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How to make these crunchy date-filled biscuits

Makrouta combines layer upon layer of flaky dough and sweetness
Makrouta is similar to maamoul biscuits but easier to make (@catastrophiccook/Instagram)

I have an obsession with maamoul, a date-filled biscuit, which ranks as my favourite thing about Ramadan and Eid. Every year I’d help my mom make it. We’d gather around the living room table at night and each have a certain task. The best part was that after a long day of fasting I could enjoy the delicate maamoul that came out of the oven.

But it was just so time consuming - so imagine my excitement when I was introduced to makrouta.

Makrouta is just as good as maamoul  but so much easier to bake. It consists of layers of flaky dough and sweet dates, with a touch of crunch coming from the sesame seeds, anise seeds and nigella seeds. You can also store it for up to one month in a sealed container.

This makrouta holds a special place in my heart because it’s one of the first things I made after getting married and moving. It was new to me and a tradition I could make my own.

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Servings: 1 sheet pan

Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour 

Date paste can be made by kneading dates (pixabay)

1. Ingredients

  • 500g (4 cups) flour
  • 165g (1 cup) semolina
  • 70g (½ cup) sesame seeds
  • 45g (½ cup) nigella seeds
  • 55g (½ cup) anise seeds
  • 3 tbsps baking powder
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 120ml (½ cup) vegetable oil
  • 115g (½ cup) melted butter
  • 235ml (1 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 235ml (1 cup) warm milk
  • 2 x 13 oz packs of dates
  • 2 tbsps olive oil or ghee

2. Method

  1. Mix the flour, semolina, sesame seeds, nigella seeds, anise seeds, baking powder and yeast.
  2. Pour the oils and butter on top of the flour mixture, and slowly begin mixing the dough until it’s evenly distributed. 
  3. As you’re mixing, slowly add the milk and let the dough come together.
  4. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  5. While the dough is resting, knead the dates and 2 tbsp oil together.
  6. Split the dough in half. On your baking tray, spread half the dough on to the sheet pan. It’s easier if you drop small amounts onto different areas and then spread till they all join up. 
  7. On a silicone baking mat or wax paper spread the dates into a thin layer, ensuring it is the same size as your baking sheet. (A silicone mat is easier to work with.)
  8. Flip the sheet of dates onto the layer of dough in the sheet pan and remove the silicone mat or wax paper. Just slowly peel it away. 
  9. Spread the second half of dough on to the silicone mat or wax paper and then flip it onto the layer of dates in the baking tray.
  10. You now will have a layer of dates inbetween the two layers of dough.
  11. Slice into little diamonds or squares.
  12. Bake at 175ºC (350ºF) for 30-35 mins until slightly golden.
  13. Allow to cool completely and serve it with tea.

You can follow Nur on her Instagram: @catastrophiccook or her blog.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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