Meet our everyday baker, Anneka Manning. Each fortnight, she'll be sharing her baking rituals, modern and ancient, and baking techniques from around the world. This week, she shares the exotic yet simple secrets to Moroccan baking.
By
Anneka Manning

21 Sep 2014 - 4:44 PM  UPDATED 25 Sep 2014 - 3:42 PM

Moroccan food has a defining expectation of being aromatic, layered with spice, and full of life. It is a cuisine that embraces exotic 'touches' of saffron, orange flower water and honey. It is colourful (not only in appearance but also flavour), and intoxicating.

When it comes to the sweet baked offerings of this cuisine, they often come in the form of pastries and biscuits – Moroccans certainly aren’t known for their cakes – using common ingredients, including nuts (such as almonds and pistachios), honey, flower waters of rose and orange, spices of cinnamon and anise seed, and crisp thin pastry, called warga. This paper-like pastry is made from high-gluten flour, semolina and vegetable oil. It can, however, be hard to get hold of outside the Moroccan borders and filo pastry makes a happy substitute, especially in the sweet almond briouats that combine a flavoursome almond paste centre enclosed in a crisp layer of honey-soaked pastry.

Fekkas, twice-cooked biscuits similar to the Italian biscotti, are well-loved and provide a not-too-sweet accompaniment to Moroccan mint tea or a glass of milk for dunking – even for the grown-ups.

Ktefa is another traditional Moroccan pastry-based dessert that interleaves thin layers of pastry with luscious orange flower water scented crème anglaise and cinnamon-spiced almonds – a beautiful combination that is delicate in texture, yet surprisingly bold in flavour.

And when it comes to biscuits like almond ghoribas, only the Moroccans can make a simple, uncomplicated mix with very few ingredients seem so exotic and special.

 

Moroccan spice recipes

1. Almond briouts 

2. Raisin fekkas 

3. Moroccan pastry with crème anglaise (ktefa) 

4. Almond ghoribas

These "very Moroccan" cookies are dead-easy to make, but still special with the addition of orange blossom water.

 

Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

 

Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.

Encaustic hexagonal tiles from Surface Gallery. Side plates and saucer from Mud. Diamond side plate from Citta. 

 

View previous Bakeproof columns and recipes.