These could be found at Middle-Eastern stores in a plastic bag, imported from an Armenian bakery in California; I used to buy them, all the while lamenting that they did not taste fresh.
Instead of commiserating, I decided to make them; at least now they can be frozen and reheated any old morning at a moment’s notice.
INGREDIENTS: 30 large rolls (60 if smaller)
- 600 g. unbleached flour
- 1 Tablespoon of dry instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1/4 cup of warm water to proof the yeast
- 2/3 cup of fresh orange juice
- Unsalted butter, melted (40 g.)
- 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
- Sugar 100 g.
- Rind of 3 large oranges (40 g.)
- 1 teaspoon of mahlab
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 Large eggs
- 1 egg yolk mixed with a teaspoon of water to give the pastries shine
- 1 package of date paste (13 ounces)
- 3 Tablespoons of butter
- 1 teaspoon of orange blossom water
- 1/3 cup of toasted sesame seeds
NOTE: This dough can be divided in half and one half can be frozen and used with a different filling (I have made rolls with chocolate chips with the other half).
- Proof the yeast by stirring it in the bowl of warm water with sugar. Set the bowl aside to bubble and finish preparing the rest of the ingredients. Place the flour, sugar, mahlab, orange rind and salt in the bowl of a mixer or food processor. Mix until combined and add the melted butter and oil; mix until the flour is dampened throughout. Add the bubbled yeast, eggs and orange juice and mix until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.
- Transfer the dough to a work surface sprinkled with flour and knead a few seconds until a nice shiny ball forms. Cover with a damp towel and let it rise for an hour or two. Prepare the date paste by mixing it with butter and a touch of orange blossom water until shiny and smooth. Set aside in a bowl.
- Divide the dough in half, keeping one half to the side (you may end up freezing it and using it later). Cut the remaining ball of dough in small balls 4 inches across and roll out into a long ribbon; make it as small as possible if you want small pastries, or larger depending on your taste. Place a ribbon of date paste in the middle, enclose the dough and roll it out a bit to pinch the seams well. Brush with a beaten egg yolk ad sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cut the rope into one inch pieces and bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a preheated 350F oven for 15 or 20 minutes or until the pastries are crisp and golden; cool and serve; store in the fridge for several days in a tight box or in the freezer for weeks.
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