Samali (Σάμαλι)

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A semolina cake flavoured with syrup and mastic (mastiha) and soaked with a sweet syrup

Greeks love sweet and sticky desserts; so much so that there is an entire class of desserts called Siropiasta, which loosely translates to syrupy or syrup-soaked. There are many ways to get your syrup on, whether it is with traditional Greek pastries like galaktoboureko or baklava or with the lesser known cakes like portokalopita and revani.

Another lovely and not too popular syrup cake is samali (pronounced with the accent on the first syllable). This traditional cake uses semolina instead of flour and Greek yogourt in lieu of eggs, fat, or other dairy. The flavour of mastic is traditional and although you can omit it, every effort should be made to find this uniquely flavoured plant resin, obtained from the mastic tree. Don’t worry, it’s not that difficult to find since you can order mastic ere.


The lovely flavour of the mastic is not the only unique thing about this cake. Samali is a dessert that you assemble, and then let sit for a few hours before baking it. This is to allow the semolina to soak up any liquid from the yogourt and orange juice; when the cake then gets baked you end up with a crispy and toasty texture. Just lovely!


Helpful hints

Although this recipe calls for coarse semolina, you can also use the finer semolina. The texture of your samali will be different, but it will work out just fine. We love to use the

Looking for some more siropiasta desserts? You’ve come to the right place!



Apple baklava

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Samali (Σάμαλι)

A semolina cake flavoured with syrup and mastic (mastiha) and soaked with a sweet syrup
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Resting time2 hrs
Total Time3 hrs
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: greek cake, Mia Kouppa cake, Mia Kouppa dessert, Samali, Semolina, Semolina cake, Siropiasta, Syrup-soaked cake
Servings: 1 cake
Author: Mia Kouppa


For the cake

  • 2 cups coarse semolina (or 350 grams)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups Greek yogourt, plain (or 330 grams)
  • 1 1/3 cups superfine sugar (or 300 grams) see Note
  • 1/2 tsp ground masticha (mastic powder)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed (or 60 ml)
  • 1 tbsp grated orange rind
  • vegetable oil for lightly coating baking pan
  • slivered almonds for decoration

For the syrup

  • 1 1/2 cup water (or 375 ml)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (or 200 grams)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed (or 60 ml)
  • orange peel, white pith removed


For the syrup

  • Combine all of the syrup ingredients into a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside, covered.

For the cake

  • In a large mixing bowl combine the semolina, baking powder, baking soda, and mix until well combined. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a plastic spatula incorporate the rest of the ingredients and mix well until everything is well combined.
  • Lightly grease a 8 x 10 inch rectangular baking pan and pour in the batter ensuring even distribution.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 2 hours or until the cake appears dry (the liquid has been absorbed).
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use a sharp knife to score your samali into your serving pieces. Top each piece with a slivered almond.
  • Bake, uncovered, in the middle rack of your oven for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and immediately pour on the cooled syrup, being sure to distribute it evenly.
  • Allow to rest for approximately 30 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy!


You can purchase superfine sugar but it is not always easy to find.  Alternatively, place granulated white sugar in a blender and blend for a few seconds until your sugar is a very fine texture.
If you only find pieces of mastic (this is ideal) and need to grind it yourself, a mortar and pestle works very well.