Za’atar biscuits

Za’atar biscuits

By
From
New Feast
Makes
30
Photographer
Alan Benson

Za’atar is the Arabic word for ‘wild thyme’, and also for a herby seasoning mix made of dried thyme, sour red sumac and sesame seeds. In Lebanon, this mix is perhaps most commonly combined with olive oil to make a paste, and brushed onto the pizza-style flatbreads called manoushi, which are turned out in their thousands by bakeries, big and small, every morning. If you’ve travelled in Lebanon, you’ll know only too well that it is impossible to walk past one of these bakeries without stopping to buy a manoushi; not surprisingly, they are the most popular snack food in the country.

Za’atar makes a wonderfully effective addition to our favourite little cheese biscuits. They keep quite well in a sealed container, not that they’re likely to last long.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
100g unsalted butter, diced and chilled, plus extra for greasing
100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon turkish red chilli flakes
50g cheddar, finely grated
50g parmesan, finely grated
1 egg, lightly beaten

Za’atar mix

Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons za’atar
1 tablespoon sumac

Method

  1. Mix together the za’atar and sumac.
  2. Combine the butter, flour, 2 teaspoons of the za’atar mix, the chilli flakes and both cheeses in the bowl of a food processor. Whiz until the mixture starts to form crumbs, and then starts to clump together to form a ball.
  3. Tip onto a floured work surface and, working briskly, bring the mix together to form a dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease a baking tray.
  5. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 3 mm. Use a small pastry cutter to cut out biscuits and transfer them carefully to the prepared baking tray, spacing them about 2 cm apart. Lightly knead and re-roll the trimmings until you’ve used up all the dough.
  6. Brush the surface of each biscuit with a little beaten egg and sprinkle fairly densely with the za’atar mix. Bake for 10 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray for a moment. Lift them carefully onto wire racks to cool and serve, if you can, while warm.
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