Khoubz el Bery, the Queen of North African desserts so delicious that even satisfied the sweet of the old Algiers Bey.
ed, 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 Amir pacha 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 communities 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 laBlanc 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 comes the Andulasian tradition and it gave birth to famously familar North African and Middle Eastern sweets like Qalb bel louz, Besboussa and Khoubz Tounis . In Andulasia cooking, they used real honey for this dessert, but nowadays Algerians make this cake with a thick sugar syrup. But you could alternatively use clover, acacia or orange blossom honey for a more healthier version - as I do.
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).