The technical challenge for Spice Week sent the bakers back to “ancient times,” according to Paul Hollywood, with the ma’amoul bake. This was new for me as well, and introduced me to ingredients I’ve never used before like orange blossom water, rose water, mahleb/mahlab and mastic. Lucky for me, we live in an area that has a large Middle Eastern and Greek population and my local grocer carried all of these ingredients. If you have a hard time finding them locally, you can order through Amazon.
No tips from me this week but just some observations I made.
- The dough will be very crumbly and seemingly dry. It does come together enough though to form little balls after it’s had a chance to chill.
- If you don’t have a ma’amoul mold, you can simply shape the pastry by hand. You just won’t get the lovely decorative elements like the one Paul made.
- You can make similar designs by using two forks instead of the ma’amoul tongs.
- Paul’s recipe doesn’t say to chill after molding, but I did anyway because I did’t want all the ghee to run out during the bake and flatten the pastry.
- This is great fun for kids to help with. My 4-year-old assisted in making the dough and she shaped all the fillings.
I followed Paul’s recipe exactly. You can see it on the GBBO page and I’ve pasted it below.
Hands-on time: 45 minutes, plus chilling
Baking time: 15 minutes
Skill level: Easy
For the dough:
- pinch of mastic
- 20g caster sugar
- 175g fine semolina
- 20g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp ground mahleb
- 90g chilled ghee
- 2 tsp orange blossom water
- 2 tsp rose water
- icing sugar, to dust
For the date filling:
- 75g medjool dates, stoned
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground mahleb
For the walnut filling:
- 25g walnuts
- 25g golden raisins
- 1 tbsp orange blossom honey
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
You will also need:
- Ma’amoul mould
- Baking sheet lined with baking paper
- Ma’amoul tongs
Step 1 – Put the mastic in a mortar with 1 teaspoon of the sugar and grind to a powder. Tip into a bowl and add the remaining sugar, along with the semolina, flour and mahleb. Mix together.
Step 2 – Add the ghee and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the orange blossom and rose waters and bring the dough together with your hands. Tip out onto a floured worktop. Knead for 5 minutes, until smooth, then wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes, to rest.
Step 3 – For the date filling, place the dates in the bowl of a mini food processor with the rose water, cinnamon and mahleb and blitz to a paste. Divide the mixture into 6 and roll into balls (wet hands will prevent the paste sticking).
Step 4 – For the walnut filling, place the walnuts in the bowl of a mini food processor with the raisins, honey and cardamom and blitz to a paste. Divide the mixture into 6 and roll into balls.
Step 5 – Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6. Divide the dough into 12 pieces, each of about 25g. Roll each piece into a ball and cover with a damp tea towel.
Step 6 – With damp hands, flatten each ball of dough in the palm of one hand, turning it around as you go and lifting the edges to form a little cup. The cups should be about 3mm thick and the sides about 3cm high.
Step 7 – Fill 6 of the pastry cups with a ball of date filling and the remaining 6 pastry cups with a ball of walnut filling. Pinch the dough over the filling to seal and roll each into a ball.
Step 8 – Lightly flour the ma’amoul mould and press one of the walnut-filled balls into the mould. Turn it out onto the lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 5 walnut-filled balls.
Step 9 – With the 6 date-filled balls, use the ma’amoul tongs and pinch the pastry to create a decorative design. Place on the lined baking sheet.
Step 10 – Bake all the ma’amoul for 12–14 minutes, until golden on the bottom, but pale or very lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven, leave to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust the walnut ma’amoul with icing sugar before serving.
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