[Sca-cooks] 9th c. "Melting Moments" Cookies - help, please
lilinah at earthlink.net
lilinah at earthlink.net
Wed May 2 20:52:32 PDT 2012
Greetings to the List!
I've mentioned before that i cook feasts - and teach cooking classes - without pre-testing my worked out recipes - i can taste them in my mind. Out of at least 150 different recipes, i had a lentil dish that dissatisfied me because i felt it was under seasoned, and a Renaissance Italian chicken recipe that actually gave the amounts and did not turn out so well - i managed to salvage it so it was edible, but not really good.
However, i am not an intuitive baker. So far all my desserts have turned out well, but i'm feeling a bit insecure. I intend to test these recipes in the coming week, but would appreciate some hints. I hope experienced bakers on the list can give me some clues.
Here's one recipe. It actually gave quantities.
p. 418, Annals of the Caliphs' Kitchens, translation by Nawal Nasrallah
A recipe for exotic (gharib) khushkananaj Wathiqi by Abu Samin
Grind 3 ratls (3 pounds) refined sugar and sift it in a fine-mesh sieve (munkhul safiq). Add 1-1/2 ratls (1-1/2 pounds) fine samidh flour (high in starch and bran free). Mix them well. Add 1/4 ratl (1/2 cup) sesame oil and knead mixture the way you usually do with flour dough.
Put the mixture in a mortar (hawan) and pound it to crush ingredients into each other and help them bind.
Take a small bowl (uskurruja), the smallest you have, or anythings similar in shape such as a wooden or brass huqqa (bowl) with a rounded base and a wide rim. Stuff the bowl tightly with some of the sugar-flour mixture and turn it over onto a khiwan (wide low table). Do this with the rest of the mixture.
Prepare a large level pan with low sides and arrange the molded pieces, leaving a space between them.
Lower the pan into a slow-burning tannur. Let cookies bake until they are gold brown. Take the pan out and take the cookies out of the pan with a thin spatula (istam raqiq). You carefully slide the spatula underneath each cookie and transfer it to a clean platter. Arrange the pieces in one layer (yusaff), God willing.
My modernized version
3 lb. powdered sugar
-- depending on price i'll either buy it cornstarch-free or make my own
1-1/2 lb. pastry flour
1/2 c. (unroasted) sesame oil
Sift together sugar and flour.
Mix in sesame oil.
Knead well by hand to blend.
"beat in a mortar to mix well" - i'm thinking in a food processor with a dough blade. (i don't own a KitchenAid)
To make the little domes, i'll look for a silicone pan so i can form multiple domes at once, since i gotta make about 6 dozen and don't want to spend all of Friday making them. Form and turn out on baking sheet.
Failing that, i'll make balls and flatten the bottoms on the cookie sheet.
Bake until golden, at 350 F. for 12-15 min. (i'm near sea level)
Slide off sheet to cool.
Put 8 on each serving plate.
This reminded me of "Melting Moments" / "Russian Tea Cakes" / "Mexican Wedding Cakes".
1) Modern recipes i read used ratios of anywhere from 1 part powdered sugar to 5 parts of flour, up to equal amounts of each. This recipe uses twice as much sugar as four, so it may turn out quite different.
2) I'm doubting that 1/2 c. oil will merge everything together.
3) I suspect the flavor would be enhanced by a few pinches of salt.
But i am not an intuitive baker, so i would appreciate any advice and suggestions. My thanks in advance.
And a couple more sweets recipes will follow.
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita
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