These sweet pillows of crisp pastry, filled with a more-ish blend of honey, nuts, dates, seeds and spices, are a popular treat at Easter time on the Greek island of Crete. Serve them generously dusted with icing sugar, accompanied by a strong, dark, aromatic coffee.
- 1 egg, lightly whisked, to brush
- icing sugar, to dust
- ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1½ tbsp hot water
- 150 ml olive oil
- 60 ml (¼ cup) water
- 2 tbsp raki (see Baker’s Tips)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 375 g (2¾ cups) plain flour
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 90 g (60 ml/¼ cup) honey
- 60 ml (¼ cup) water
- 150 g walnuts, toasted and coarsely ground
- 100 g blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely ground
- 50 g (⅓ cup) sesame seeds, toasted and coarsely crushed with a mortar and pestle
- 150 g fresh dates, pitted, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time: 30 minutes
Resting time: 1 hour
To make the pastry, dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the hot water. Add to a large bowl with the olive oil, water, raki, egg yolk and sugar and use a fork to whisk to combine evenly. Use a wooden spoon and then your hands to gradually stir in the flour to form a soft, but not sticky, dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, to make the filing, combine the honey, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Combine the walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, dates, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Add the honey syrup and stir to form a thick paste. Set aside to cool completely (this will take about 30 minutes).
Preheat oven to 170°C (150°C fan-forced). Line two large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out a walnut-sized portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface until 3 mm thick. Use a 7.5 cm plain round cutter to trim the edges. Place 1½ tsp of the cooled filling on one side of the pastry round and then fold over the other half of the pastry to cover the filling. Press the edges together and then use a fork to press firmly to seal. Place on the lined trays. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling to make about 40 biscuits in total, re-rolling any pastry off-cuts, if necessary. Brush each with a little of the whisked egg.
Bake for 25 minutes or until deep golden and the pastry is cooked through. Cool on the trays (this will take about 30 minutes). Serve dusted with icing sugar.
• These biscuits will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Dust with a little more icing sugar to serve.
• Raki is an unsweetened alcohol popular in Greece and is often served as an aperitif. You will find it at good liquor supply stores.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
This recipe is part of our Bakeproof: Easter treats column.
View previous Bakeproof columns and recipes here.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. 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.