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Ma’moul Easter Walnut/Pistachio Cakes

Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 23.09.2006:

During Easter holidays (as well as Muslim holi­days), households embark upon the preparation of delicacies. These range from date cookies to loaves of sweet bread, and not to be excluded of course, are the small cakes called ma’moul bi joaz (with walnuts) or ma’moul bi fustoq (with pis­ta­chios). Families and neighbors gather around an all encompasing ta­ble and hands are put to work. Some­times even men sit amidst the busy wom­en­folk and become part of the assembly line!

Pleasant talk, an­ec­dotes furle around the table but the amusing comments range from directives to well-meant criticism of one an­oth­er’s work: is the ma’moul too big? Are the deco­rations dainty and ar­tis­tic or un­attractive and crude looking? In the midst of all this would be the ma­tronly figure of mother or grand­moth೿er ad­min­is­tering quality con­trol stand­ards as to excactly how ma’moul should look and taste. I pre­fer them tiny and mouthful size. I also strongly en­courage the use of orrange blossom (essence) water (ma-zaher). Check for the wooden mold (press) used to decorate the walnut cakes and the wide metal tweezers used for deco­rations.


7 cups simolina (smeed)

500 g melted butter

1 2/3 cups orrange blossom essence water (ma’-zaher)

pinch baking powder


2 ½ cups finely ground walnuts or pis­ta­chios

1 cup sugar

2 tsp cinnamon (only if using walnuts)

¼ tsp ground nutmeg (if de­sired)

powder sugar for gar­nish

Place the simolina in a large bowl, add butter and mix, rubbing well be­tween the hands. Cover and set aside for 2 hours or over-night. Combine the filling in­gre­di­ents and set aside. Add the blossom water to the simolina and mix well into the dough; rest for 15 min­utes. Pinch off a piece the size of a wal­nut, round it up a bit by rolling it between your hands. Holding it in the palm of one hand, in­sert the fore­fin­ger of your other hand to form as large a cavity as possi­ble. Fill with a small spoonful of filling and seal. Place on a table with the sealed portion down and work with your fin­gers to give it an upright shape, like a sitting egg. Deco­rate with the tines of a fork and transfer to an ungreased baking pan, placing the cakes very close to one an­other- they should be touching for support when baking. Ma’moul may also be pressed into a the wooden mold which gives it the size of the mold or deco­rated with the metal tweezers. Bake in a 160C oven for 30 min­utes or until bottom is lightly golden. Broil tops very lightly. Cool completely, store in an air­tight con­tainer. Sift with powder sugar before serving. Ma’moul will keep for weeks and freezes ex­cep­tionally well. Makes 45-50 cakes.


This Week in Palestine

April 2001

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