Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sfoof and Goodbye

I have greatly enjoyed writing this blog and some of the reactions I have had to it. However, after a year of blogging, I seem to have run out of stories, if not recipes, and have decided to stop here. Also, I am working on a few other projects that take too much of my time and attention, especially the Alix Aymé exhibition that is scheduled to open next spring at The Evergreen Museum and Library of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  I thank all of you who have read my blog and especially those of you who have let me know that you enjoyed it. Perhaps I will begin it again someday.

While looking for recipes that use the allegedly beneficial turmeric, I came across Sfoof, a Lebanese cake that appeared enticing. A beautiful color and sweet, but not too sweet.

 Sfoof also sounds like the noise an object might make while disappearing, and therefore is auditorily appropriate for my final blog.

I have made it several times, varying the ingredients each time. This is my latest and, I think, tastiest version. I served it yesterday afternoon to our friend Cory Maclauchlin who dropped by with his recently completed manuscript: Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Story of A Confederacy of Dunces, which is soon to be published by Da Capo Press. I have just finished reading the beautifully written first chapter and I believe that this will be the serious and masterful biography of Toole for which admirers of his have long been waiting. Kudos to Cory! You can learn more about the book at


  • 1 ½  cups semolina flour
  • ½  cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 ½  teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/8  cups white sugar
  • 1 cup of milk
  • ½  cup vegetable oil
  • 1 plus tablespoon of pine nuts and/or pistachio nuts
  • 1 tablespoon of Herbsaint, Ricard or Pernod


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Grease a 9 inch round baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix semolina, flour, turmeric and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir milk and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add flour mixture, oil, Herbsaint or some other licorice-flavored liqueur. Beat with an electric beater at medium speed for a full 5 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a prepared 9 inch round pan. Sprinkle top with nuts. Bake, in a convection oven if possible, at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out dry.

Makes 8 genrous slices.

                                                    Sfoof ready to be put in the oven

Sfoof ready to disappear


  1. Dear Joel, thanks for writing this blog. sometimes when people intend to quit, they will come back with the blog changed to something else, slightly different, or completely different, so I hope you'll just leave it up here. take care & relax! thanks, sp

  2. merci Joël, je ne peux m'empécher de dire : dommage que tu arretes ... provisoirement, mais je comprends fort bien .
    au revoir donc,

  3. Joel, sorry to see you go. I found your blog after finishing your book, and my stomach is forever grateful. Be well and busy.

  4. Can't wait to try this. I will miss your blog! It has been such a treat. Thanks for introducing me to Butterfly in the Typewriter. I will be looking for it.