Sunday, July 29, 2012

Egyptian Baking Substitutes

I've had a few people who follow the blog ask where you can get certain baking supplies in Egypt. After many years of searching and trial and error, I present to you a list of available items in Egypt for baking, where you will find them, and appropriate substitutes.

  • Baking Soda. Called for in many, many recipes, you might be extremely puzzled when you walk into your local supermarket's baking section and find it missing. Fear not, it's because you're looking in the wrong place. Pharmacies here carry baking soda, and it is known by its scientific name, Sodium Bicarbonate. If you're in Hurghada, Spinney's has a big bin of it along with all the olives and pickled foods. So next time you're in need of baking soda, now you know. 
  • Corn Starch. Originally this was something that if you needed in your recipes, you were going to have to bring from outside the country. Fortunately however in the past few years a company called "Cooks" has started producing corn starch locally. You'll find it alongside flour and sugar in your supermarkets baking aisle (but don't expect to find it in the smaller markets). 
  • Corn Syrup. Alas, this is still not readily available in Egypt. Fear not however, you can easily make your own at home. All you'll need is sugar and water and a stove. To make approximately 2 cups of sugar syrup, you'll need 2 cups of sugar, 3/4 cup of water, and combine over a medium/low heat and stir until syrupy. You can always store any remaining syrup in a jar. 
  • Food colouring. Normally something that you could not find in Egypt, food colouring is making its way into the market here. For this addition to your cooking, you'll need to purchase from a local sweet shop. For those in Hurghada, check my "Where to Go" section for Bargout, and you will find many varieties of baking items available here. 
  • Gelatin. This is something I have yet to find on the market here. If anyone knows anywhere that does in fact sell it, please let me know. I usually bring stocks with me from overseas - but I have been told that certain sweet shops will sell Gelatin (although I have not seen it myself, particularly powdered Gelatin)
  • Glycerin. Again, something else I have yet to find on the market here. If anyone knows anywhere that does in fact sell it, please let me know. 
  • Sugar Glucose. If you're into making fondant or any other sugary recipe that requires sugar glucose, you probably encountered the same problems as me thinking "Where in the world can I find that!!" Fear not, again for this you can go to a local sweet shop and usually find this item. Again, check the post for Bargout if you're in Hurghada to find out more. 
  • Vanilla Extract. Not something you can find in Egypt due to the ethanol content in the extract. However, what you can readily find here are little packets of vanilla sugar, that can work perfectly as a substitute in any recipe calling for vanilla. 
  • Wet / Dry yeast. Wet yeast is a mystery to me, I have never seen it here. Dry yeast however has worked just as well in recipes for me that called for wet yeast, and this you can find in your local supermarket alongside the flour and baking items. It comes in small green packets that are about 2 tsps each. 

Key Lime pie, yum!

As always, any questions let me know and I will do my best to find out where you can get a hold of some of the elusive baking ingredients! :)

Update, a wonderful friend of mine also very into baking has let me know that for those in Cairo, check out Bakeaholics on FB. They not only have everything on the list but will deliver to your door! 


  1. Many thanks to you and your friend for sharing the Cairo source! I am so excited!


  2. You'll have to let me know how it pans out Stacy :)

  3. For wet yeast you just go to any local bakery and ask for khamira. It's always fresh, smells sooo good and a piece for one pound will make quite a bunch of goodies.

  4. You can get Ferment Instant Dry Yeast in 450g bags at Spinneys in Hurghada now.

    Also, the issue with Gelatin, is that it is produced by partial hydrolysis of collagen extracted from the skin, boiled crushed horn, hoof and bones, connective tissues, organs and some intestines of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, horses, and pigs. <----

    More commonly used is Mistika (Arabic gum) for similar effect, such as in Egyptian Ice Cream (Bouzat haleeb). A different texture to be sure, but I had a "jello" made with it last week, that I am actually quite fond of now :)

  5. just found this blog, perfect!! There are some ingredients I just can’t find, like red wine vinegar, buttermilk powder, poppy seeds and butter milk, any ideas on where I can find them?