Lebanese cream (Ashta)

Ashta, our Lebanese cream is the foundation for all pastries; yet it does not contain cream.

Sure, there was a time when ashta was pure cream. Nowadays, it is made with milk (frequently powdered milk in Lebanon), fresh American-style  toast and flavorings!

The result: a clotted cream that tastes fresh and light, without any cream

Such is the genius of Lebanese pastry chefs.

You can make it with powdered milk, milk (whole or lowfat), half-and-half, or a combo of  milk and whipping cream (which is usually my choice).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of milk (I prefer to use half-and-half) (1/2 milk and half whipping cream)
  • 3 pieces of American-style white bread (like Wonder bread)
  • 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch (15 g.)
  • 1 teaspoon of orange blossom water, 1 teaspoon of rose water
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar (optional: if you are serving the dessert with a syrup, don’t add sugar to ashta)

METHOD:

  1. Remove the crust from the bread and cut the bread in dice. Place the bread in a saucepan with the milk.

(at this point, you can let the bread soak in the milk all day in the fridge or a few hours)

  1. Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water.
  2. Heat the milk and bread stirring from time to time,  add the sugar (if using) and when the mixture starts steaming, add the cornstarch mixture. Stir continuously for two minutes, until the mixture thickens; add the rose and orange blossom water and remove from the heat.

  1. Let it cool and store  in the fridge a few hours before using to let it thicken completely.  The “cream” (ashta) will keep a few days.

NOTE: All Lebanese creams and puddings are thickened with cornstarch (or wheat starch); sometimes, you will find that the cornstarch was not sufficient and the cream or pudding is not getting thick; it is OK to add more cornstarch, starting with one tablespoon, diluted in a bit of liquid to get it thicker, and it should then thicken within one minute.


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102 Comments

  1. Colette
    Posted July 5, 2014 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Hello I’ve been looking for a recipe for semolina cake with ashta cream baked inside. I ate it a couple of times and the place I eat it from will not share the recipe Does anyone know what the name of this is and also have the recipe?

  2. Joumana
    Posted July 5, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    @Colette: It is called maamoul madd bel ashta; I have this recipe in my upcoming cookbook. It will be released in early September.

22 Trackbacks

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  9. [...] make the ashta or cream: click here or substitute ricotta, sweetened with a tablespoon of sugar if you [...]

  10. [...] Here, the sweet is made with rice flour and syrup and flavored with mastic and rosewater. It is filled with clotted cream or ashta. [...]

  11. [...] but you can easily make your own at home or use some full-fat ricotta cheese instead. Click here for the [...]

  12. [...] make the ashta or cream: click here or substitute ricotta, sweetened with  sugar to [...]

  13. [...] batch of ashta (can substitute ricotta [...]

  14. [...] Here, the sweet is made with rice flour and syrup and flavored with mastic and rosewater. It is filled with clotted cream or ashta. [...]

  15. [...] but you can easily make your own at home or use some full-fat ricotta cheese instead. Click here for the [...]

  16. [...] és rózsavíz, narancsvirágvíz és kukoricakeményítő is szerepel az összetevői között. Ezen az oldalon  pontos leírás található róla, ha inkább ehhez kapnál [...]

  17. [...] a really good copy cat recipe of Ashta cream that tastes similar to the original recipe (from the Taste of Lebanon food blog). I just had to adjust it a little to really thicken the Ashta cream. When you eat it [...]

  18. [...] a really good copy cat recipe of Ashta cream that tastes similar to the original recipe (from the Taste of Lebanon food blog). I just had to adjust it a little to really thicken the Ashta cream. When you eat it [...]

  19. […] batch ofashta (can substitute ricotta […]

  20. […] make the ashta or cream: click here or substitute ricotta, sweetened with  sugar to […]

  21. […] Here, the sweet is made with rice flour and syrup and flavored with mastic and rosewater. It is filled with clotted cream or ashta. […]

  22. […] but you can easily make your own at home or use some full-fat ricotta cheese instead. Click here for the […]

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