Egyptian bread pudding (Oum Ali)


On the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, this is a popular and delicious Egyptian pastry called Oum Ali.

Oum is the word for mother in Arabic.

It is a Middle-Eastern bread pudding, made with phyllo dough or rakakat pastry sheets.

The neighborhood Middle-Eastern store had a few boxes of ROKAK, these pastry sheets imported from Egypt which I used (rokak is an adjective meaning extra-thin).


Butter puff pastry, ready-made croissants, phyllo dough, even corn flakes!

This pudding is creamy, doughy, sweet, nutty, and super-easy to make!

Serve it for breakfast, or as a dessert. NO ONE will turn it down.

Story behind this dessert: Who was Oum Ali?

In Arab countries, it is customary to call a person as “Father of …” and then the name of the eldest son. Omm Ali was the wife of a ruler from the Ayyubid dynasty. Her rival Shagaret El Dorr (Tree of Pearls) was the second wife of that ruler. After his death, Shagaret El Dorr arranged for Om Ali to be murdered by her servants, and to celebrate, she distributed bread with milk and honey.

Shagaret El Dorr ruled Egypt for some time in the name of her husband, and would later die in a conspiracy too.

This became a dish known as Om Ali.

From: Egyptian cuisine

INGREDIENTS: 6 servings

  • 10 sheets of phyllo dough (half a package), or half a box of rokak sheets, or 6 butter croissants or 3 cups of corn flakes.
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted in the microwave (or clarified if you have time)
  • 2 cups of assorted nuts, toasted in a 300F oven for 10 minutes or so (I used hazelnuts, pistachios and almonds)
  • 3/4 cup of golden raisins
  • 2 cups of whipping cream or whole milk or a mixture of both
  • 2 eggs, beaten slightly with a fork
  • 6 tablespoons (1/2 cup) of maple syrup or brown sugar
  • A pinch of cinnamon

  • If using phyllo sheets or the rokak, first brush them lightly with melted butter and toast in a 300F oven for 10 minutes until caramel-colored. Set aside to cool a few minutes, then break up the sheets and place in individual ramequins or one large serving dish.
  • Toast the nuts in the 300F oven for 10 minutes; peel the hazelnuts, and chop the nuts and combine with the golden raisins in a bowl.
  • Heat the milk and cream with the maple syrup or sugar and when the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and cool a few minutes, then add the cinnamon and beaten eggs and whisk to combine. Add the milk mixture to the nuts and raisins and ladle over the phyllo bits (or rokak or other)
  • Bake in a 350F oven for about 15 minutes until puffed up and golden; cool and seve.

NOTE: If using butter croissants, cut in small pieces and place at the bottom of the ramequins or serving dish.

If using puff pastry, roll out thinly and bake in a 375F oven till golden-brown  and crispy. Break off into little pieces.

If using corn flakes, just place at the bottom of each dish.


NOTE: You can make this traditional recipe without adding eggs; it will be creamier, more soupy  and not custardy.

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  1. Posted August 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    What a delightful recipe! I could eat nuts at every meal. Gorgeous and tempting photos, too.

  2. Posted August 30, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful recipe and way to celebrate. Go, mom!

  3. Posted August 30, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    This looks amazing and perfect end to Ramadan, what a feast :)

  4. Posted August 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    My Egyptian friends told me about this so many times. No matter how hard they tried to describe it, it’s not until now that I fully understand what they meant. I guess a picture is worth a thousand words :) It looks great (and very labor intensive).

  5. Posted August 30, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Oh my this looks amazing….I just love coming here and seeing all your wonderful recipes.

    I have a question..When I go into our Middle Eastern store they have so many cheeses. I would love to try some, but really have no knowledge on any of them. Any suggestions?

  6. Posted August 30, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    So beautiful and comforting! I love all the different filling options you suggest – the croissants are so clever!

  7. Joumana
    Posted August 30, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    @Hanaa: It is actually one of the easiest desserts in the Arabic repertoire.

    @Lyndsey: I have several posts on cheese, one is a string cheese, similar to a mozzarella, but with an interesting shape, one is a akkawi, also like a mozzarella, or nabulsi, or kashkaval which is a sheep cheese; you just have to try them one at a time and see if you like them ; mostly they are mild cheeses, similar to mozzarella.

    @Nadji: Il y a une légende associée a ce dessert. Je vais l’ajouter a mon article de suite.

    @Ratiba: Le kellage libanais est fait avec de la pâte toute prête que l’on achète dans le commerce; je vais attendre d’être a Beyrouth pour le faire! :) (ou essayer de faire la pâte moi-même, très dur je pense!)

  8. Posted August 30, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    great recipe Joumana, thanks for sharing !

  9. Posted August 30, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    OMG, that pudding is a real work of art! A delicacy. So refined and luscious. nothing to do with our puds.



  10. Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    I love the crispiness of this pudding! Delicious texture, would love to taste this pudding!

  11. Posted August 31, 2011 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    Delicious oum ali..

  12. Posted August 31, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Je me suis toujours demandé pourquoi Oumo Ali.
    Quel lien entre les 2. Personne ne m’a donné de réponse.
    Tant pis pour moi. Oumo Ali restera un mystère.
    Je préfère la version lait/crème.
    A très bientôt.

  13. Posted August 31, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Nomz!!!! This looks delicious and I love how you could use corn flakes as an alternative to phyllo.

  14. Posted August 31, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    WOW….I love bread puddings of all sorts, but have never had one made with such a thin bread / pastry. I’m intrigued, it looks delicious!

  15. Posted August 31, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    The raisins and mix of nuts sound great, and the thin, flakey pastry looks great. Love the idea of trying this with cornflakes too!

  16. Posted August 31, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    What a delicious recipe, and interesting history behind the name :)

  17. Posted August 31, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    To echo what some of the comments have already expressed – I adore bread pudding but never thought to make it with ANY of these things! Awesome.

  18. Posted August 31, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    The Egyptian bread pudding is amazing. Look at the flavors and the textures-wow.

    As always, divine. Thanks for sharing it with us.


  19. Posted September 1, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Un dessert ” mére-veilleux “…

  20. Posted September 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    une bonne découverte pour je ne connaissais pas sa doit etre trop trop bon
    ps : possible un c jours tu nous fait découvrir le délicieux dessert libanais le kallaj Ramadan , merci d’avance bisous

  21. Posted September 1, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    What a nice different spin of bread pudding. And what a story behind the name. I would not have liked to be a noble during those days.

  22. Posted September 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    i love this dish, Joumana. and the maple syrup you advise us to use is just the thing for me, given that i live in the land of maple syrup- Canada. btw- congrats on your latest tv appearance- it may be old, but i only just saw it- wonderful. x shayma

  23. Posted September 15, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    What a nice spin on the classic!

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Butternut and cream pudding (Halwa al-yakteen) on November 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    [...] After Oum Ali, this is another great  dessert from Egypt and Eastern Libya.  A  version of this dessert is explained with step-by-step photos  in a great site for anybody interested in Libyan food and traditions. Another version I found in Lebanese chef Marlene Mattar‘s cookbook, Maedat Marlene. [...]

  2. […] After Oum Ali, this is another great  dessert from Egypt and Eastern Libya.  A  version of this dessert is explained with step-by-step photos  in an excellent  site for anybody interested in Libyan food and traditions. Another version I found in Lebanese chef Marlene Mattar‘s cookbook, Maedat Marlene. […]

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