So I picked up a few new books for my birthday. One of them, “Enchanting Recipes from the Tales of the 1001 Arabian Nights” was one of those “Hmmm, Let’s see.” type of books. I am actually very please. There are not 1001 sweets in the Arabian Nights but the 25 recipes they do have are very nice.
It seems that every culture that has access to flour, sugar and butter makes some sort of sugar cookie. Sweet subtle and very tasty!
Baqsamat bi Sukkar
(Middle Eastern Twice Cooked Sugar Cookie)
Take flour and sugar, moisten, and knead with butter. If it is not sweet enough add finely pounded sugar to it. Make for it a liquid mixture of yeast with a little water. Make baqsamat in any variety that you wish. Bake on a tray in the oven a second time after having baked it once. (Ibn al-Adim, Kitab al-Waslah ila al-Habib fi Wasf al-Tayyibat wa al-Tib/Salloum, pp. 58)
2 C flour
1 C sugar
2 sticks butter
¼ C water
2 Tbs yeast
¼-1/2 tsp (total) spices i.e. cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves
This recipe is based on both the Arabian Nights and a period recipe. Salloum suggest treating this as a typical sugar cookie, with the twist of adding yeast and water per the recipe.
Take about a teaspoon of sugar and add to the yeast. This will get the yeast going while you mix the other ingredients together.
Basic recipe is to take flour and sugar, mix well.
Next cut butter into small chunks/cubes.
Then add in cubed butter,
till the butter is mixed with the flour and sugar in to pea sized granules.
Next add in yeast/water.
This will form a dough.
Cut into forms,
and cook once and allow to cool. Then cook a second time till a little harder.
My thought is with the original recipe saying “Make baqsamat in any variety that you wish” they are saying one of two things (possibly both). Make the shape of the cookie into any form you wish and/or add spicing of your choice. Even with cooking twice, there is a sufficient amount of moisture that the cookies are very moist. Almost to moist to hold any actual shape that isn’t round.
For this recipe I went with the shape first. Next time I am going to add a few spices for a subtly sweet dry cookie.