This is similar recipe to shortbread, however, traditional flavourings are added which gives it an authentic Lebanese taste. The dough is cut out into individual biscuits made into different shapes: round ones, coiled, diagonals or even rectangular and topped with pistachio nuts or almonds. They go well with tea or coffee and are ideal to take on picnics. Whether you are using your hands or food processor, try not to overwork the dough because it can become very soft as the heat may turn the fat into a slurry-like consistency. Therefore, speed is important.
As a child, it always fascinated me the way the different shapes were stacked on top of each other shining with snow-like white colour. This is something I couldn’t achieve, for my Ghraybeh biscuits always come out with a slight tinge of gold but still have an exquisite taste.
Makes about 20 medium sized
- 150 g/ 5 oz icing sugar
- 150 g/ 5 oz butter at room temperature
- 300 g/ 11oz plain flour
- 2 tbsp of each orange flower and rose water
- You also need 2 or 3 baking sheets (depending on the size you have) lined with baking parchment
- Cream icing sugar and butter until smooth, then, fold in the flour and mix well. It will look crumbly to start but as you add the flavourings, the dough will bind together. If it is too soft, let it rest for about 10 minutes in the fridge.
- To make the coiled shape. Take a small portion of the dough, roll it out with your hands on a floured surface and make a sausage shape,1.25 cm ( a little over ½ inch) thick and 12 cm (4¾ inches) long. Next join both ends of the sausage, press one pistachio nut or an almond if you prefer (in fact any type of nut works) at the intersection, transfer immediately onto the lined baking sheet.
- For the ordinary biscuit shape. On a floured surface and using a slightly dusted rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1cm (½ inch) thickness. Take a 5 cm (2 inches) round pastry cutter, insert into the dough, cut and transfer onto the baking sheet. Do likewise with the trimmings until you have used all of it.
- For the diamond shape. 5 cm (2 inches) for the sides and 1cm (½ inch) thickness. Use the same method as with the round ones.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC (fan oven) 400ºF for about 12 minutes until they start to turn slightly golden.
- Leave them to cool completely on the baking sheet, although they are delicious when they are still warm.
NB: These biscuits keep well in an airtight container for a few days.