This is an Arts and Sciences entry into the Barony of Krae Glas’ Twilight Tourney.
A dessert served on a Constantinople table
Entry by Miriam bat Shimeon.
Based on “A recipe for stuffed cookies (halwa mahshuwwa), delicious and unusual (tarifa)”:
Take equal amounts almonds, pistachio and hazelnut. Shell them finely ground them and add equal amount of sugar. Miz and moisten the ingredients with rose water you have dissolved a lump of musk.
Make dough with fine smidh flour (high in starch and bran free), milk, sesame oil and yeast. When dough ferments, flatten portions into small discs, using a rolling pin. Line a concave mold (qalab) carved into decorative shapes (suwar al-tamathil) with a flattened disc and fill the cavity with some of the sugar nut mixture. Put another flattened disc on the filling and seal the edges. Take the cookie out of the mold [and repeat with the rest of the dough].
[Bake the cookies] by sticking them to the inner wall of the tannur. Alternatively you can arrange them in a shallow copper pan with a handle similar to that of a bucket (satl). Lower the pan into the tannur and cover its upper opening with a lid for a short while [to create moisture then remove it]. When the cookies are done, [take them out and] serve them while still hot.
You also have the choice to put some fat in the pan [before lowering it into the tannur]. When the cookies come out of the oven and while still hot, dip them in ‘asal mutaffa [purified honey in boiled water] which has been skimmed and scented with aromatic spices (mutayyab). Let the cookies absorb the syrup then take then out and arrange them on a platter. Sprinkle them with sugar and serve them. This variety (hadha al-fann) is called raghunin ratb muluki (royal moist cookies), so know this, God willing.”
This recipe comes from the Annals of the Caliph’s Kitchens as translated by Nawal Nasrallah (page 426-7). This is a translation of a 10th century cookbook called the al Baghdadi. It was written by a man named Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq with only a few manuscripts around, the most whole manuscript being a copy dated 1270 in the Topkapi Saray Museum in Istanbul.
100g ground almonds
100g ground pistachios
100g ground hazelnuts
100g raw caster sugar
7ml rose water
I blitz them all together in a mixer, until they looked like fine breadcrumbs.
3c plain flour
2 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
7g powdered yeast
2 tablespoon sesame oil
200g warm water
1 tablespoon milk
I put all these ingredients into my bread making machine on the pizza dough setting. These values are based on recommended recipes from the instruction manual. It took 2 hours to make the dough. I didn’t rest it, as the recipe states the dough is used straight away. I had a wooden mold, which had been washed and oiled with sesame oil. I then used this to form the cookies. This is it, being oiled with sesame oil.
This is it in the process of being stuffed. It is around one heaped teaspoon of the nut and sugar mixture.
I placed them on a tray and baked them. At the pastry setting on my oven for just over ten minutes at 200 degrees. I glazed them with melted butter as the recipe calls for a fat.
1 teaspoon mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.
Boiled together in a pot, although most honey now has been pasteurised and therefore no need to skim.
The syrup was poured hot over the cookies, which aids the absorption. They were then sprinkled with raw caster sugar lightly.
This is the cookies half glazed.
Things for next time
1)The dough (being yeast based) must be baked immediately. I left some waiting to be baked on the tray and they now look like scones.
2)The dough must be rolled out very thinly. Very elastic dough- it pulled back as soon as it was cut.
3)Drop the nut mixture right down. The total could be 50:50:50:50 with 2ml rosewater so less leftover.
Sorry there is no picture for the serving but they all vanished within 15 minutes! Best served hot. For this entry I won a ring from the hand of Baroness Elspeth Caerwent herself.
“Annals of the Caliph’s Kitchen” translated by Nawal Nasrallah. Brill, 2010. ISBN: 9789004188112.