Old School Middle Eastern Recipes with Some Modern Day Twists

Black Seed Biscuits

Black Seed Biscuits

These delicious flaky biscuits are inspired by my favorite cookie, Kakat’ Mahlab. Black seeds, butter and mahlab spice are the mainstays of both these biscuits and the cookies. And, as Nana would say, “it has just a finger of butter,” which is Nana language for a stick. Fact of life – butter makes everything better, always and forever.

These biscuits have a more savory profile than Kakat Mahlab. Black seeds, aka Nigella Seeds, gives the biscuits notes of pepper, oregano and onion. They are often used in Middle Eastern or Indian cooking in savory dishes or in making of breads or cheese. It also has many health benefits, such as, anti-inflammatory properties and aids in digestion. All of which are added benefits…but, I’m more about how good it tastes in these biscuits.

Mahlab is a common baking spice in Iraqi cuisine. It is sourced from ground cherry pits and has light notes of cherry, almond and vanilla. Just like other spices in baking, a little goes a long way.

Flaky biscuits are something we all want, amiright? To get the most flaky biscuits, multiple layers of cold butter are layered within the dough in the process described below. I love pairing these with jam/butter and enjoying it with tea or for brunch. They are delightful and a stunning addition to your holiday table!

Black Seed Biscuits

These flaky, buttery biscuits have a delicious flavor profile from black seeds and mahlab. They are perfect for tea time or brunch!
Course Appetizer, Brunch, Sides, Tea Time

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups flour, plus additional for dusting the surface
  • tsp baking powder
  • tsp salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1.5 tsp mahlab*
  • 1 tbsp black seeds*, and a bit more for sprinkling
  • 1 stick (4 ounces), frozen butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup whole or 2% milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water

Instructions
 

  • In a food processor (or bowl if you do not have one) mix together flour, baking powder, salt and mahlab.
  • With your food processor or a pastry cutter, pulse/chop butter into flour mixture until a sandy/pebbly appearance develops.
  • If using food processor, remove contents to a separate bowl. To the bowl with flour and butter, add milk and black seeds until just combined. Next, bring the dough out on a surface and mix with your hands until a uniform dough develops. Shape into a rectangle and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Remove dough from fridge and dust surface with flour. Roll out dough into a rectangle shape until about 1" thick.
  • Fold dough into 3rds. Roll out into a 1" rectangle again and fold into 3rds. Refrigerate again for 1 hour.
    Black Seed Biscuits
  • Repeat step 4 & 5 one or two more times. **
    Black Seed Biscuits
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • To make egg wash, whisk egg with water, set aside.
  • Remove from fridge and roll out to about ¾-1". Cut into whatever shape you'd like. I used a circle cookie cutter here, but use whatever you have on hand, even the rim of a glass cup works. Be sure to dip whatever you are cutting your dough with, with flour so it does not stick to the dough.
  • If you have scraps of dough, roll out and cut again into desired shape.
  • Place biscuits on a baking sheet. Lightly brush tops with egg wash. Sprinkle a few black seeds on top of each biscuit.
  • Bake for about 20-25 minutes until tops just start to golden.
  • Allow to cool. Enjoy on their own, or with jam, cheese or butter. Stores on counter for 3-5 days or in freezer for 2 months.

Notes

*Mahlab and black seeds can be found in many Middle Eastern or Greek specialty food stores, or bought on Amazon. 
**The more times you repeat this process the more layering your biscuits will have. I usually do 2 rounds (dough enters the fridge 3 times). 
Keyword biscuits, black seeds, butter, mahlab



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