Om Ali (aka Um Ali) is a traditional Egyptian dessert that is the Middle Eastern version of bread pudding. My version is made with buttery toasted croissants, milk, and heavy cream, with a hint of cinnamon. Add nuts in the pudding, or top it with some, it’s divine either way!
This Om Ali is such a comforting dessert, and it's perfect for the cooler weather. It's creamy, sweet, and so easy to make! Serve it hot or cold, it's delicious either way. Love Middle Eastern desserts? Try this Saffron Milk Cake and Kunafa too!
Origins of this Egyptian Bread Pudding
Om Ali (also known as um ali) is a traditional Egyptian dessert and is actually the national dessert of Egypt. It's typically made with rooa which is an Egyptian flatbread.
Since I live in the Middle East, it's easy enough to find it, but I understand that not everyone will have access to this ingredient. So instead, I use good old croissants because they are oh so buttery, flakey, and delicious. Because of the high butter content in croissants this recipe turns out so decadent.
Om Ali translates to Ali’s mother in Arabic. And yes that’s a strange name for a dessert. But legend has it, that it’s named after Sultan Ezz El Din Aybak’s wife (in the 13th century), because she made it for a victory celebration, and somehow the name has stuck.
Obviously, moms have always made the best food ever, and it’s been proven by this dessert named after a mother. Hehe. 🙂
Why this Recipe Works
- Easy & Fast: This recipe is so easy to prepare, and so quick to bake! It's one of the easiest desserts on the blog, and I love it a lot for it's flavor and texture.
- Baked Croissants: Now, I like to bake the croissants for this recipe just to give them a little bit more crispiness and texture. Just tear the croissants into bite sized pieces, and bake on a baking try for about 10 minutes or so until the edges are slightly crispy. This step is optional, but highly recommended.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Croissants: Traditionally Om Ali is made with an Egyptian flatbread called roaa, phyllo or puff pastry sheets and sometimes even lunettes. But I decided to go the croissant route, because it's easier to find and it's so delicious too!
- Milk: For best results, I recommend using full cream milk, but you can use any percentage you prefer. However, the texture of the pudding may change.
- Heavy cream: Used twice in the recipe, once for milk the mixture and second for the topping of the bread pudding. A note on heavy cream: Traditionally the recipe calls for eshta balady, which is a clotted cream. So if you can source some, that's great! But whipped cream does the job very well too.
- Sugar: I use white granulated sugar but you could also use brown sugar.
- Cinnamon Powder: Traditionally cardamom powder is used, but I was out of it, so used cinnamon powder. Both do well in this recipe, and add a delicious warmth to the overall flavor of the recipe. If you don't want to use cinnamon or cardamom, you can also add a dash of vanilla extract.
- Slivered Pistachios: Lots of dry fruits go into umm ali, but my family doesn't like them, so I used slivered pistachios only for the topping. You can also top with a nut mixture of your choice such as crushed cashew nuts, hazelnuts and walnuts.
How to Make It
- Toast the Croissants: Tear the corissants into rough pieces, and bake for 5 minutes or so at 200c.
- Make the Milk Mixture: Combine milk, sugar, heavy cream, and cinnamon powder in a pot. Stir, and bring to a boil on medium heat. Remove from heat.
- Assemble: Place the croissants on a skillet in a single layer. I use a 10-inch cast-iron skillet for this recipe. You can also use a baking dish for this recipe.
- Pour the hot milk mixture over the croissants.
- Top with whipped cream, and spread it evenly all over the surface of the pudding. You could also use eshat balady (clotted cream) for the topping, or even cool whip.
- Bake: Broil the om ali for about 2-3 minutes or until the top layer is golden brown and has caramelized. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with slivered pistachios.
Traditionally, there are nuts and golden raisins added within this pudding, but I don’t like the texture (especially raisins) so what I do is just topped the bread pudding once its been baked. However, you may increase the quantity of the nuts, and add it to the bread pudding too.
Yes, traditionally an Egyptian flat bread called roaa is used for this recipe. You can also substitute with bread, puff pastry, or even palmiers.
Umm Ali can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1-2 days in the fridge. Before serving, warm it in the microwave or enjoy it cold.
This is such a quick and easy dessert to make, that would be perfect for a nice cozy night in or even a party. Hope you enjoy this unique bread pudding! 🙂
More Delicious Desserts to Try
Note: This recipe was originally published on 27th February 2020. It has now been updated for a video tutorial, step-by-step photos of the recipe, and more detailed recipe instructions.
Om Ali Recipe (Egyptian Bread Pudding)
- 10 inch cast iron skillet
- Stand mixer
- 4 medium sized croissants - roughly torn into bite size pieces about 2 cups
- 3 cups milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 pinch A pinch of cinnamon powder optional
- 1 cup heavy cream whipped to soft peaks or use eshta balady (clotted cream) or even cool whip
- Assorted nuts for topping I used slivered pistachios
- Preheat oven to 200 C. Arrange the croissant pieces on a baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes or so, until they’re slightly crispy.
- While the croissants are crisping up, add milk, heavy cream, sugar, and cardamom powder to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat.
- Place the croissant pieces in an ovenproof dish and then pour over the hot milk mixture.
- Now spread the whipped cream all over the surface of the om ali, and turn on the broiler of the oven.
- Place the cast iron skillet in the oven and broil for 2-3 minutes or so, until the top is golden brown.
- Remove from oven and top with slivered pistachios or your favorite nuts and raisins.
- Let rest for a few minutes, and then serve. Om Ali tastes best when warm, but its good to eat cold as well.
- Croissants: Traditionally, um ali is made with an Egyptian flatbread called roaa. However, you can use bread, baked puff pastry, or even palmiers for this recipe.
- Milk: Use full cream milk for this recipe for the creamiest results.
- Heavy cream: also known as whipping cream.
- Sugar: I use white granulated sugar, but I think brown sugar should be okay too.
- Cinnamon powder: Traditionally cardamom powder is used in this recipe, but cinnamon brings a lovely warmth too.
- Whipped Cream: Add 1 teaspoon sugar to heavy cream, and whip until soft peaks have formed. You can also use eshta balady (clotted cream) or cool whip for the topping.
- Nuts: Use your favorite types of nuts such as slivered almonds and chopped cashew nuts. Raisins are a lovely addition too. If using nuts in the pudding, add it to the milk mixture.
- Baking notes: The whipped cream on top caramelizes really fast, so only broil for 2-3 minutes and keep a constant eye on the pudding to avoid burning it.