Desserts, Middle Eastern Recipes, Palestinian Cuisine

Hilbeh | Fenugreek Cake

Palestinian hilbeh fenugreek cake served with simple syrup

Winter is here! This cold rainy weather calls for some sweet comfort food that fills your heart and soul with warmth and love. Hilbeh Fenugreek Cake is exactly what you’re looking for!

Hilbeh cake is one of Palestinians’ favorite sweets, especially in the winter season. It is a fulfilling sweet due to its high-calorie content. Although it is not eaten warm, it gives you the energy you need to stay warm during winter!

The olive oil, flour, semolina, sugar, boiled fenugreek seeds, and everything else that is used to make this heavenly dessert will fill your kitchen with a beautiful aroma. Drench it with a dollop of simple syrup and indulge your taste buds with a delectable piece of hilbeh cake. You must give it a try!


Two pieces of fenugreek cake made of flour, semolina, nigella seeds, sesame seeds, and other ingredients to make the perfect harmony.
Why not prepare this delectable Fenugreek cake and continue your family tradition with Palestinian food?


Hilbeh, helbeh, holbah, or hulbah is an Arabic word that translates to Fenugreek . It is a condiment made from ground fenugreek seeds which are commonly used in the Middle East. It is also widely used in an array of Indian dishes.

Raw hilbeh seeds have an incredibly bitter taste. However, when you cook it and combine it with other ingredients, hilbeh can turn a bland dish into a mouthwatering one! You can use it as fenugreek seeds as a whole or ground.

Cooked hilbeh seeds taste like maple syrup or dark caramel. Add some fenugreek seeds to your salads, stews, chicken marinade, and spice blends to elevate your dishes with a rich and deep flavor.


Hilbeh or Fenugreek Seeds: Impressive Health Benefits

Hilbeh or fenugreek seeds were used long ago as an alternative medicine. Its benefits are endless! It has a high amount of fiber and minerals like iron and magnesium.

Fenugreek may help metabolic conditions. That’s why it is recommended for people suffering from diabetes. It seems that it improves insulin function which helps lower blood sugar and reduces cholesterol levels.

Hilbeh is a natural, safe alternative for drugs used to boost breastmilk production. It is recommended for breastfeeding women to consume it as a herbal tea to increase milk production, which helps babies gain more weight.


Simple, Quick, and Delicious Hilbeh Fenugreek Cake!

Diamond pieces of fenugreek cake drenched in simple syrup
A traditional Palestinian Sweet is good any time of the year.

Tips You Must Know

For ultimate taste, it is better to prepare hilbeh cake one day ahead to allow the flavors to come together into perfect harmony.

Use a 13×18 sheet pan to make the cake. You can double or triple the ingredients to make a larger tray and please a larger crowd.

Make sure to boil the fenugreek seeds, rinse, and discard the liquid 2-4 times to make sure that the bitterness of the seeds is gone. Reserve the water from the final round to use it later in the recipe.

For an extra nutty taste, you can place one slice of almond or one pine nut in the center of each diamond piece of fenugreek cake.


Perfect Sweet Ending to Any Meal!

Pieces of hilbeh cake made of fenugreek, flour, sugar, semolina, nigella seeds, anise seeds, and other ingredients
Perfect combo of Middle Eastern flavors!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use honey-based syrup instead of simple syrup?

If you like the flavor of honey-based syrup, you can give it a try.

Can I store fenugreek seeds?

Dry fenugreek seeds can be stored for up to 5 years in a dry place away from the sun. Cooked fenugreek seeds can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. It is better to freeze them in individual servings so you can easily use them when needed.


pieces of hilbeh cake drenched with simple syrup
Drench the pieces with some extra simple syrup and enjoy!

Hilbeh | Fenugreek Cake

Hilbeh fenugreek cake is so yummy and indulging that your guests will ask for a second piece or even a third! Let’s get ready!


What You Need

For the Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek seeds

Water

For the dough

Yeast

Sugar

Milk

Flour

Toasted sesame seeds

Toasted nigella seeds

Anise seed

Ground anise

Ground fennel

Fine semolina

Olive oil

Boiled and strained hilbeh

Reserved hilbeh water

For the Simple Syrup

Sugar

Water

Squeeze of lemon

Orange blossom (if desired)


Pieces of helba cake made with semolina, sugar, flour, anise seed, and other ingredients
You will not get enough!

Steps to Prep

To Prepare Hilbeh/Fenugreek Seeds

First, boil hilbeh seeds in 2 cups of water for 3 minutes and discard the liquid.

Again, return seeds to boil with 2 cups water for another 3 minutes and discard the liquid.

Finally, return the seeds to boil one last time with another 2 cups of water for 3 minutes. Strain and reserve the remaining liquid.


To Prepare Simple Syrup

Boil water and sugar until it starts bubbling. Then, add a squeeze of lemon and orange blossom if desired.

Allow it to come to room temperature before using it.


To Bake the Cake

First, mix the yeast, sugar, and warm milk together and set aside for 5-10 minutes to activate.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the fine semolina, flour, toasted sesame seeds, toasted nigella seeds, anise seeds, ground anise, ground fennel, and strained hilbeh.

Once the yeast is activated, add it to the dry ingredients with olive oil and reserved hilbeh water. Mix well and press down firmly into a half cookie sheet, making sure it is even on all sides.

Then, cut your cake into the desired shape. I did vertical lines and then diagonal lines to make diamond shape pieces. Cover and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until fluffy.

Now, bake in a preheated oven at 400F for 35-45 minutes or until it gets some nice color on top.

Finally, pour about 4 cups of simple syrup on top while the cake is hot, and let it sit at room temperature until completely cool.

Serve it with black coffee or a hot cup of tea and enjoy!


A piece of hilbeh fenugreek cake drenched with simple syrup
Sweet and delectable!

Recipes You Must Try:

Halawat el Jibn (Sweet Cheese Rolls)

Easy No Bake knafeh Cups

Aish El Saraya Dessert

Bakery Style Almond Croissants

Palestinian Sesame Tea Cookies


If you’ve tried this recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.


Palestinian hilbeh fenugreek cake served with simple syrup

Hilbeh Fenugreek Cake

Fatimah
Hilbeh Fenugreek Cake is a traditional Palestinian dessert that has the perfect combination of flavors. Every diamond piece is so sweet and indulging. You must give it a try!
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Middle Eastern, Palestinian

Ingredients
  

For The Fenugreek Seeds

  • 4 tablespoons Fenugreek seeds
  • 2 cups Water for each time

For The Dough

  • ¾ tablespoon yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons toasted nigella seeds
  • tablespoons anise seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ground anise
  • 2 tablespoons ground fennel
  • 1⅓ cups fine semolina
  • cups olive oil
  • boiled and strained hilbeh seeds prepared above
  • 1 cup reserved hilbeh water

For The Simple Syrup

  • 6 cups sugar
  • cups water
  • a squeeze of lemon
  • orange blossom optional

Instructions
 

To Prepare Hilbeh/Fenugreek Seeds

  • Boil hilbeh seeds in 2 cups water for 3 minutes and discard the liquid.
  • Return seeds to boil with 2 cups water for another 3 minutes and discard the liquid.
  • Return the seeds to boil one last time with other 2 cups of water for 3 minutes. Strain and reserve the remaining liquid.

To Prepare Simple Syrup

  • Boil water and sugar until it starts bubbling. Then, add a squeeze of lemon and orange blossom if desired.
  • Allow it to come to room temperature before using it.

To Bake The Cake

  • Mix the yeast, sugar, and warm milk together and set aside for 5-10 minutes to activate.
  • In a large bowl, mix the fine semolina, flour, toasted sesame seeds, toasted nigella seeds, anise seeds, ground anise, ground fennel, and strained hilbeh.
  • Once yeast is activated, add it to the dry ingredients with the olive oil and reserved hilbeh water. Mix well and press down firmly into a half cookie sheet, making sure its even on all sides.
  • Cut your cake into the desired shape. I did vertical lines and then diagonal lines to make diamond shaped pieces. Cover and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until fluffy.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 400F for 35-45 minutes or until it gets some nice color on top.
  • Pour about 4 cups of simple syrup on top while the cake is hot, and let it sit at room temp until completely cool.
  • Serve it with black coffee or a hot cup of tea and enjoy.

Notes

  • For ultimate taste, it is better to prepare it one day ahead to allow the flavors to come together in perfect harmony.
  • Use a 13×18 sheet pan to make hilbeh cake. You can double or triple the ingredients to make a larger tray and please a larger crowd.
  • Make sure to boil the fenugreek seeds, rinse, and discard the liquid 2-4 times to make sure that the bitterness of the seeds is gone. Reserve the water from the final round to be used later in the recipe.
  • For an extra nutty taste, you can place one slice of almond or one pine nut in the center of each diamond piece of fenugreek cake.
Keyword fenugreek cake, Hilbeh Cake, Palestinian dessert, Palestinian traditional recipes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

5 thoughts on “Hilbeh | Fenugreek Cake

  1. Mohamed says:

    5 stars
    It’s certainly a must, besides the rich nutrition value and the great health benefits!
    A very aromatic dessert that guarantees you a once-in a life time experience, I’ve had it when I was very young; and trying this recipes was a journey down through the memory lane!
    Thank you very much for posting the recipe!

  2. Lena says:

    5 stars
    this takes me wayyyyy back to when my grandma and mom used to make it! Its the perfect helbeh recipe

  3. Yasmine E says:

    5 stars
    This is THE perfect recipe. My go to. I had never made it before until now. My family loves it and frequently request for me to make it. It’s light, not too fluffy or dense. As for the simple syrup, I don’t add anything but the water and sugar. My family likes it that way because the syrup feels lighter. I can’t explain why 😆

  4. Kitchenhutt Spices says:

    5 stars
    super delicious !!
    Thanks for sharing it with us !!

  5. Sue says:

    5 stars
    Ah-mazing recipe! Love trying out Palestinian desserts. This might be my second favorite right after kanafe ❤️

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