Egyptian bread pudding (Oum Ali)

August 30, 2011  •  Category:


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.


28 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Susan says:

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

  2. Belinda @zomppa says:

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

  3. polwig says:

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

  4. Hanaa says:

    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).

    • Joumana says:

      @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!)

  5. Lyndsey says:

    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. Astra Libris says:

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

  7. Chiara says:

    great recipe Joumana, thanks for sharing !

  8. Rosa says:

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



  9. Jeannie says:

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

  10. Priya says:

    Delicious oum ali..

  11. Nadji says:

    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.

  12. Banana Wonder says:

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

  13. Oui, Chef says:

    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!

  14. lisaiscooking says:

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

  15. Magic of Spice says:

    What a delicious recipe, and interesting history behind the name 🙂

  16. Katherine Martinelli says:

    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.

  17. Velva says:

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

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


  18. domi says:

    Un dessert ” mére-veilleux “…

  19. ratiba says:

    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

  20. Eve@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    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.

  21. shayma says:

    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

  22. jess white @athrifty says:

    What a nice spin on the classic!

  23. Noha Rahhal says:

    A great recipe, Joumana. I was just going through your lovely blog and found out that recipe.

    I just want to clarify a point regarding the history of the dish. It was Om Ali who murdered Shagaret El Dorr, not the other way around.

    Shagaret El Dorr was a dictator at the time. People hates her, and definitely Om Ali shared the same feelings. Due to some conflicts with her husband at the time, Ezzedin Aybak, Shagaret El Dorr had him murdered.

    This stirred a lot of anger and disdain amond the mob. His first wife, aka Om Ali, had hired servants who got El Dorr killed. In Egyptian folklore, it is believed that El Dorr got killed after people threw “2aba2eeb” – wooden flipflops- at her. So many stories about her fatal death. But, in the end, it was Om Ali who won the battle. To celebrate Shagaret El Dorr’s death, Om Ali made dozens of bowls with bread, milk and sugar, and distributed them among the mob who celebrated the end of a dictator 🙂

    That’s how Om Ali came to existence.

    Enchanting story, huh?

  24. Amanda kalidy says:

    We used to eat this every Ramadan in Lebanon…. we always used corn flakes. Do you put the mixture in the oven with the corn flakes or bake the mixture and then pour over the corn flakes??

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