Another recipe dug up from Nawal Nasrallah’s Delights from the Garden of Eden. The name of these rolls is chureck, a Persian name meaning wheel. These rolls can be served plain or stuffed (with cheese or date paste). This particular one is called lover’s windows (shubbak el-habayeb).
I adapted Mrs. Nasrallah’s recipe by reducing the quantities listed (she calls for 10 cups of flour) and increasing the rising time. I wanted the bread to be more like a brioche with a billowy and soft interior.
These sweet breads give out the sweet and intoxicating aromas of cardamom and mahlab (as well as rose water and orange blossom); mahlab is sold online and at all Middle-Eastern or Greek markets. I recommend to get the seeds and grind them as needed in a coffee grinder.
These rolls go well with a slice of white cheese, be it goat cheese or mozzarella.
INGREDIENTS: 4 large loaves
- 1 cup milk (I used evaporated milk)+ 1/2 cup of milk or orange juice
- 1/4 cup oil or melted butter
- 3/4 cup of sugar (+1 tsp to activate the yeast)
- 4 egg yolks (original recipe calls for 1 whole egg)
- 1/2 tsp of rose water, 1/2 tsp of orange blossom water (optional)
- 1/2 tsp of cardamom
- 1/2 tsp of mahleb
- 1 tbsp of dry yeast
- 1/2 cup of warm water
- 5 cups of all-purpose flour (unbleached preferably)
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1 egg beaten to shine the pastries (with a teaspoon of water)
- 1/2 cup of toasted sesame and (or) nigella seeds (original recipe calls for sesame seeds only)
- Place the milk, sugar and oil in a saucepan; stir from time to time to dissolve the sugar and scald the milk; turn off the heat and keep warm.
- Place the warm water in a small bowl, add the dry yeast and sugar and stir to dissolve; cover and let it proof about 12 minutes.
- Beat the yolks in a bowl with the additional milk or orange juice, add the warm milk mixture as well as the rose and orange blossom water.
- Combine the flour, salt, mahlab and cardamom in a mixing bowl; add the proofed yeast and the egg mixture; mix the dough for at least 5 minutes. It will be sticky; transfer it to a bowl or a large plastic bag and let it rise overnight in the fridge or cover it and let it rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces; line baking sheets with parchment paper and taking one piece at a time, pat them with your fingers to produce the shape of a rectangle, about 10 inches long. Cut 4 slits on each corner with a knife and open them up with your fingers into the shape of “windows”. Let the rolls rest for 30 minutes or longer and right before baking, brush them with the egg yolk mixture and sprinkle them with sesame seeds.
- Bake in a 375F oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden and dry. Serve warm or at room temperature.
NOTE: Orange blossom water is used a lot in Lebanese cuisine and not so much in Iraqi cuisine which favors rose water. I like them both so I used them both.
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