Every year, I get so relieved the Christmas holiday is finally over, I forget one celebration that always brought us goodies when we were kids: Epiphany aka Ghtass. My grandmother would make fritters called ouwaymate and these zalebieh on the eve of January 6 of every year.
This is a healthier version of zalebieh, which is baked, not fried; in which sugar is replaced by molasses. Flavored with anise and olive oil and garnished with sesame and nigella seeds. Taste like a gingerbread, in bread not cake form.
See, this is to encourage good eating habits!
Nigella seeds is believed to aid in digestion. One of my friends will swallow a tablespoon of the black seeds every day for that purpose. She claims the seeds have never let her down.
- 1 cup of whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour (a few tablespoons more if the dough is sticky)
- 1 teaspoon of dry yeast
- 1 Tablespoon of ground anise
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, a pinch of salt
- 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/3 cup of date molasses (or other sweetener)
- 1/2 cup of milk
- toasted sesame seeds, nigella seeds, as needed
- Place the flours, the yeast, anise and cinnamon and dash of salt in the bowl of a mixer; mix for 30 seconds till the dry ingredients are well-incorporated. Add the olive oil and mix for a minute or so until the oil disappears and the texture is like coarse sand.
- Heat the milk in the microwave or on the stove until warm. Add the milk and the date molasses to the flour mixture and mix for a few minutes until the dough is compact, shiny and not sticky. You may need to add a few more tablespoons of flour at this point to achieve that.
- Cover the entire surface of the dough with a tablespoon of olive oil and place in a greased bowl; cover with a damp towel and place the dough in a warm place. (I have two ovens, so I place the lower one on very low setting and place the dough in the top oven. The residual heat helps with the rising). Give the dough a couple of hours or longer to rise.
- Plop the dough on a work surface; now either roll out and cut with a cookie cutter, the rim of a glass or use a wooden mold. If using a mold, take small pieces of dough, insert into the mold, press hard with the palm of your hand and tap the mold on the work surface to release the cookie.
- Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 15 to 25 minutes until dry and firm. Brush the cookies with a little molasses diluted in a couple of tablespoons of water if you wish to give them a shine. This step is optional. The cookies will keep for a week in a tin or a plastic container.
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