Sfouf

Dipping a toe into the sea of recipes coming from around the Mediterranean, this is a current favorite borrowed from the Lebanese kitchen. I love it.

Ingredients

Sweet Anise Tea
1 teaspoon ground anise seeds (or grind 1 teaspoon of whole anise seeds using a pestle and mortar.) 
250 ml (1⅛ cups) boiling water
220 g (1 cup) sugar

Cake
1 teaspoon oil or butter for greasing the pan
2 tablespoons tahini
112 g (¾ cup) flour
175 g (1 cup) durum wheat flour or semolina
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons ground turmeric
1½ teaspoons whole anise seeds
½ teaspoon salt
125 g (½ cup) butter, softened to room temperature, or ½ cup light olive oil

Topping
20 g (3 tablespoons) sesame seeds

Method

  • To make the Sweet Anise Tea: dissolve the sugar with the boiling water, then stir in the ground anise seeds. Leave to cool.
  • Line a square 22 cm (9″) baking tin with parchment paper extending over the sides, then grease the base with tahini. (Butter will work too if tahini is not available.)
  • Combine the flour, durum wheat, baking powder, turmeric, whole anise seeds, and salt.
  • Put the softened butter or oil into a mixing bowl. Add the flour and beat with an electric beater until it resembles breadcrumbs. (If using oil, the breadcrumbs will look coarse.)
  • Pour in the Sweet Anise Tea and using a large, shallow metal spoon or firm spatula, reach into the bottom of the mixing bowl and cut and fold the flour into the wet ingredients until just combined. Turn the bowl after each fold so that the ingredients are evenly distributed. Work quickly and lightly. It will be quite wet. Drop the batter into baking tin, level using the back of a fork, and decorate with the sesame seeds.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the sides of the cake pull away from the edges. Remove from the oven.
  • Wait for the cake to cool down, then holding the edges of the parchment, lift out from the tins.
  • To serve, cut into triangles or diamonds.

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