A biscuit made with sumac? A spice much loved in Lebanon, adding a citrusy kick to savoury foods, sumac is not normally associated with sweet things. Its sharp, lemony flavour adds a touch of acidity when required. A key ingredient in za’atar, it’s usually sprinkled over salads like fattoush or scattered on top of fried eggs. So, what’s it doing in a biscuit?
On the hunt for an easy to make biscuit to keep an afternoon cuppa company, Nigella Lawson’s recipe for maple-pecan biscuits came into view. Decision made, they were a shorkk family favourite. Except, having creamed the butter and sugar together, the key ingredient, maple extract, was absent from our kitchen shelves. Undeterred, we felt that “The Domestic Goddess” might approve of the idea of making a substitution. Nigella acknowledges in “How to be a domestic Goddess” that the “exotic” maple extract had been the inspiration behind her recipe. Perhaps the Zejd’s sumac and pomegranate molasses would work as an “exotic” substitute here?
It’s probably fair to say that ingredients such as sumac and pomegranate molasses might not get used quite so frequently in the UK as they would in a Lebanese kitchen. So we feel it’s important to make them multitask, to earn their space in UK kitchen cupboards. This is a celebration of fabulous ingredients which taste so good they need to be used! The result, a crunchy bite, speckled and zingy from the sumac and fruity from the pomegranate molasses, adds another dimension to these terrific ingredients.
makes around 32 biscuits
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
125g light muscovado sugar
2 teaspoons Zejd sumac
1 tablespoon (15ml) Zejd pomegranate molasses
350g self-raising flour, sifted
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a free standing mixer or by hand until the mixture is well blended and soft.
- Add the sumac, the pomegranate molasses and mix briefly. Begin with a third of the flour, mix well, and add another third waiting until all has been incorporated before adding in the final third.
- Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees/170 degrees fan, gas mark 3. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.
- Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls roughly 25g each and place on a baking tray. Leave at least 3 cm between each as they will spread in the oven.
- Place a pecan half on each biscuit mixture and press down firmly until it is flattened a little.
- Cook for 15 minutes, turning the tray round in the oven halfway through for an even bake. The biscuits are ready when the underside is golden brown and not doughy.
- Remove from the oven and leave for a minute, before transferring to a wire tray to cool down.
Although they’re delicious as a teatime treat with a cup of olive leaf infusion, they also go really well with creamy goats cheese for lunch.