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greek lenten biscuits (koulourakia) with olive oil, orange and cinnamon

For those who fast, for intolerants to lactose, for vegans, or simply for a healthy, fragrant and crunchy coffee cookie

ingredients for 20 pieces (total cost about 1,5 € with organic ingredients)
  • 250 g pastry flour
  • 70 g superfine sugar
  • 90 g EVO oil (of a light taste)
  • 70 g orange juice
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 5 g ground cinnamon
  • 5 g of baking powder
  • 1 g baking ammonia
  • a pinch of salt

In Greece, during Lent – the period of 40 days before the Holy Week, according to the Christian calendar – we have the religious custom of fasting, that is, of not eating meat, or animal products. In this way, we commemorate the 40 days, that Jesus spent fasting in the desert, before presenting himself to the people and beginning his sermon.

Therefore, I have developed some basic pastry recipes to use for this period. When I want to make tarts, crostatas or biscuits, I use this sweet short crust pastry, instead of my basic one. This version does not contain butter, nor eggs or milk, which makes it suitable, even for intolerants to dairy products, as well as vegans.

My fasting cookies – koulourakia, as we call them in Greece – are based on this dough.

If you like to add a little nut flavor as well, you can substitute 20-40 g of the flour with ground walnuts – they are a perfect match for orange and cinnamon. Just remember to toast them for about 10 minutes at 170 o C, otherwise during baking they turn green and they make the dough rather chewy.

So, first of all we sieve the flour, the baking powder, the baking ammonia and the cinnamon in a bowl. We add the sugar and the salt and we stir well. We then make a well in the center, we pour in the olive oil, we add the orange zest and we work the ingredients by hand or with the paddle of the stand mixer, until the oil is well absorbed by the flour. Finally, we add the orange juice little by little and we continue working the dough, just until it comes together and becomes homogeneous, soft and pliable. If the dough does not come together but remains in a crumbly state, it we need to add a little more liquid. We form a ball, we wrap it with cling film and we let it rest for about an hour.

To make the biscuits we cut pieces of dough of about 24-25 g. We form rings (or other shapes of our preference) and we place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

We bake the biscuits either in a static oven at 170o C or in a ventilated one at 150o C for 18 minutes or until they are lightly colored.

We transfer the biscuits on a wire rack, until they cool completely, then we store them in a aluminum box lined with parchment. Enjoy, dipping them in a cup of coffee or tea. If you can find mountain tea, I strongly recommend it!


Published in DESSERTS