Qalb el louz (Algerian semolina cake)

    18 hours 20 min

    Qalb El Louz, also called Chamia or H'rissa, which means "heart of almonds" is a traditional Algerian pastry offered during the month of Ramadan. It is lengthy to prepare, but the result is really worth the effort. Made with semolina and almond, it's very rich and nourishing, yet the orange blossom and honey syrup makes it melt in the mouth. A delight accompanied with mint tea.

    40 people made this

    Serves: 16 

    • For the pastry
    • 500g coarse semolina
    • 200g granulated sugar
    • 75g butter, diced and softened
    • 60ml orange blossom water
    • 60ml water
    • For the filling
    • 200g finely ground almonds
    • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 3 tablespoons orange blossom water
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • For the syrup
    • 1 litre water
    • 500g granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
    • 1 slice lemon
    • 150g honey
    • almond flakes (to decorate)

    Prep:45min  ›  Cook:1hr35min  ›  Extra time:16hr  ›  Ready in:18hr20min 

      For the pastry:

    1. The day before, combine in a bowl the semolina and sugar. Add the pieces of butter and mix with hands until the semolina has absorbed all the fat.
    2. Mix the orange blossom water with the water and moisten the semolina with half the liquid (reserving the rest for the next day). Mix well, cover and keep cool overnight.
    3. The next day, fluff the semolina grains with a fork and moisten with the rest of the reserved liquid. Let stand for 2 hours. Grease a baking dish with butter and preheat the oven at 180 C / Gas 4.
    4. For the filling:

    5. Meanwhile, mix in a bowl the ground almonds, sugar, orange blossom water and cinnamon.
    6. Spread half of the semolina in the baking dish. Cover with the almond mixture and finish by adding the rest of semolina on top. Using a knife, score squares into the top of the dough and decorate each with an almond.
    7. Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven.
    8. For the syrup:

    9. While baking, combine in a large saucepan the water, sugar, orange blossom water, slice of lemon and honey. Place over low heat and gently simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the syrup thickens slightly.
    10. Take the dish out of the oven, and pour over half of the syrup. Let stand for 30 minutes so the semolina can absorb the liquid, and then pour over the rest of the syrup.
    11. Return to the oven at 180 C / Gas 4 and bake for 15 more minutes. Let stand for at least 6 hours at room temperature before serving.

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