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Traditional Algerian Baklawa: Making A Family Memory For Love

    Traditional Algerian Balawa made from Bahdja's family recipe, for Eid ul fitr

    Recently on Historic Cookery, a Facebook group, Bahdja Boudoua, from Algeria shared a post with these lovely photos of a baklawa that she made with her mother Nefissa, and her sister, Sarah. Bahdja kindly agreed to allow their family recipe for baklawa to be shared here. The story below is in her words, some from the original Facebook post. The rest is from an interview she granted to me. The tradition of baklawa in Algeria dates back to the Ottoman Empire. Algeria is a crossroad of many civilisations you feel it in the cuisine, language, music …

    Nefeessa, Bahdja, and Sarah Boudoua make Algerian Baklawa

    “Few days ago I saw a beautiful post about baklawa, and I wanted to share with you the one I made with mom (Nafeesa) and my sister, Sarah.

    It’s traditional Algerian baklawa stuffed with roasted almonds, cinnamon and orange blossom water, then covered with melted honey.

    The unique flavors of traditional Algerian Baklawa

    It is another type of Baklava. Equally delicious, but with some unique features. In Algeria, baklawa is traditionally made with almonds and may be flavored with cinnamon, orange water, and/or cardamom as a flavoring. Algerian balawa also has fewer layers than either Greek or Turkish versions, both of which use walnuts or, in Turkey, ground pistachios. Whether the name is properly baklava or baklawa is principally a question of language, rather than recipe.

    For those who speak Arabic, it is baklawa, for Greeks, it is Baklava. It seems reasonably certain the Assyrians were probably the original creators of baklava/baklawa, so the original name will have been different. The current name (however it is spelled) is derived from an Ottoman Turkish word with possibly Mongolian roots. Throughout the region, the Turkish term for this sweet pastry is the most popular, albeit with many different variations by locale. It is universally made with thin sheets of dough, with multiple layers of pastry, and it is fair to say that there are many variations and every family may have its own unique homemade baklava recipe. (Or Baklawa/Baqlawa if you prefer).

    Kaak nakache, similar to baklawa, yet very different

    Variations on the theme abound, even within countries, kaak nakache is a similar Algerian dessert made with almond paste, rather than crushed almonds, and is rolled into a circle after being stuffed.?Sütlü nuriye is a variation of the Turkish baklava recipe using milk syrup rather than honey.

    Nefissa, Bahdja, and Sara Boudoua make Algerian Baklawa

    “Few days ago I saw a beautiful post about baklawa, and I wanted to share with you the one I made with mom (Nafeesa) and my sister, Sarah.

    It’s Algerian baklawa stuffed with roasted almonds, cinnamon and orange blossom water, then covered with melted honey.

    A special Eid el fitr

    It was last year for Eid el fitr. It was a special moment for all of us because we kinda knew it was the last Eid we celebrated with my dad. He passed away in September.

    Making the baklawa is a good memory for us.

    Bahdja Boudou and Dad

    A simple dough of flour and butter

    Baklawa dough rolled and cut for sheeting

    The dough is made of butter and flour. We use a dough sheeter to create very thin ribbons of dough to cover all the pan, then we paint it with melted butter. We do this for seven layers, we add the stuffing then we do it for six other layers and decorate it “?

    I’ve always wondered from where it (baklawa) comes from, Algeria was under Ottoman Empire from 1500 to 1830 but our baklawa is now very different from the Turkish one and uses almonds and walnuts instead of pistachio.


    We used 1kg of floor, 250g of butter and about one small cup of orange blossoms water. You cut the softened butter into cubes and you rub it into flour using your fingers. Don’t forget to add a pinch of salt.

    Use a dough sheeter or pasta machine to make thin ribbons of dough

    Then you add the water to it till the consistency is soft and homogeneous. The rest time for the dough is about 20mn.

    You don’t kneed the dough, this work is done with the pasta machine while making the thin ribbons, You divide the dough into 13 or 14 equal pieces. And you make ribbons using the widest setting in the pasta machine usually 1 then 2, 3 ..till the 6th or seven.

    The baklawa dough cut for rolling with the first sample roll on top

    Paint the layers of baklawa dough with melted butter

    Homemade baklawa dough stretched across the pan

    We used a 40cm diameter pan, Each piece of dough is used to create one layer in the pan ( as in the pics). You paint each layer with melted butter. You do these steps for seven layers than you add the stuffing.

    Cover the first row of dough with the second set of three strips

    The second set of three layers of baklawa dough are placed so they are perpendicular to the first set.

    Painting the baklawa dough with butter

    The crushed almond filling with orange blossom water

    Baklawa filled with almond mixture

    Here we used 1kg of roasted almonds 1/3 measure of sugar powder, a bit of cinnamon, and orange blossoms water. Some families also flavor with cardamom.

    It is important to cut the dough before cooking

    After adding the stuffing you make 6 layers of dough again, you paint it with melted butter, decorate it and cut it before putting it in the oven. Once baked you add generously the melted honey.

    At home it’s 220 degrees for 20 min but it can change, you have to keep an eye on it. The can be more or less by a few minutes so watch carefully. It goes from it’s not cooked to it’s almost burned in a few minutes ?

    Mom told me it has to be cooked quickly so that the layers do not stick to each other and also to have a crispy result.

    She told me to tell you that you need a lot of honey in the end ?

    Like for our huge pan, we used almost two liters. It is not exactly honey, we use a product that is a combination of honey with sugar and water called assila. (A combination of 500 ml each of sugar and water will make one litre of simple syrup to add to 1 litre of honey).

    Cutting the baklawa

    Oops! The pan was too large! Off to the local bakery.

    Algerian baklawa and almonds

    And fun fact about that day, when we finished the baklawa we noticed that the pan was too big for our oven. For Eid el fatir, we get to ambitious. Haha 🙂

    It was 10pm 

    Sarah, my sister and my mom, Nafeesa, went out to find some open bakery. They asked the baker to lend his oven for us. In a bakery, the timing is more like 15-20 minutes with the very hot oven.

    A lot of Algerian mom’s were already there  it’s a common practice in Algeria.

    Traditional Algerian Balawa made from Bahdja's family recipe, for Eid ul fitr

    Traditional Algerian Baklawa: A family recipe

    Algerian baklawa stuffed with rosted almonds, cinnamon and orange blossom water, then covered with melted honey.
    Course: Confections, Dessert
    Cuisine: Greek, Algerian, Turkish, Lebanese, Serbo-Croatian
    Keyword: baklawa, baklava, baclava, kaak warka
    Servings: 56


    • 40cm diameter baking pan



    • 1 kg flour
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 250 g butter
    • 500 ml orange blossoms water.


    • 1 kg roasted almonds chopped
    • 1/3 cup measure of sugar powder
    • cinnamon
    • 1 cup orange blossoms water make sure the filling is not too juicy or the baklawa will be soggy. On a humid day, it might be less

    Honey glaze

    • 1 litre honey
    • 500 ml sugar
    • 500 ml water



    • Chop the almonds, reserving some to decorate the top of the baklawa
    • Blend the cinnamon, and sugar separately, to make sure you have even distribution of the spice
    • Blend the sugar mixture into the almonds
    • Set this mixture aside while working with the dough
    • Since the dough is done in two stages, you can prepare the mixture during the resting period after the dough is mixed


    • Add the salt to the flour
    • Cut the softened butter into cubes and blend the butter into the flour
    • Add the water until the consistency is soft and easily managed
    • Do not knead the dough, simply form it into a ball for now
    • Rest the dough for 20 minutes
    • After the resting time, cut the dough into 13 or 14 equal pieces
    • Using a dough sheeter or a pasta maker, roll the dough in stages from the thickest setting to the thinnest.
      IE, begin by passing the dough through the widest roller setting, and then progressively roll it on each setting until the dough is as thin as it can be
    • 7 sheets will go on the bottom of the pan, in single layers, placed side-by-side. Paint butter over each layer as it is laid down, being careful to cover the edges as well
    • Fill this pie shell with the almond mixture
    • The last step before baking is to cover this with strips of dough, also painted with butter.

    Honey Syrup

    • Dissolve the sugar in warm or boiling water
    • Put the honey into a large saucepan (at least 3 litres), and stir in the warm sugar syrup
    • Heat this syrup as the balawa is cooking, and pour it over the baklawa as soon as it is out of the oven
    • Alternatively, you may use 2 litres of Assila, if it is sold in your community


    This makes 56 full-sized pieces and a lot of edge pieces for those that love crusts
    There is a similar pastry in Algeria and Tunisia named Kaak Warek, which is  made with a semolina dough and filled with  almond paste instead of chopped almonds.
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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