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This month Food of the World is traveling to Egypt. I made a popular middle Eastern dessert that originated in Egypt. Um Ali is an Egyptian version of bread pudding. Um Ali means Ali’s mother and this pudding is also called as Umm Ali or Om Ali. There are two popular stories on how this pudding originated and have read slightly different narrations for each. One legend is that Um Ali was first wife of Sultan Ezz El Din Aybek. When he died, Um Ali had a dispute with Sultan’s second wife. Um Ali conspired with second wife’s maids and got her killed when by her own maids when she went for a bath. To celebrate this victory, Um Ali prepared bread pudding and distributed among the people.
Another version is that one of the Sultans went hunting, felt hungry and stopped in a nearby village. Locals called the best cook in the area, Umm Ali to prepare something for the Sultan. She made a pudding with stale bread, nuts and milk. The dessert was so good that it was remembered by the creator of the pudding.
Um Ali is prepared with Egyptian flatbread or puff pastry. Puff pastry is baked, crumbled, mixed with nuts, milk, layered with cream and baked until brown. In today’s recipe, instead of using baked puff pastry sheet, palmiers are used. Palmiers are flaky French Pastries made with puff pastry sheets. The author of the recipe I followed says, using palmiers gives this bread pudding an extra crunch. I never tasted Um Ali before and I liked this version. I made palmiers with store bought puff pastry sheets. However, store bought palmiers or lunettes, as known in Egypt, can also be used. Palmiers are similar to Little Hearts we get in India.
Total Time: 20 – 25 minutes
Preparation: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 10 – 15 minutes
Serves: 2 – 4 (two of us finished it in one go)
- 17 – 21 Palmiers (palmiers with 1 puff sheet gives 21, I ate off 4 and was left with only 17 🙂 )
- 2 – 3 tbsp Sugar (use less if using store bought palmiers. Check note below)
- 1 ½ – 2 cups Whole Milk (I used 1 cup 2 % milk and ½ cup heavy cream)
- ¼ cup Heavy Whipping Cream, lightly whipped
- 2 tbsp. Pistachios, chopped
- 2 tbsp. Cashew Nuts, chopped
- 2 tbsp. sliced blanched Almonds, crushed
- 2 tbsp. Raisins
- 2 tbsp. Coconut Flakes (I didn’t use)
- Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400F.
- Break/crumble ⅔ of the palmiers and arrange in a wide baking dish. Since I used 17 palmiers, I used 12 for the bottom layer. I used a 3 cups dish. A wider 4 cups dish would be ideal to get a nice crunch on the top.
- Sprinkle nuts over the palmiers layer. Or skip this step and serve the nuts separately and people can add as many nuts as one prefers.
- Boil milk with 2 ½ tbsp of sugar. (I used 1 cup 2% + ½ cup heavy cream) When sugar dissolves and milk comes to a boil, pour it over layer of palmiers.
- Break remaining ⅓ rd of palmiers and top them over milk soaked palmiers nuts mixture.
- Lightly beat the heavy cream and pour it in top of the broken palmiers.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake for 10 – 13 minutes until milk boils and top becomes golden brown. I kept it for 12 minutes and keep a close eye as it might brown very fast.
- Serve hot. It can also be served cold but as the pudding sits for a longer time, milk gets absorbed and could become dry.
- Milk – I used 1 ½ cups milk but would recommend 2 cups.
- Sugar – I used 2 ½ tbsp sugar and can use upto 3 tbsp if one has a very sweet tooth. If using store bought palmiers, can skip sugar all together as those are sweeter than the ones I made at home.
- Palmiers – I made palmiers at home with 1 puff pastry sheet. If one wants to skip this step, follow the instructions on the puff pastry package to thaw the pastry sheet. Place the pastry sheet on cookie sheet and bake at 400F until puff sheets are golden brown. Cool and crumble the baked puff pastry sheet to make bread pudding.
- Spices – I didn’t use any spices but cardamom powder would give the pudding a nice aroma.
This day in 2014: Dondakaya Ava Pachadi
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