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Khoubz el Bey | Algerian almond honey cake

بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

Khoubz el Bey, orginally believed to be called  "Makchoufa"  is the queen, the orginal of all the honeyed, syrup cakes from North Africa. She is special cake, made of all almonds that was born in the luxurious kitchens of the time of Andulasia. The anonymous Andalusian cookbook of the 13th century translated by Charles Perry describes the cake in detail.

Almonds and honey were in abundance in Spain at time. There is a wider range of nuts in the el-Andalus but the almonds dominated. The safflower and indigo coloured pistachios are unique and used to decorate the cake. Today, we don't find indigo coloured pistachios so regular green will do.

Algeria was apart of the el Andalus empire up until the 1500s when the the amir of Algiers, Selim b. Teumi, invited the corsair brothers Oruc and Hayreddin Barbarossa to expel the Spaniards. And Alger under Ottoman control was enclosed by a wall on all sides, including along the seafront. Small communties consisted of about fifty small quarters of Andalusian, Jewish, Moorish and Kabyle people. One could believe this almond cake seeped into the other cuisine of the neighbouring communities. But only during the time of the 17th century when Alger la blanche was at its height, when the women of Alger held their traditions bouqâla did this cake get renamed and grow in popularity in Algeria.

This special dessert gave birth to familar North African and Middle Eastern sweets like Kalb bel louz (click), Besboussa (click) and Khoubz Tounis (click). Most likely in Andulasia they used real honey for this dessert, but nowadays Algerians make this cake with a thick sugar syrup. But you could alternatively use honey for a more healthier version.

 Khoubz el Bey
(Algerian almond honey cake)

  •  250g - 1.5 cups ground almonds
  • 90g - 1/3 cup sugar
  • 120g - 1/2 cup flour, sifted
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 packet (5g - 1tsp) baking powder
  • zest of one lemon
  • pinch of salt

  • 1 liter - 1quart  water
  • 500g - 1lb sugar
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
decor either one of these:
  • flaked almonds
  • ground pistachios
  • coconuts
  • candied coated almonds, or other type of nuts
  1. Prepare the syrup by adding the water, syrup and lemon in a heavy bottom pot to boil.
  2. Once the ingredients are boiling, reduce the heat so they reduce to a syrup.
  3. Preheat the oven to 150° C - 225° F.
  4. When the syrup has reduced and is thick, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  5. Sift the flour with the baking powder. Set aside.
  6. Prepare the cake batter by beating the eggs (whole and yolks) with the sugar until frothy like a mousse. 
  7. Then fold in the flour, almonds, baking powder, lemon zest and salt gently with a spatula.
  8. Grease a 28-30cm round or retangular 2 liter casserole Pyrex dish or even retangular baklava dish.
  9. Pour the batter in the dish.
  10. Bake in the oven for 25-30m.
  11. Once the cake is set -  but the edges are not golden or browned yet turned off the oven and allow the cake to cool in the oven.
  12. Take the cake out of the oven and pour the syrup over the cake.
  13. Decorate the cake now with the nuts of your choice.Allow the syrup to absorb for at least 6 hours. But overnight is best.
  14. Cut the cake into squares or diamonds.
Enjoy with tea or juice this Ramadan!

๑۞๑ If you are using whole raw almonds then grinding them yourself for this cake, then take your raw whole almonds still in their skins and put them in a pot with water. Bring the water up the boil, then turn off the heat. Allow the almonds to cool in the water, then strain the almonds in a colander. Once the almonds are cool to the touch, you can rub the skins right off easily. Now you just lay them out on a clean kitchen towel until they dry. This will take about a day or two, until they completely dry out.
         Traditionally the almonds were pounded in copper mortar and pestles, but now in these modern times such machines as robocoups (food processors) can aid us in easier kitchen work. Now when you are ready to grind the almonds, place the almonds in the machine's bowl, and run the machine for about 2 minutes or until you get a fine crumb. It should not be too fine, (as if you were using a coffee grinder) the type referred to as almond flour that are used to make gluten free cakes and also for marzipan (almond paste).

Click here to view other honeyed desserts. 

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  1. Salam Alaikum,

    MashaAllah tasty dessert and now i know where dh's favourite cake (qalb el louz) came from. <3

  2. Salaam Heni

    This looks delicious mashAllah, and I love hearing about the history behind it. I have never baked with ground almonds before. If I am grinding them myself, what consistency should they be? Should it be like flour or coarser? Thanks!

  3. Esalaamu aleikoum Asmaa and hello Julie: thank you both for reading my blog and commenting.

    Enchallah I will take a look at both your blogs and follow you both.

    @Asmaa yes Khoubz el Bey is the orginator of many honeyed desserts like Qalb belouz and Besboussa etc. It's a very rich cake but nevertheless a special for special events like Eid.

    @Julie, sorry for not being clear I will edit the recipe. But I used blanced almonds. I bought whole raw almonds in their skin. Boiled them so the skins would rub off. Then laid out to dry. Once dried, I grind them in the robocoup(food processor) until they were fine, but not too fine like almond flour, like the kind they use for making marzipan. I ran my machine for about 2minutes, but really if you just grind the almonds to the consistency which appeals to you it is fine. Cheers, and please let me know how the cake turns out if you make it!

  4. Inspiring quest there. What occurred after?

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