My journey to Morocco a couple of years back left me deeply impressed with the hospitality and friendliness of its people. The customs of hospitality particularly include the offer of refreshments upon entering someone’s home – no matter how lavish or humble -, often mint tea accompanied by biscuits, so it is hardly surprising that I took away from my travel a distinct liking for the delicious Moroccan tea bakes so amply offered and available.
The baking process of these traditional biscuits called fekkas or fakkas is more or less identical to Italian cantuccini, but the flavor springing from roasted sesame seed, orange blossom water, star anise and toasted almond will take your taste buds onto a journey deep into the Maghreb.
- 100 grams of brown almonds
- 40 grams of sesame seeds (peeled)
- 3 medium eggs
- 110 grams of Muscovado sugar
- 115 grams of butter, very soft
- 2 tablespoons of orange blossom water
- seeds of 1 vanilla pod (alternatively several drops of vanilla aroma)
- 1 ground star anise
- 400 grams of (cake) flour (German type 405)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 tip of a knife of salt
- For the glaze: 1 small egg, 1 tablespoon of water, 1 teaspoon of icing sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Spread the almond on an oven tray and roast in the oven for 5 minutes. Let cool down completely. Chop roughly.
- In a non-stick frying pan, lightly roast the sesame seed on medium to high heat (no oil added!). Set aside and let cool down completely.
- Beat the eggs with the sugar until creamy.
- Beat in the butter, the orange blossom water and the vanilla seeds.
- Pass the flour and the baking powder through a fine sieve. Together with the salt, fold into the egg mix, and beat approximately 1 to 2 more minutes with an electric mixer until well mixed.
- With a wooden spoon or a dough spatula, gently fold in the chopped almonds and the sesame seeds until just mixed. Cover with cellophane and refrigerate for approximately 1 to 2 hours in order to allow the flavors to infuse properly.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Take the dough out of the fridge, and divide into two parts. Form two rolls of dough approximately 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter. Place the dough rolls next to one another on a baking tray covered with a baking mat. Leave some space between them. Then gently press down the top of the rolls so they will take an oval form.
- For the glaze, shortly beat the egg with the water and the sugar and brush a thin coat of the egg wash onto the dough rolls.
- Bake the rolls for approximately 15 to 20 minutes in the oven until they take a light brown color.
- Reduce the temperature to 100 degrees Celsius (let the oven cool down completely before continuing the baking process!). In the meantime, let the dough rolls cool down until they do not feel warm anymore.
- With a sharp knife, cut the rolls into approximately 1 cm thick slices. Place the slices next to one another with the cut side facing up onto baking trays.
- Let the biscuits dry in the oven for approximately 45 to 50 minutes.
- Turn off the oven and open the oven door, and continue drying with the oven turned off for approximately 2 to 4 hours.
- Store the bisuits in an airtight container – they keep well for several weeks.