This is one pastry that is probably present in every household in Lebanon on a semi-permanent basis. Crunchy, not too sweet, fragrant with anise, rather plain, it is a usually presented with a cup of coffee or tea or homemade juice to visitors that drop by unexpectedly. Adopted from Taste of Beirut.
INGREDIENTS: This quantity will yield 45 anise rings, about 2 inches in diameter.
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 cup of sugar
a pinch of salt
2 large eggs
juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons milk powder
pinch of mahlab (optional)
2 tablespoons of anise seeds
1 tablespoon of ground anise seeds
1 cup of vegetable oil or melted butter or margarine (or a mixture of both)
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, milk powder, anise, mahlab (if using) and sugar into a large bowl.
- Add the melted butter and oil to the flour mixture, mix well. The dough will be like little pebbles. Add the eggs, one at a time. If you find that the dough is still very sandy and dry, add the lemon juice. Mix well. Add the anise seeds. Gather the dough and wrap in plastic and let it rest for 30 minutes or longer in a cool place.
- Cut small balls of the dough and shape into sausages, laying them side-by-side on a work surface to rest for about 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 350F (180C)
- Take each sausage and roll and stretch it thin, then cut it into 4 inch length ropes, tying the ends into a ring, trying to keep them even-sized.
- Place the rings on a cookie sheet lined with a parchment and bake for 20 minutes or until the bottoms are golden and the top is dry and crispy.
- When cool, keep the rings in a metal box for a couple of weeks, or freeze for longer periods.