Tag Archives: semolina

Lemon Semolina Biscuits

lemon biscuits

The mother of a very good friend of my mother’s used to make a version of these, and very well too. She knew I liked them, so whenever she made a batch she would kindly make sure some came my way. I came across this recipe by Steve Manfredi, so thought I would give them a go. Maybe it was the size of my lemon or my eggs, but I did find the dough way too sticky once combined, so I did end up adding another 1/2 cup of flour in addition to the 200g suggested in the recipe. Also the dough is already quite sweet, so the rolling in the sugar step I’d say is optional. I used a tablespoon measure to form the biscuits, and ended up with about 36. These are delicious!

200g plain flour
100g fine semolina
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
Pinch salt
110g unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
200g caster sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
Grated zest and juice of a lemon
½ tsp vanilla extract
60g caster sugar, extra, for rolling (optional)

Making them
1. Mix together in a bowl, the flour, semolina, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
2. Cream together the butter, olive oil and 200g of sugar in an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Add the egg, yolk, vanilla, lemon zest and juice until well combined (may be necessary to scrape down the sides).
3. On low speed add the dry ingredients and mix till soft dough is formed. Wrap the dough in some cling film, flatten into a disc and refrigerate for 90 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 170C. Put the 60g of extra sugar in a bowl. Using lightly floured fingers, take a small piece of dough and roll each biscuit to the size of a golf ball. Roll each ball in the sugar and place on baking sheets covered with baking paper. Each ball should be about 4cm from the other.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes till lightly golden. Cool and store in airtight containers.

Middle Eastern Walnut and Pistachio Biscuits


Made for special occasions and holidays, maa’moul are a type of shortbread filled with nuts or dates, the different shapes reflecting the filling.  I made two types – the longer ones are pistachio, and the little domes are walnut.  I discovered there are countless variations to this recipe – it is often handed from mother to daughter, so each family has their own way.  After reading about 20 different versions and comparing them, and having no idea which version to try, a (translated) phone consultation with Mrs E, a Renowned Maker of Maa’moul, set me on the right path.  She advised to go all semolina, no flour, and no milk. The all semolina pastry came out delicate and crumbly, and these were great with a morning coffee. I would like to give a combined semolina/flour version a go just to compare the texture.

I was surprised at how hard it was to find the molds, even Sydney surround Middle Eastern groceries had limited stock. I finally found them online at the Jo Shop, which sell them in packs of three with different sizes in each pack.  The quality was beautiful.  As for ingredients, you might struggle at your standard supermarket; again a Middle Eastern grocery store is the way to go. If you don’t have one in reach, on the North Shore you’ll find the Oriental and Continental Food store in Artarmon. This is one of those treasure trove food warehouse type places, where you can just lose yourself in the aisles.  It’s also great if you need to buy nuts in bulk.


The recipe makes about 50. You’ll need to make the dough the night before and let it rest. The fillings can be made once you are ready to shape the biscuits.

Ingredients – dough
750g coarse semolina
250g fine semolina
500g unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground mahlab (also called mahlep)
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon rosewater
125ml orange blossom water
2 tablespoons orange blossom water, extra
Icing sugar, for dusting

Walnut filling
150g walnuts, ground to a coarse crumb
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
Combine in a bowl and set aside until ready to use

Pistachio filling
150g natural pistachios, ground to a coarse crumb
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
Combine in a bowl and set aside until ready to use

Making it
1. In a bowl, combine both semolinas, the sugar, and the mahlab. Add the butter and combine well using either your hands or a pastry cutter.
2. Dissolve the yeast in the rosewater and add to the dough, then add the 125ml of orange blossom water. Knead the dough until smooth and silky. Cover and let the dough rest overnight.
3. In the morning, add the extra orangeblossom water and knead again
4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line some trays with baking paper.
5. Using a tablespoon measure, measure out quantities of dough and shape into balls.
6. Take a ball, poke your finger in the centre and then rotate the ball with your thumb to form a little pocket. This is really hard to explain – the easiest thing is to watch a youtube video on making maa’mould and you’ll see what I mean! (the picture on the left shows a pocket with the pistachio filling, on the right a walnut filling pocket being pressed into the mold).

7. Put a teaspoon of filling inside the pocket, seal it, then press it into the mold. Turn the mold over and give it a whack on the bench (very satisfying!!) and voila! Place on a baking tray.
8. Once all done place in the oven for around 20 minutes until lightly golden. Allow to cool then dust with icing sugar.

Oriental & Continental Foods, 43 Carlotta St, Artarmon Ph (02) 9906 8990

Today’s Cake – Semolina and Pear Cake

I’ve been making this little cake for years, and it always goes down well. You need nice ripe pears for this, so given that they are usually sold rock solid, you’ll need to buy them a few days in advance to give them time to ripen. Alternatively you could poach them.

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6 eggs, separated
1 cup caster sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3 tbsp. almond meal
2/3 cup fine semolina
Icing sugar, for dusting

200ml thickened cream
2 tbsp. pear puree
1 tbsp. icing sugar
2 ripe pears

Making it

1. Pre heat oven to 180 C. Grease a 19cm springform cake tin and line base and sides with baking paper.
2. In a bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff
3. In a separate bowl, whip yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Add lemon rind and lemon juice and whip for a few seconds
4. Fold in almond meal and lemon juice. Then fold in egg whites until well combined. Pour into prepared tin and bake for about 30 minutes or until skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. If the top starts to brown too much during baking cover with foil.
5. Remove from oven, leave in tin for 5 minutes then allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool use a serrated knife to slice in half.
6. To make the filling, in a bowl whip the cream and icing sugar until firm. Fold in the pear puree.
7. Peel, core and slice the two pears into half cm slices. Layer the slices on the bottom half of the cake, top with cream, then the top half of the cake. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

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