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Shared by Rinat Tzadok

Sabaya (Crispy Yemeni Layer Cake)

Yield: 8 - 10 servingsTime: 2h

Sabaya (Crispy Yemeni Layer Cake)

Yield: 8 - 10 servingsTime: 2h

This recipe was shared by Rinat Tzadok. Read more about her family in "A Bread Tradition Carried 1,500 Miles to Israel." 


  • 8 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • ¼  teaspoon dry yeast
  • room temperature water
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter*

*When possible, Rinat recommends making this recipe with samna, a smoked clarified butter. It can be purchased at Kalustyan’s in Manhattan and at some Middle Eastern specialty shops.

Baking ProjectsBreadsShabbatVegetarianDairyMiddle East


  • Step 1

    Sift flour into large bowl. Add sugar, salt, yeast and mix to combine. Make a well in the center of the dough. Starting with 3 cups of water, pour ½ cup water into dough and start to mix by hand (or with electric mixer, 4-5 minutes at medium/high speed. Start on low for 2 minutes. Then 2 minutes medium speed). Continue adding water until dough comes together and is slightly sticky.

  • Step 2

    Transfer dough to clean bowl sprinkled with flour on bottom. Cover with clean kitchen towel. Let sit for 30 minutes in warm place.

  • Step 3

    Turn dough - drawing up from bottom and over and up. Cover and let rest for 30 more minutes.

  • Step 4

    Preheat oven to 350F. Melt butter until soft and spreadable but not separated (melt until there are still small chunks of butter remaining and then whisk until uniformly melted).

  • Step 5

    Oil hands and counter slightly with butter. Turn dough out onto counter and cut into quarters, then form into 80g (6-7 tablespoons) dough balls (should make about 19-20).

  • Step 6

    Butter a round metal baking dish 13” in size.

  • Step 7

    Take a small pat of room temperature butter and slather it on the counter (you’ll want a well coated surface). Then, roll (or stretch) out each ball carefully with more butter, into 12-13’’ circles and layer onto metal baking dish. Repeat with remaining dough balls, layering each on top of the next.

  • Step 8

    Spread layer of butter/samna on top of final layer.

  • Step 9

    Bake on middle rack at 350F until golden brown and flaky, about 55-60 minutes.