Monday, July 21, 2014

These little cookies must get their name from the “runner” chickens also called fekkas, for they are tough little things with a good taste. They are very popular for tea dunking, doubtless because they can stand the heat.

Working time: 40 minutes
Rising time: 1½ to 2 hours
Baking time: 30 minutes

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 to 3¼ cups pastry flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup sweet butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 scant tablespoon aniseed
  • 1 scant tablespoon sesame seeds (toasted, optional)
  • ¼ cup orange flower water
  1. The day before, soak the yeast in ¼ cup lukewarm water until bubbly.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, 1¼ cups sugar, the bubbling yeast, cooled melted butter and spices in the large mixing bowl. Stir in the orange flower water and then enough lukewarm water to form a firm dough. 
  3. Knead well until smooth, then turn out onto a board dusted with more confectioners’ sugar. 
  4. Break into 4 portions. 
  5. Roll each into a ball and cover.
  6. Take one of the balls and shape the dough into a 1-inch-thick cylinder by rolling back and forth with some force. 
  7. The dough will be sticky at first, but after some strong, firm rolling with palms down it will start to stretch as you slide your palms toward the ends to lengthen the mass. 
  8. Stretch and roll the dough until you have a 10-to 12-inch cylinder of even thickness. 
  9. Repeat with the remaining balls. 
  10. Place on the baking sheets, cover with towels, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume. 
  11. When doubled, prick each tube with a fork to deflate.
  12. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  13. Bake the tubes 20 minutes, or until barely golden. (They should not be cooked through.) 
  14. Remove from the oven and let cool on racks overnight.
  15. The following day, slice the cylinders crosswise into very thin cookies and arrange flat on ungreased baking sheets. 
  16. Bake in a 350° oven until pale golden brown and dry, about 10 minutes. 
  17. When cool, store in airtight tins.
Ghoriba cookies are based on semolina flour (hard wheat), which has its own marvelous taste and texture. These are lovely light cookies, sugar-dipped, the size of half-dollars.

Working time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 15 to 18 minutes
Makes: 3½ dozen cookies

  • Sweet butter
  • ¼ cup salad oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 22/3 cups semolina flour
  • 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  1.  Heat 1/4 cup of butter in the oil. When melted, remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Use an electric beater to beat the eggs and 12/3 cups of the confectioners’ sugar together until soft and fluffy. 
  3. Add the butter-oil mixture and beat a few seconds longer. 
  4. Using the spatula, fold in the semolina flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla. 
  5. Blend well.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  7. Prepare the baking sheets by smearing with dabs of sweet butter. 
  8. Place the remaining 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar in a flat dish. 
  9. Form the cookies by pinching off walnut-sized balls of dough and rolling between your palms until a perfect sphere is formed. (Since the dough is very sticky, it’s a good idea to moisten your hands from time to time.) 
  10. Flatten the sphere slightly, dip one side into powdered sugar, and arrange on a buttered baking sheet.
  11. Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes. 
  12. When they are done, the cookies will have expanded and crisscross breaks will appear on their tops. 
  13. Allow to cool and crisp before storing.