Baklava – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #59

What’s the best baklava you’ve ever had? Was a Greek or Lebanese baklava? Come to think of it – is it baklava or baklawa? A couple of years ago on a visit to Melbourne I had the most delicious baklava ever from a Greek stall at the Queen Victoria markets. The flavours had melded together beautifully, it was crisp and not too sweet.

This recipe, from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent comes close.  I think the difference is the clarified butter. Clarified butter is easy to make at home. Here is a good explanation of how to clarify butter or you can find it in most supermarkets.

Baklava is a great do ahead recipe. In fact, it tastes better the next day. It keeps well in the refrigerator for a least a week. Greg says to store it a room temperature but I don’t know about your place but here in tropical North Queensland nothing lasts very long left in our steamy room temperature.

Which is your favourite baklava shop?



Baklava adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent


3 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons orange flower water
1 tablespoon  fresh lemon juice


500g/1lb walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons orange flower water

To assemble

340g/3 sticks unsalted butter, clarified
500g/1lb phyllo dough, thawed if frozen

Make the syrup: combine the sugar and water in a pan and set it over a medium heat. Bring it to the boil stirring occasionally. Then cover with a lid, reduce the heat (so it doesn’t boil over) and simmer for 3 minutes. Uncover, keep it simmering and cook until the syrup reaches 95C or 200F. Remove the pan from the heat and add the orangeflower water and the lemon juice. Allow to cool and refrigerate it. It should be a pourable consistency not as thick as honey. Add a little water if it is too thick. Keep refrigerated.

Make the filling: process walnuts in the food processor in batches until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the sugar and orangeflower water. Set it aside until you are ready.

To assemble: Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Brush a 33 x 22 cm baking pan (13 x 9 inch) with clarified butter. Place 1 phyllo sheet in the pan and brush lightly with butter, fold in the overhanging edges of dough. Repeat again until you have used half of the dough. Sprinkle the walnut filling evenly over the pastry. Then repeat the layering and buttering of the remaining phyllo. With a sharp knife cut through the pastry right down to the base forming diamonds or whatever shape and size you want the finished pieces to be. Pour any remaining butter into the cuts.



Bake the baklawa for 30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 150C/300F until brown and crispy, another 45 to 60 minutes. Take the baklawa out of the oven and immediately pour over the cold syrup. Let it stand for 2 or 3 hours, even overnight, before serving



Torta Della Nonna – The Daring Kitchen November, 2016 Challenge

For the month of November we at the Daring Kitchen were challenged by Ginger-Z to make the delicious Torta della Nonna.  This humble Italian cake is seen in many variations, single crusted and double crusted. Many years ago I had clipped a recipe from an Australian magazine Home Beautiful. Actually the clipping is dated 1993! Oops, never got around to making it. For my version, I added a layer of Nutella at the bottom of the pastry and I mean, what is not made better with Nutella! Very similar to Gâteau Basque which featured in “Cucina” over a year ago.

I am sad to report that this will be the second last Daring Kitchen challenge. Daring Kitchen has been an important part of my baking life since 2009 and was the catalyst for starting this blog. Daring Kitchen will close it’s doors following the December challenge. It is with this amazing group of people that I have learnt many baking skills – puff pastry, macarons, croissants, many tortes and delicious treats from around the world. Daring Kitchen will be missed.

Torta della Nonna


2 1/2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup castor sugar
4 tablespoons plain flour
Nutella, as desired
slivered almonds for topping


2 cups flour
pinch salt
2 egg yolks
125g butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the custard, heat the milk and vanilla bean until just starts to boil. Set aside to cool slightly. Beat the egg yolks and sugar well until light and creamy. Stir in the flour. With a whisk gradually add in the warm milk. Strain the milk mixture back into the saucepan. Return to the heat and stir until it thickens. Boil for about a minute to cook the flour. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl covering with plastic wrap touching the custard to prevent a skin forming.

To make the pastry, in a food processor place the flour, salt, egg yolks, butter, sugar and vanilla. Process until the mixture just starts to come together. Remove and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.

When ready, grease a 20cm pie plate and preheat the oven to 180C. Divide the dough in two pieces, with on slightly larger. Roll out the larger piece between to pieces of non stick baking paper until large enough to fit the pie plate. Carefully lift the pastry and press into the pie plate, trimming the edges. Spread the base with Nutella, as much as you wish, then top with the prepared custard. Brush the edges with water. Roll out the second piece of pastry as you did with the first and fit over the custard, pressing the edges to seal and then trim off excess. Brush the top with water and sprinkle with slivered almonds. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Allow to cool and dust with abundant icing sugar. Serve at room temperature or chilled.



Pumpkin Empanadas for Thanksgiving – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #54

Baking is like a journey, isn’t it?
You are at the wheel and you can steer it in any direction you choose. That’s the best part.
It can be a trip to your favourite place, taken in luxury and comfort or it can be an adventure, taking the back roads and visiting the unknown and the unfamiliar.
For me, this recipe was the latter. And I didn’t think I would like this adventure very much at all!
In sunny North Queenland we are enjoying a glut of gorgeous yellow pumpkins. There are pumpkin soups, pumpkin scones and pumpkin cakes. But this is not the land of pumpkin pies and empanadas. So this journey was approached with just a tad of trepidation.
Guess what? These empanadas are delicious!
Here’s the recipe adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent.
Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends! 
Pumpkin Empanadas (adapted  from“A Baker’s Odyssey” by Greg Patent)
Makes 20 pastries (or more depending on the size)
Filling: can be made the day before
1kg Jap pumpkin or pumpkin of your choice
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
3 cups plain flour, plus more as needed
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
170g  butter
1/4 cup castor sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 large egg
1/2 cup warm milk
milk for brushing and raw sugar for sprinkling
Make the filling:
Cut the (unpeeled) pumpkin into large chunks, remove the seeds and fibres. Place in a microwave safe bow,l add a little water, cover loosely with plastic wrap and microwave for 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from the microwave and allow to cool a little. Or steam if that’s what you prefer.
Remove the skin.. Place the pumpkin to a pot and add the cinnamon stick and sprinkle on the brown sugar and add the salt. Set the pot over a medium heat. Stir to combine, the pumpkin will break up. Allow to come to a simmer. Stir occasionally and cook for 20-30 minutes until the the mixture is thick and the liquid has almost completely absorbed.
Remove from heat and discard the cinnamon stick. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and cloves.  Puree in a food processor or with a stick blender. Let it cool completely.
Make the dough
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
With a electric mixer (or by hand if you like) beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, less than a minute. Add the sugar, cinnamon and cloves and beat well.
Add the egg and beat for a minute.On low speed mix in the flour in 3 additions alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour. Mix only until just combined.
If the dough is too dry add a little more milk or if too sticky add a little more flour. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest 30 minutes to an hour.
Heat the oven to 190C/375F
Prepare a couple of large baking trays by lining with baking paper.
The recipe suggests dividing the dough into 20 pieces and making 5 inch circles. I thought this would be too large so I made smaller circles of about 3 1/2 inch circles. 
Roll out the dough and cut circles of your choice. There is no need to flour the surface unless the dough is particularly sticky.
Place a little of the filling on each circle of dough slightly off center, then fold dough over and press edges with tines of a fork.

 Transfer to baking sheet, spacing a little apart. Once all the empanadas are on the sheets, brush each one with milk and make a slit with a knife in the tops.

Bake until deep golden brown. My smaller ones took only 30 minutes but larger ones could take 40-45 minutes.
Cool a little on baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Nutella Puff Pastry Flower

Do you consider yourself a good baker? Or do all of those measurements and precision get to you?
If you fall into the latter, then this recipe is for you!
Read on and impress! 

First preheat you oven to 220C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
All you need is three sheets of frozen puff pastry. Allow  to thaw and use a large plate to cut a circle out of each of the sheets.  Start assembling on the lined baking tray. Spread one circle of pastry with Nutella, top with another pastry circle. Spread that one with Nutella and top with a pastry sheet. You will have two layers of Nutella and three layers of pastry.

Now take a glass and push it lightly into the centre. With a sharp knife cut first into quarters. Cut each quarter in half to make eighths then each of those in half to make sixteen cuts.

Lift each piece and twist twice. Yep, this bit gets messy! When you have finished, brush with egg wash.

 Bake for 20-30 minutes until well browned and puffed.

Dust with icing sugar and enjoy! 

Norwegian Fattigman – A Baker’s Odyssey Challenge #48

A fried pastry is always good! Many traditional cuisines fry pastry for special occasions. In the Italian tradition the fried thin pastry goes by many names crostoli, cenci, galani, sfrappole, bugie, stracci… the list seems endless. In Australia for some reason we have renamed the Italian fried pastry – storch…perhaps a form of stracci! In any case, I’m not making Italian fried pastry! I am making Norwegian fried pastry called Fattigman which is flavoured with cardamom. This recipe is the 48th recipe I have made from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent.


6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon brandy
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups plain flour
oil for deep frying

Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and continue to beat for another 5 minutes until the mixture is thick. On a low speed add in the butter, brandy, vanilla, cardamom and salt.

In a small bowl beat the cream until it thickens a little. Fold in the egg mixture and then with a wooden spoon mix in the flour. It will be a thick, sticky dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day prepare to fry the fattigman. I used a deep frying pan which I filled with oil to about 2 – 3cm of oil. Use a deep fry thermometer to ensure the oil stays between 180C – 190C and heat the oil as you roll out the dough.

Dust a work surface with flour and divide the dough into quarters. Take one quarter and keep the others covered so they don’t dry out. Dust with flour and roll out the portioned dough until very thin. It should be no more the 1/16 of an inch which is about 1.5mm. If you can get it thinner, all the better.
Flour the work surface to prevent sticking.

Traditionally fattigman is cut into large diamond shapes

with a slit in the middle of each piece.

The tip on the diamond is pulled through the slit. However I think it is perfectly ok to cut the fattigman anyway you wish,

Lower each pastry into the hot oil. Wait about 5 seconds then flip them over to brown on the other side. Flip them over again after about 5 or 10 seconds and keep repeating until the fattigman are blistery all over. It should only take 30 seconds in all. Remove to paper towel to drain.

Repeat with all the dough,

It is not traditional but you can give them a dusting of powdered sugar before serving.

These will keep for 2 to 3 weeks in an airtight container.

Samosas – A Baker’s Odyssey Personal Challenge #40

Growing up in an Italian household one would never think curries were even thought of. However my Italian parents seemed to acquire a taste for curry and a tin of Keen’s Curry Powder was ever present. In fact, my father made a great prawn curry which everyone loved. And so it is that I have never lost my taste for curry spices.
As I continue my slow journey cooking through this wonderful book by Greg Patent, I find myself gravitating towards recipes with spice such as this delicious recipe for samosas. Greg tells us that this pastry recipe by Bipin Patel is not a traditional one. Bipin likes to add cabbage and corn. I substituted carrots for the peas and parsley for the cilantro (coriander). But it would seem, whichever combination you choose, these spicy vegetable samosas are enjoyed by everyone.

Samosas adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent

500g/ 1lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/2 to 1 tablespoon finely chopped chilli
2 teaspoons garam marsala
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped cabbage
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup corn kernels
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped spring onions

1 1/2 cups atta flour ( or 3/4 cup wholewheat flour plus 3/4 plain flour)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup tepid water

Vegetable oil for frying

Boil the potatoes in salted boiling water for about 8 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the mustard seeds and fry off until they pop which should only be a matter of seconds. Add the cumin to brown a little but careful not to burn them. Quickly add the onion, stir and cook until tender, 3 or 4 minutes. Don’t allow to brown.

Add the ginger, chilli, garam marsala, tumeric and salt. Cook for 5 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the cabbage and allow to wilt for 5 minutes or so. Add in the potatoes, carrots, corn and lemon juice. Cook for a few minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir through the parsley and spring onions. With the back of the spoon crush the potatoes a little. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You might need a little more lemon juice.
Allow to cool. This can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the oil and rub into the flour. Gradually add the water, mixing with a fork until the mixture clumps. I needed more water to bring the dough together. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic. Allow to rest at room temperature for about 1 hour. This can also be made ahead and refrigerated but allow to come to room temperature before using.

To prepare the samosas:
Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a log about 20cm (8 inches) long. Cut each log into 8 equal pieces and roll into balls. Allow to rest for 10 minutes covered with a tea towel.
Have ready a small cup of water and little extra flour. Lightly flour a ball of dough and press out with your fingers to a 5 to 7 cm (2 to 3 inch) circle. Then roll out to about 15 cm (6 inches) with the rolling pin, flour if necessary. Cut the circle in half.

Now you need to shape each semicircle into a cone. Dampen half of the straight edge with water, bring the other half of the straight edge over it to overlap. Press to seal. Holding the in one hand as in the photo, spoon a generous amount of filling in but  don’t overfill and pack it lightly.

Dampen the edges of the dough and bring together to seal and form the triangle samosa shape. Cute, aren’t they?
And so continue until all the pastry has been used up. If you happen to have leftover filling it is delicious served with yoghurt.. Allow the samosas to dry for an hour or so, turning them over once or twice and checking that they are well sealed.

When ready to fry heat the oil and fry a few at a time until bubbled and browned. I shallow fried but Greg recommends deep frying for even browning and crisping.

Either way the samosas are yummy!

Spinach and Cheese Katmer Pie

I’m not a very competitive person but when it comes to cooking and baking I’m always tempted by a challenge which is why I back in 2009 I joined the Daring Bakers. Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks belonged to the online baking group The Daring Kitchen. Over the years the group has grown and together learnt many challenging techniques and discovered wonderful recipes from around the world. As we move forward this year, we have condensed to just one group The Daring Kitchen which may present baking as well as cooking challenges. I notice that this group’s popularity is waning a little. Maybe it’s had it’s day, maybe there are no more challenges exciting enough (I doubt that!) or maybe this is just a lull. Or perhaps like me life is busy and it becomes more and more difficult to bake and post challenges as much as one would like. In any case I do still enjoy the challenges and I have good intentions of baking and posting on time, even if it doesn’t happen often.

This month Milkica from Mimi’s Kingdom  presented a recipe for Katmer pie. This is a traditional recipe from southern Serbia which can be made with either a savoury or sweet filling. Katmer pastry is an old variation of puff pastry usually made with lard but other options are available such as butter or oil. I found the pastry quite easy but mine pie didn’t have the puff and layers it should have so maybe I did something wrong! It was delicious though filled with spinach and cheese.  Many thanks to Milkica for introducing a traditional recipe from Serbia.

Katmer Pie with Spinach and Cheese



One large pie baked in a dish approximately 16 x 16” / 40 x 40cm (enough for family of six)


4 cups spooned & scraped / 500g all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups / 300 – 350ml warm water
More all-purpose (plain) flour for dusting
2 – 3 tablespoons / 30 – 45g soft lard


1. Measure all purpose flour, warm water and salt. Put lard in a small bowl and leave on a warm place.

2. Mix all ingredients except lard in glass or plastic bowl. You will have relatively soft dough.

3. Transfer dough on a floured surface and knead it a little until you achieve elastic, but soft dough.

4. Dough should look as on this picture. Maybe you’ll need additional 6 tablespoons / 50g of flour.

5. Divide dough in six equal pieces and shape every piece in round form. Leave them to rest 10 minutes.

6. Using rolling pin roll every piece of dough into flat, round shape, approximately 1/8” / 3 – 4mm thick. Divide pieces in two groups of three. Brush first piece of dough with melted lard and cover with another piece of dough. Brush second piece of dough with lard and cover with third piece. Do not brush this third piece of dough with lard! Repeat the same with another three pieces of dough.

7. You will have two piles of dough pieces. Leave them again to rest for 10 minutes.

8. Roll every pile using rolling pin into round shape, approximately 1/4 – 1/3” / 5 – 8mm thick.

 9. Using sharp knife make eight cuts around the formed circle

10. Brush surface with melted lard.

11. Fold brushed, cut petals into middle part of dough

12. Continue until you fold all eight of them.

13. Turn the dough so the folded parts are underneath. Do the same with another pile of dough. Leave both pieces of dough to rest until you prepare the filling.

Spinach and Cheese Filling

Given recipe yields enough for one Katmer pie.


1 pound / 500g spinach
2 cups / 500g soft cottage cheese (or ricotta)
1 cup grated tasty cheese
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt (amount depends on cheese you use, you should try prepared filling and add more salt if necessary)


1. Prepare all ingredients.
2. Cut spinach into strips and steam until softened. Cool and place it in bowl. Add remaining ingredients

 3. Mix all ingredients using spoon or your hands. Filling one is ready.

To assemble pie:

1. Turn on your oven on 350F / 180C / Gas Mark 4. Roll one of the pieces of dough on lightly floured surface into large, square or rectangular shape to fit your baking tin.

2. Transfer layer of dough on baking tin brushed with melted lard.

3. Arrange your filling all over the first layer of dough.

4. Roll out the other piece of dough and transfer it to baking tin, covering filling completely. Press edges with your fingers to stick together.

5. Brush surface of pie with melted lard.

6. Cut whole pie into small square pieces.  Bake pie in preheated oven around 30 minutes until deep golden in color.

Gateaux Pithiviers – December 2015 daring bakers’ challenge

  For the month of December, Kat challenged us to make Gateaux Pithiviers. 

Yep, I’m late!
It’s the second day of January and I am posting this December challenge for Daring Bakers.
Daring Bakers is an online baking group I joined back in 2009. I have enjoyed baking with this amazing group who have taught me the intricacies of macarons and croquembouche as well as taking me baking to Palestine, Hungary, France and Austria just to name a few. Over the years I have noticed the members participation start to wane a little. I too, find it sometimes difficult to complete a challenge and post every month. But I am not giving up just a little late!
If you enjoy a baking and cooking challenge please head over to the Daring Bakers and join us!

So this time, it was back to puff pastry. I can tell you in the heat of a tropical summer this is no easy feat. The freezer becomes my best friend…in goes the dough, board and rolling pin…the whole lot…it’s the only way.
With this homemade puff pastry we made a delicious French pastry Gateaux Pithivier also called King’s Cake with a small token traditionally baked into the almond filling. Whoever gets the token in their slice is King for the Day!

Kat supplied a recipe but gave us free reign to use our own puff pastry recipe if we preferred. In a previous Daring Bakers challenge hosted by Steph of Whisk and a Spoon the puff pastry recipe was by Michel Richard as the recipe appears in Baking with Julia. Watch with video as Michel demonstrates the recipe.

I just used the freezer to keep everything very cold in the hope to combat the ferocious heat we have been experiencing.

I used half of the dough to roll out and cut two 9 inch rounds for the Gateaux. The remainder is chilling in the freezer until I decide what I will make with it.

This is the recipe for the Frangipane however I found it not firm enough so added a little more ground almond and a spoonful of plain flour. For this purpose I think the frangipane should be refrigerated overnight so that it firms up.

1½ cups blanched almonds ( which I weighed to be 225g), toasted
⅓ – ½ cup (65-100g) granulated sugar, depending on your sweetness preference
4 Tbsp. (55g) butter
2 large eggs
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. almond extract
zest from 1 lemon or ½ an orange or 2 tangerines
2 Tbsp. Armangac or Rum.

To make the frangipane, grind the almonds. Mix the ground almonds with the remaining ingredients. If necessary, add a little more almond meal to thicken to that the paste can be shaped into a 6″ disc. It will be fairly loose. Chill at least 30 minutes.

PReheat the oven to 180C/350F

Spoon enough of the frangipane in the centre of your round leaving about 1 inch of dough all around. Brush the dough with egg wash and centre the second round of dough over the frangipane and press firmly to seal.

With a small sharp knife cut a decorative pattern on the pastry only cutting  partly through the dough. With the back of your knife mark all around the edges to give a scalloped effect.

Bake in your preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes until well risen and browned. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with powdered sugar and place under a grill to caramelize and brown the sugar giving a glossy surface.

Ricotta Crumble Tart – November 2015 daring bakers’ challenge

 For the month of November Krista and Nicole of “Two Cups of Sugar.”challenged us to make our own version of cheesecake crumble pie.

Cheesecake crumble pie? Sounds rich? Yep, you bet!
 My take on this challenge was to attempt to lighten the dessert by using ricotta for the filling. Ricotta is a wonderful cheese to use in sweet and savoury dishes.  It is lighter in texture and fat than cream cheese and a good source of protein and calcium so makes a great filling for a cheesecake. I had never thought to top it with a crumble but why not and I think it was very successful! Thank you Krista and Nicole of Two Cups of Sugar for hosting this challenge.
To flavour the ricotta filling I delved into my freezer for the glace fruit I have purchased some time ago. These gorgeous little glace oranges would be perfect. So the flavour was decided – orange, dark chocolate with an almond crumble.

Orange, Dark Chocolate and Almond Ricotta Crumble Tart
 (recipe loosely adapted from this recipe from Mindfood)


1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup almond meal
125 g butter, diced
1 egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons chilled water

Process the flour and almond meal with the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs in a food processor. Add the yolk and pulse to combine. Add a little bit of water will the processor is running until the dough comes together in a rough ball. Turn it our onto a floured board and knead lightly until it just comes together. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour. Grease a 23cm flan tin with a removable base. Roll out the dough to 3mm thickness between two sheets of baking paper. Line the flan tin with the pastry. This is a very short pastry and for me, it fell apart as I lined the flan tin. However it was easy to patch up here and there. Put in the freezer for 10 minutes. In the meantime preheat the oven to 200C. I actually left the pastry shell in the freezer overnight until I was ready to bake it the next day. Blind bake for 10 minutes them remove paper and weights and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool. Reduce oven temperature to 180C.


500g ricotta
1/2 cup castor sugar
3/4 cup mascarpone
2 eggs
80g dark chocolate, chopped
140g glace orange
50ml Amaretto liqueur
1 tablespoon cornflour

Process the ricotta and sugar in the food processor until smooth. Add the eggs and whizz until mix in well. Add the Amaretto and cornflour and process to mix. Remove the mixture to a bowl and stir in the dark chocolate and glace orange.

Spoon into the prepare pastry shell and smooth the surface. Bake for 15 minutes.

In the meantime prepare the crumble

1/3 cup plain flour
60g butter
1/3 cup almonds
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Place all ingredients into a processor . Process to combine and roughly chop almonds.

Sprinkle crumble onto the tart and return to bake for another 30 minutes. Turn the oven off. Leave oven door ajar and cool the cheesecake for one hour. Remove from the oven.

Cool before chilling for at least 2 hours. Enjoy!

Yafawi Sfeeha – July 2015 daring bakers’ challenge

The July daring Baker’s Challenge was brought to us by Manal from Manal’s Bites. She introduced us to an authentic Palestinian dish from Jaffa that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup of salad. The “Yafawi Sfeeha” or also known as “Milwayeh” which means twisted, is crispy yet tender and full of flavor.

This month we were introduced to an authentic filled pastry from Palestine by our host Manal from Manal’s Bites. The tender dough is stretched thinly with ghee then filled, rolled and baked to produce delicious savoury or sweet pastries. First I tackled the meat filling using beef however the recipe require 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses. Checking out the price in the store I found a bottle of pomegranate molasses retailed at AUD$17.00! Eeeeekkkk! But I did find a bottle of pomegranate juice for AUD$4.00 at the supermarket so with the juice in hand I googled and produced my own pomegranate molasses. I’m not sure if I could detect the flavour in the finished pastries but just the look of the sticky, shiny molasses made me feel good!

Next I made Sweet Walnut Sfeeha dusted with sugar. I think they should have been dunked in the sugar syrup because they were a bit dry. Nice with a cup of tea, though!

Many thanks to our host, Manal and please check out more Yafawi Sfeeha here at Daring Bakers’!

Pomagranate Molasses (based on this recipe from Tori Avey)

  • 2 cups pure 100% pomegranate juice (bottled or fresh)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 40mls freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat up over medium until the sauce begins to simmer lightly. Stir to dissolve sugar. Allow the liquid to simmer very lightly for 40 – 60 minutes, stirring every regularly, until the liquid reduces by 75%.
The molasses will be ready when it has a light syrupy consistency and coats the back of a spoon. Don’t let it thicken too much, or it will harden into toffee when it cools.
Remove from heat. The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools.
After the syrup cools completely, store it in an airtight jar or container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

Yafawi Sfeeha
Servings: 15-18 pieces
To make the dough:
3 cups (750 ml) (420 gm) (15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, scoop flour using cup measure then level
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) sugar
3 tablespoons (45 ml) powdered milk (you can substitute this with warm milk, you will need less water if using milk)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
About 1 cup (250 ml) warm water for kneading
Melted ghee (or olive oil) to stretch the dough (ghee gives a great texture and flavor).
1.Mix flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and vegetable oil then start adding the warm water until you get a tender and slightly sticky dough. Kneading will take about 8 min on a stand-up mixer or 12 min by hand. you might need more depending on where you live and the kind of flour you are using).
2.Form the dough into small golf-ball-sized balls. Place on a baking sheet that is very well greased with ghee or olive oil and pour some more (oil or ghee) over dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for few hours at least (or overnight).
3.Prepare filling in the meantime.

Meat filling

1 pound (500 grams) ground beef, lamb or a mix of both
1 medium onion, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Middle Eastern 7 spice blend ( recipe here) or you can just use ½ teaspoon all-spice and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon.)
1 teaspoon sumaq (A Middle Eastern deep red colored and sour flavored spice) (or substitute with ¾ teaspoon lemon zest and ¼ teaspoon pepper)
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (see my homemade molasses above)
½ cup (120 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) toasted pine nuts (optional)


In a skillet over medium heat, cook meat until no longer pink and water has evaporated, add onion and cook till it becomes tender (around 3 minutes). Season the mixture and add spices; it will be very fragrant now. Remove off heat and add sumaq and pomegranate molasses. Add toasted pine nuts if using. Let the filling cool completely before stuffing Sfeeha

After you have your filling ready, use some of the ghee to brush a round tray (the surface that you will be working on). Take one piece of dough and using your hands, gently start spreading it as thinly and evenly as possible.

Once that is done fold the upper side to the middle, then fold the opposite side to the middle as well.

Spread your filling in a long line across the dough. Roll like a long tight rope making sure that it is tight enough to ensure no filling escapes.

 Then taking one end start rolling the rope towards the inside in a spiral shape

Put some more ghee on your baking sheet and place the done Sfeeha onto the baking sheet. Continue making the rest of your Sfeeha using ghee to keep it nice and moist.

Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and bake Sfeeha for 15-20 minutes till golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature with a bowl of soup during winter or a salad and Greek yogurt in summer time.

Sweet Walnut Sfeeha


2 cups (500 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) walnuts, coarsely chopped, (you can use any sort of nut you wish)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ tablespoon orange blossom water
½ tablespoon rose water


Mix all ingredients together and your filling is done.

For serving: Powdered sugar or sugar syrup

Sugar Syrup


2 cups (500 ml) (400 gm) (14 oz) sugar
1½ cup (375 ml) water
Juice of half a lemon
½ tablespoon orange blossom water (optional)


Mix sugar and water over high heat in a stainless steel pot. Don’t stir. Once it comes to a boil stir with a wooden spoon to ensure all sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Remove off heat and add orange blossom water if using.

Note: Once you have the sweet ones baked and hot pour some cold sugar syrup over them or let them cool off and dust with powdered sugar..

I dusted mine with powdered sugar.