Sfouf bi Debes (Carob Molasses Cake)


Sfouf is the most popular recipe on my blog: it’s a semolina anise seed tea cake that’s fluffy, moist, incredibly flavorful and vegan. The baking time is actually longer than the time it takes to mix all the ingredients together; it’s no wonder why it is the most viewed page on this site!

This version of sfouf is made with carob molasses (also known as debes el kharrub in Arabic) instead of refined white sugar. It’s a healthy and popular alternative to regular turmeric sfouf especially during Easter lent.

Since the carob tree is native to the Mediterranean region, carob molasses is widely consumed in Lebanon. The pods of the carob fruit are mashed with water to release their sugar, then strained and boiled down until a dark thick syrup is formed. In fact it is very common in these regions to make syrups from fruits and there’s an incredible variety ranging from pomegranates, dates, grapes, to mulberry, prickly pears, and figs.

Carob molasses has a very distinctive earthy flavor that’s almost reminiscent of cocoa. That’s why it’s a great alternative to chocolate in many recipes, especially when you taste it in its raw form (I think it looses the rich cocoa taste when baked). So there you have it: an even healthier vegan sfouf cake that’s naturally sweetened. Feel free to experiment with other types of molasses if you can’t find carob at your local food market.



1 tbsp tahini paste
1 cup boiling water
2 tsp anise seed
2 cups fine semolina flour
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup carob molasses
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup toasted white sesame seeds for decoration (you can also substitute with pine nuts or halved blanched almonds)

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (355ºF) and grease an 11″ (28cm) round tin pan with the tbsp of tahini.
2. Seep anise seeds in the boiling water for 5 minutes, then strain and set aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, toast the white sesame seeds in a nonstick pan on medium-high heat until fragrant and barely golden. Set aside to cool.
4. In a large bowl, mix the fine semolina, flour, and baking powder until homogeneous.
5. Slowly add the anise tea, carob molasses, and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and mix until no lumps remain. The batter will be slightly thick.
6. Pour batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.
7. Bake for 30-35 min, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
9. Let cool in the pan completely before inverting onto a wire rack.
10. Cut into square or diamond shapes, and store in an airtight container (Cake can be frozen up to 3 months).

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  • Thank you for sharing! I actually prefer this version to the regular kind 🙂 Just 1 question though, in your recipe ingredients you mention Tahini twice; do the 2 other tbsp go into the batter?

    • Ah thanks for catching that, it’s a typo mistake. I only used 1 tablespoon to grease the pan 🙂 enjoy!

  • Hi. I loved your original sfouf recipe but I am unable to find it. The link I saved on Pinterest takes me to your brownie box website but its no where to be found. I am looking forward to trying the olive oil cake very soon. I’ll let you know how it turns out. My family LOVE the sfouf recipe and I was hoping to make it again this Easter. Wonder if you wouldn’t mind sharing it again? thanks so much


  • Hi! Whatever happened to your original sfouf recipe? I’ve been meaning to try it and now looking for it, it’s gone! Sob
    Would you consider republishing?

  • Thank you for sharing. Tried it today and it turned out to be one of the tastiest sfoufs I ever tried. Easy and yummy!
    I was just wondering how can we get the nutritional facts since Im a big calorie counter 🙈
    But overall 5 stars recipe!