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Cairene Pastry Innovators, The Batter Half in Egypt

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Ramadan in Cairo. A blessed month for worshippers, for those in need, and for pastry store owners. It's a month with the quietest days the Egyptian capital ever sees, and the most profitable nights of its confectioners' fiscal years. It's also a month where the solid, never-changing Arabic pastry standbys like kunafa, basboosa, and qatayef get treated to a rare flavor innovation. Kunafa, traditionally filled with cream or cheese, gets stuffed with freshly cut mangos and is displayed elegantly like a gourmet pâtisserie instead of in a traditional shallow platter. The usual simple sugar syrups that adorn most pastries are supplemented by a smooth chocolate cream or a drizzle of caramel. And the tried and true decorations of cracked pistachios and whipped cream grow in volume to generous proportions.
But perhaps the greatest innovation of the season comes on the island of Zamalek, right in the heart of Cairo, at The Batter Half. A decidedly youthful addition to the seasoned pastry scene in Egypt, The Batter Half originally opened in 2012 with American and French-style pastries at a quality level until then rarely seen in Egypt. Red velvet cake was the shop's show-stopper, with
coming in a close second as the French delicacy conquered the world.
Bu it was Ramadan that really put The Batter Half on the map. Suddenly, culinary inventions like red velvet
and Nutella
appeared. Murmurs of these concoctions swept through Cairene dinner parties, often followed by gasps and remarks that either landed in the camp of excited adulation or that of wary suspicion.
These pastry inventions were polarizing, as are most things in post-revolution Egypt. But unlike politics, pastry has a way of bridging the gaps between camps through one simple device: taste. Egyptians possess a sweet tooth so powerful it's a matter of national pride. And when an Egyptian meets a Nutella
cake, smeared with chocolate hazelnut paste sitting on a bed of buttery grains of sweetened semolina, all differences in pastry opinion happily melt away.
The mother-son duo behind The Batter Half have enjoyed making a mark on the pastry scene in Cairo. And as long as they continue to shock the palates of their discerning customers, they're likely to enjoy success for many years to come.


17 Mohamed Mazhar Street

Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt

+20 (0)2-27370036

For more of Sarah's writing, visit her website.