Bint al Sahn is probably my absolute favorite Yemeni dish (along with shai haleeb). It is often translated as honey cake into English, but in reality I think it falls more under the category of a rich, flaky, bread with is served with honey and melted ghee. Like most breads, it’s best when it is fresh and warm. This recipe seems very simple in terms of the ingredients, however, it is not the easiest dish to make. For this reason, you rarely find in Yemeni restaurants and it is something which is most often made at home. The most important thing is that the layers need to be paper thin. In order to achieve this, the dough needs to be the right consistency and you also need to let the dough balls relax so that it becomes easy to toss them out. I have also found that using bread flour makes the process easier than using regular flour. Bread flour stretches easier without breaking. And if you don’t get it right the first time, don’t worry! As I said its a dish which is on the more difficult side to prepare and it becomes easier with practice.
BINT AL SAHN (YEMENI HONEY CAKE)
4 cups of bread flour
1/4 cup of water + about 1/4 additional water, more or less
3/4 cup melted butter or ghee
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. yeast
1/4 cup additional melted butter or ghee
Black cumin seeds or sesame seeds
1 Egg Yolk for the egg wa
HOW TO MAKE
Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup water. Mix flour, 4 eggs, 3/4 cup butter, salt, and yeast/water mixture together and knead for 10-15 minutes by hand or using a mixer. At this point, add the extra water slowly until the dough is soft and smooth but does not stick to your hands. I used about 1/4 cup additional water but this may vary depending on the climate where you live. Alternatively, place ingredients in bread machine on dough cycle until well kneaded. Cover and let dough sit and relax for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough in 8-10 pieces. Form each piece into a smooth ball with your hands and place on a flat surface, coat lightly with oil and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
Grease a 14-inch round cake pan (you can also use a 12 or 10-inch pan) and set aside. Take one dough ball and toss it out by hand or roll it out on clean flat surface until it is very thin and you can see through it. Place this layer into the bottom of the pan and drizzle with some melted butter. Repeat this process for all 10 layers, each time adding a little bit of melted butter on top of each layer, except for the top layer.
Brush the toplayer with one beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with black cumin seeds or sesame seeds.
Place in preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 18-20 minutes or until cake is golden brown.