Greek Recipes

Greek and Cypriot recipes

Khushkananaj (Almond Cake) Byzantine Recipe

Original Recipe:

al-Baghdadi p. 212/14
Take fine white flour, and with every ratl mix three uqiya of sesame-oil (one part oil to four of flour), kneading into a firm paste. Leave to rise; then make into long loaves. Put into the middle of each loaf a suitable quantity of ground almonds and scented sugar mixed with rose water, using half as much almonds as sugar. Press together as usual, bake in the oven, remove.

Khushkananaj (Almond Cake)

Khushkananaj (Almond Cake)


  • 2 c white +1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c sesame oil (from untoasted sesame!!!)
  • 6 oz almonds = 1 c before chopping
  • additional flour for rolling out dough
  • 12 oz = 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 T rose water
  • 3/4 to 7/8 c cold water or 1/2 c water, 1/2 c sourdough starter
  • “Leave to rise” is a puzzle, since the recipe includes neither yeast nor water.
  • The recipe doesnot seem to work without water; perhaps the author took it for granted that making a paste implied adding water.
  • We originally developed the recipe without leavening, but currently use sourdough, which is our best guess at what the original intended (and also seems to work a little better).

The two versions are:

Without leavening:

  • Mix the flour, stir in the oil.
  • Sprinkle the water onto the dough, stir in.
  • Knead briefly together.


  • Mix the flour, stir in the oil.
  • Mix the water and the sour dough starter together.
  • Add gradually to the flour/oil mixture, and knead briefly together.
  • Cover with a damp cloth and let rise about 8 hours in a warm place, then knead a little more.
  • We also have two interpretations of how the loaves are made; they are:
  • Almost Baklava: Divide in four parts.
  • Roll each one out to about 8″x16″ on a floured board.
  • Grind almonds, combine with sugar and rose water.
  • Spread the mixture over the rolled out dough and roll up like a jelly roll, sealing the ends and edges (use a wet finger if necessary).
  • You may want to roll out the dough in one place and roll it up in another, so as not to have bits of nuts on the board you are trying to roll it out on.
  • You can vary how thin you roll the dough and how much filling you use over a considerable range, to your own taste.
  • Long thin loaves:
  • Divide the dough into six or eight parts, roll each out to a long loaf (about
  • 16″), flatten down the middle so that you can fill it with the sugar and almond mixture, then seal it together over the filling.
  • You end up with a tube of dough with filling in the middle.
  • Bake at 350deg. about 45-50 minutes.


  • At least some of the almonds should be only coarsely ground, for texture.
  • The sesame oil is the Middle Eastern version, which is almost flavorless; you can get something similar at health food stores.
  • Chinese sesame oil, made from toasted sesame seeds, is very strongly flavored and results in a nearly inedible pastry.
  • We do not know what scented sugar contained.

We used commercial bread dough due to the scale of making this for a feast; here is the recipe as adjusted for this:


  • 2 loaves commercial white bread dough
  • 6 oz ground almonds
  • flour for rolling out dough
  • 1 ½ c sugar — 12 oz
  • 1 Tbsp. rose water
  • Divide each loaf in two parts.
  • Roll each one out as thin as possible on a floured board.
  • Grind almonds, combine with sugar and rose water.
  • Follow directions as for “Almost Baklava,” above (spreading mixture over dough, and rolling as a jelly roll.)
  • Bake at 350 deg. about 20 minutes.
  • This is really good!
  • But I didn’t pay attention to the “seal the ends and edges” part.
  • All the filling ran out.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *