻 keep going❤️

  6. I have to say that I’ve never thought that I would make sfouf until I found feelgoodfoodie 🤩! It is the yumiest and easiest recipe !! Finally my husband can eat “sfouf” now without waiting for his grandmother to make it for him 😋 ! Thank you for always sharing yumii recipes that are easy to make!

  7. I remember finding your page through YouTube, back when shelter in place had just begun and I wanted to bake banana chocolate chip cookies! Ever since I started following you on Instagram, I have visited your page almost everyday, and I am NOT exaggerating. I am a huge admirer of your work and I absolutely LOVE all your creations. I’ve cooked so many of your recipes but I realised that I’ve never reached out to thank you. You have inspired me to make better food choices and further enhanced my love for cooking. I’m pretty young still but I hope someday I’m able to make my own uniquely wonderful creations, like you do! Thank you for taking the time to share such great recipes with us.
    P.S. I made Sfouf today and it’s melting in my mouth as I type this message. I substituted pine nuts with sliced almonds. This cake has such a unique flavour and is SO delicious!

  8. Made it today and turned out absolutely delicious. Kept it in the oven for a few extra minutes after turning off and it have a more outer crunchy texture which the whole family enjoyed!

  9. This recipe worked perfectly and was delicious. I liked the addition of the sesame paste and the fact it was egg free. Simple but sophisticated taste. Thanks for this idea.

  10. Hi. i tried this sfouf cake. Turned out awesome. Everybody loved it. Thanks for the recipe. Sooo Good!! ❤️❤️

  11. I had to try out this cake as I was quite confident with it and I had all the ingredients in hand. Except for tahini and pine nuts, for which I’ve substituted with coconut oil and almond nibs as recommended. Yummmm! Very few ingredients, no mixer needed hence less washing 😜. Perfect!

  12. Hi! I tried the sfouf recipe and it turned out perfect. Not very sweet just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. I’ve tried many of your recipes as our cuisine is similar to yours and I loved every recipe.

  13. Hi! Just wanted to say how much I love your recipes. I followed your Sfouf recipe and they tured out AMAZING!! Patiently waiting on your cooking book 😉

  14. Good morning Mrs. Yumna. I’m glad to know that you’re Lebanese. I was seeing how to make turmeric banana bread & you mentioned the sfouf. So I browsed and saw your recipes.
    Good luck.
    Nisrine Khawand Ghosn

  15. Hi! I just made this cake after trying it in Lebanon, and I’m in love with the taste!! However, my cake turned out a little crunchy 🙁 I think it might be the semolina? Do you have any idea what could have caused this or how to prevent it? Either way I will definitely make this again!

    1. Sorry for the confusion, I used 9×9 baking pan. I just clarified it in the recipe card now. Thank you.

  16. I made a half recipe of the Sfouf using high altitude adjustments for 5,000 feet and it worked out very well (although admittedly, I have not made the cake without the adjustments, so I have nothing to compare–it might be fine without the adjustments, as well). I didn’t have canola oil, so I used olive oil and added a little ground cardamom (I also used soy milk). The flavor turned out slightly lemony–very pleasant. I’m thinking of making this again, but with canola oil, and adding a little almond extract along with the cardamom. Thanks so much for sharing this happily-vegan cake! It’s a wonderful and versatile recipe.

    1. I’m so glad it worked out for you with the high altitude adjustments. I love the idea of adding almond extract and cardamom with this – it would go so well with the turmeric!

  17. I have two questions: 1) Can I substitute with soy milk? and 2) Do I need to adjust for high altitude baking (5,000 ft)? This sounds delicious–

    1. Yes you can substitute with soy milk. And I’m really not sure about high altitude baking unfortunately but I would say if you normally do adjust, then it’s a good idea to do so here as well!

  18. I just discovered the glory that is turmeric and found this recipe. I made it exactly as indicated, with pine nuts. What can I say….this is simply delicious. De Lish Us. It has this wonderful aftertaste…10 minutes after eating a piece it still resonates on your palette. I am going to make this all the time. I am forever in your debt.

    One word of warning. Being the impatient sort I failed to stir the sugar until completely dissolved and there is a grainy sugar component, but that is my fault. OMG I’m gonna eat this whole pan.

    1. Hahaha your comment made me smile!! You’re the best and thank you so much for sharing your feedback. I’m so happy that you loved it and that you’ll be making it again! It’s so simple and delicious — totally agree!!

      1. Having now made this many times, I think I prefer to grease the pan with butter. To me, the tahini mellows the turmeric. It is still very very delicious but I prefer the turmeric forward flavor I get when I grease the pan with butter. Also I eat this for breakfast with coffee, so looking for more of a savory flavor. Either way you make it you cant go wrong. This also good at bedtime with some Moroccan mint tea.

  19. Hi Yumna! I just wanted to let you know that I made Sfouf with honey instead of sugar and it tasted amazing! Its infused with flavour, thank you so much for all your recipes and all your amazing advise. This cake is a must and its guiltless as well! Next am trying your pistachio cookies:)!

      1. I’ve made this recipe so many times and all I can say is WOW! I live in Lebanon and I’ve tried some recipes from others yet this has such balanced notes of everything! I really love the way these turn out and I whip this up in 10 minutes really simple and flavor explodes!
        One thing is that I use half a cup of milk and half a cup of anise tea!
        Thank you for an amazing recipe 🙌🏼💙

        1. So glad to hear that you’ve made this so often. Thanks so much for sharing your feedback! And I love that you add anise tea to it..great idea!

  20. I make this for my husband and in-laws who are from Beirut and they love it and ask me to make it for them all the time. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  21. Made this today and let me just say – amazing! It’s a wonderful accompaniment with tea. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. What are your thoughts about incorporating rose or orange blossom water? And if so, how much?

    1. So glad you liked it!! And yes, I love adding rose or orange blossom water. I would add 1-2 tablespoons of it with the wet ingredients.

  22. never tasted sfouf or turmeric in any cake before so decided to give this a try, though my first intention was to use the unused semolina flour in the pantry.
    turned out i had run out of turmeric (facepalm) so i used my homemade golden latte spice blend instead, figured its predominately turmeric anyway with some extra warming spices that wouldn’t hurt?
    threw in some raisins as well and topped with black sesame seeds (didn’t have pine nuts…T_T) it turned out SO NICE!!!!
    the texture is so good, the flavor profile was so unique – i’m definitely keeping this recipe! also the tahini trick is like magic? 🙂 thank you for sharing this!

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! What a fun new recipe to try and I love that you added some raisins to it. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  23. I really love your recipe. It turned out pretty good. I’m actually writing an article on Turmeric and would like to share this recipe on it. I’ll redirect and give credit so my readers can also enjoy it too. Thank you Yumna ♥️

  24. We’ll see how well this works. I had all the ingredients except semolina flour, so I made your recipe using corn grits (polenta) instead of semolina, thinking the texture would make it work and the yellow color wouldn’t matter. The edge looks similar to your pictures. I know it won’t be quite the same as the traditional recipe. It’s still in the oven, but looking good!

  25. My grandma used to add ground coconut to it while my mom used anise water instead of milk. I, with very minimal baking experience, was able to make that cake and it was delicious!

    1. So glad to hear you were able to make it and enjoy it! And yes I’ve heard it being made with coconut as well, you should definitely try that next time or at least sprinkle it on top!

  26. Hi Yumna,
    I followed the same receipe but substituted canola oil with coconut oil (1/3 cup) and sugar with 3 tbsp of honey. But it tasted anything nothing like sfouf ?. Any other tips? Thank you, Sara

    1. Those are pretty big substitutions unfortunately. You can’t substitute the liquid sweetener for the granulated sweetener. It affects the taste and the consistency. And also, it’s possible that the coconut oil affected the taste of the recipe because it’s important to use a neutral oil like canola, vegetable, grapeseed or safflower for example. I would recommend trying it again if you can use the ingredients I used because it will be much better.

  27. I searched around the internet for recipes that would use a bag of King Arthur durum flour that has been in my pantry for a while. Thankfully I landed on your recipe. I’ve never used turmeric in dessert, so that was a surprising flavor. I really enjoy the texture of this cake and the fact that it is not too sweet. As you mentioned, it is the perfect afternoon snack with a cup of hot tea. I loved the flavor that the tahini added to the cake and I might try using tahini to “oil” the pan for other cakes. Next time I make this, I will try the anise or rose versions, or maybe even some almond extract. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe.

    1. Hi Christine – that’s so cool how you found the recipe because of wanting to use the durum flour you had! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the flavors. It’s one that reminds me of my childhood so I’m so happy to share it! Thank you for taking the time to share your experience 🙂

  28. 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.

      1. My Lebanese friends loved this when I made it for them! And the rest of us who were new to it loved it! Just wondered if it can be frozen??

        1. Yay! I’m so happy to hear that. And yes, they can absolutely be frozen. To thaw, just leave in the fridge overnight.

  29. 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

    1. 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?

  30. 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.

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

  31. 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.

  32. 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! 🙂

    1. 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!

  33. 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!

  34. 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?

    1. 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.

    1. 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!!

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