Category Archives: Desserts

Um Ali Bread Pudding

This dessert, known as Um Ali Bread Pudding, is named after the mother um Ali. Om Ali was the wife of a ruler from the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt called Ezz El-Din Aybek. Her rival Shagaret El Dorr was the second wife of that ruler. After his death, Shagaret El Dorr arranged for Om Ali to be murdered, and to celebrate, she requested from her cooks to come up with the most delicious dessert they can think of to distribute to throughout Egypt. The successful recipe was a special pastry with milk and honey, that was named Om Ali. A gold coin was added to each plate & distributed in the streets of Egypt. Shagaret El Dorr ruled Egypt for some time in the name of her husband, and later died in a conspiracy too. This dish to date is still known as Om Ali. This dessert is a quick and easy way to win legions of hearts. It’s also a mouth-watering way to use up stale croissants – or a great reason to go and buy some!

Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding

You can eat the ‘original’ Um Ali Bread Pudding in several restaurants in Jerusalem and buy it from street vendors at the markets in Jerusalem. Further, this recipe serves 4 persons and it takes a half hour to cook it and 15 minutes to prepare it.

  • 4 all-butter croissants
  • 2 tbsp raisins or dried mixed berries
  • 2 tbsp flaked/slivered almonds, plus extra to sprinkle
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 250ml/9fl oz/generous 1 cup milk
  • 5 tbsp caster/superfine sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp orange blossom water
  • 250ml/9fl oz/generous 1 cup whipping cream
  • 4 tbsp desiccated/shredded coconut
  • 1 small egg, beaten

    Um Ali Bread Pudding
    Um Ali Bread Pudding

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
  2. Tear up the croissants into bite-size pieces, place on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until crisp and golden.
  3. Spread the baked croissant pieces across the base of a baking dish, about 28cm/11¼in square.
  4. Sprinkle over the raisins, almonds, pine nuts and pistachios, making sure they are spread evenly.
  5. Heat the milk in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of the sugar and mix well to dissolve.
  6. Reduce the heat to low, add the cinnamon and orange blossom water and heat through at a gentle simmer for 3–4 minutes.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and leave it to cool so that the egg will not scramble when it’s added to it.
  8. Meanwhile, put the cream and the remaining sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture forms soft peaks.
  9. Sprinkle in the coconut and gently fold to incorporate.
  10. Add the egg to the cool milk mixture and whisk to combine.
  11. Ladle the mixture into the baking dish and spread the whipped cream over the top.
  12. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until everything is bubbling and the top is golden, if necessary placing it under a hot grill/broiler for the last 1–2 minutes to brown the top.
  13. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for a couple of minutes. Serve warm.
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding
Um Ali Bread Pudding

Tahini & Chocolate Brioche

Armenian communities across the Middle East have contributed much to the cuisine across the region, and this brioche is inspired by their Tahinov Hatz, a type of sweet bread roll spread with sugar and cinnamon. And as you can see in the images, you can use the tahini for more then brioches! Also don’t forget, that in the old city of Jerusalem we have the Armenian quarters! Guess where you can eat or buy the real stuff? tahinov-hatz

  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 7g/¼oz dried active yeast
  • 250g/9oz/2 cups plain/all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3 tbsp caster/superfine sugar, plus an extra pinch
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 125g/4½oz/½ cup butter at room temperature, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp tahini
  • 40g/1½oz/¼ cup chocolate chips

Tahini & Chocolate Brioche bread
Tahini & Chocolate Brioche bread
  1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until tepid. Sprinkle in the yeast and stir well.
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, add the sugar, yeasty milk mixture and both eggs and mix thoroughly by hand.
  3. Knead in the butter, one piece at a time. The result should be a soft and elastic dough with a sticky consistency.
  4. Dust the work surface with flour.
  5. Lightly grease your hands with a few drops of the oil, then remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a tight, smooth ball.
  6. Lightly grease the mixing bowl and return the dough ball to the bowl.
  7. Cover with a dish towel and leave in a warm place to rise for 1–2 hours until it has doubled in size.
  8. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back to deflate it, then knead it for 5 minutes, during which time it should become less sticky and more silky.
  9. Grease the bowl again and return the dough to the bowl.
  10. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for another 1 hour or until it doubles in size again.
  11. Lightly dust the work surface with flour again.
  12. Remove the dough from the  mixing bowl and cut it into eight even-sized pieces, then roll each one into a ball.
  13. Working with one ball at time, and covering the others with a damp cloth while you work, flatten each ball and brush each one with ½ teaspoon of the tahini, then sprinkle about 5g/⅛ oz of the chocolate chips in the center.
  14. Working with one ball at a time, gather the edges of the dough over the tahini and chocolate, pinching them together into pouches to seal the filling in tightly.
  15. Transfer to a non-stick 900g/2lb loaf pan and repeat with the remaining balls.
  16. Cover and set aside for 1 hour or until they have doubled in size.
  17. Shortly before the balls have fully risen, preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4.
  18. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water and the pinch of sugar to create an egg wash, then brush this over the top of the dough balls.
  19. Bake in the oven for 35–45 minutes until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  20. Remove the brioche from the oven and leave it to stand for 5 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool.
  21. When completely cold, cut into slices.
Tahini & Chocolate Brioche bread
Tahini & Chocolate Brioche bread
Tahini & Chocolate Brioche bread
Tahini & Chocolate Brioche bread
Tahini & Chocolate Brioche
Tahini & Chocolate Brioche

Cardamom-scented profiteroles

Although profiteroles may look and sound daunting, they are in fact super-easy to
make and don’t take that much time either. Here is my twist on Iran’s popular cream-filled pastries, but in Israeli style. But that must not stop your creativity, because you can fill it with whatever you want. And the way how you can serve this desert, is up to you. Look at the images for ideas.

Cardamom-scented profiteroles
Cardamom-scented profiteroles

With this recipe, you make 10 profiteroles, it takes you about a half hour to prepare and 30 minutes to make it.

  • 125ml/4fl oz/½ cup milk
  • 115g/4oz/scant ½ cup butter
  • 125g/4½oz/1 cup plain/all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 500ml/17fl oz/generous 2 cups double/heavy cream
  • 100g/3½oz/½ cup caster/superfine sugar
  • 2 tbsp rosewater
  • 50g/1¾oz/scant ½ cup shelled unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • icing/confectioners’ sugar, sifted, for dusting
  • dried edible rose petals, to decorate

    Cardamom-scented profiteroles
    Cardamom-scented profiteroles

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment.
  3. To make the choux pastry, put the milk, butter and 125ml/4fl oz/½ cup water in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat until the butter melts, then bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and add the flour and salt, then beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a smooth paste and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 2–3 minutes to prevent the eggs curdling.
  6. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each is thoroughly incorporated before you add the next.
  7. Continue beating until the mixture forms a smooth, thick paste.
  8. Sprinkle over half the lime zest and the cardamom and gently stir until just combined.
  9. Spoon a heaped tablespoon of the choux pastry dough onto the prepared baking sheet, sliding it off with your finger if needed.
  10. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, leaving about 5cm/2in between each one to allow for expansion during cooking, making about ten profiteroles.
  11. Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes or until the profiteroles have puffed up and are golden brown.
  12. Turn off the oven, leaving the profiteroles inside with the door slightly ajar for about 15 minutes.
  13. If you tap the base of one of the profiteroles, it should make a hollow sound. Pierce the side of each profiterole to release any hot air, which helps to prevent them going soggy.
  14. Put the cream and sugar in a mixing bowl and use an electric whisk to beat the mixture until it forms stiff peaks.
  15. Add the rosewater, the remaining lime zest and the pistachios and fold in gently.
  16. Put in the refrigerator to firm up.
  17. Once the profiteroles have cooled, cut each one in half horizontally, but not all the way through.
  18. Remove the chilled cream from the refrigerator and use a wooden cocktail stick to gently swirl in the pomegranate molasses.
  19. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the cream into the cavity of each profiterole.
  20. Dust with icing/confectioners’ sugar and decorate with rose petals.
Cardamom-scented profiteroles
Cardamom-scented profiteroles
Cardamom-scented profiteroles
Cardamom-scented profiteroles
Cardamom-scented profiteroles
Cardamom-scented profiteroles
Cardamom-scented profiteroles
Cardamom-scented profiteroles

Saffron rice pudding

Nearly every culture has an adaptation of this ancient rice dish. This delicate and
creamy version is inspired by two different Persian rice puddings: Shir Berenj and
Shollehzard. The former has a topping of honey or jam; the latter incorporates
saffron. In Iran, a person will serve this dish to give thanks for their good fortune or
to honor the departed. In Jerusalem, there are restaurants who are making Saffron Rice Pudding an art.

Saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding

  • 4 ready-to-eat dried figs
  • 150ml/5fl oz/⅔ cup clear honey
  • 1 tbsp rosewater
  • 1l/35fl oz/4⅓ cups whole milk
  • 30g/1oz/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp Saffron Liquid
  • 100g/3½oz/½ cup short-grain pudding rice
  • 150ml/5fl oz/⅔ cup double/heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp flaked/slivered almonds, to sprinkle

    Saffron rice pudding
    Saffron rice pudding

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4.
  2. Slice the figs length ways into sixths and place in a baking dish. Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, mix 6 tablespoons of the honey with the rosewater.
  4. Remove the figs from the oven and pour the rose and honey mixture over them. Set aside to cool.
  5. Put the milk, the remaining honey, the butter, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron liquid in a large heavy-based saucepan and bring the mixture to the boil over a  medium heat.
  6. Meanwhile, rinse the rice several times under cold running water.
  7. Stir the mixture well, then reduce the heat to low.
  8. Add the rice and bring just to the boil, then simmer for 50 minutes or more, stirring occasionally, until the rice is very soft and begins to disintegrate.
  9. The mixture should thicken into a pudding. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  10. Pour the cream into a bowl and whip until it forms stiff peaks. Gently fold it into the cooked rice.
  11. Pour the pudding into four dishes and leave to cool, then cover with cling film/plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to chill for several hours.
  12. Meanwhile, toast the flaked/slivered almonds in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan often.
  13. Before serving, sprinkle each pudding with a pinch of cinnamon, add the honeyed figs and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.
Saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding
Saffron rice pudding