M’hanncha

What can you bake when you have no flour in your house but two full packages of phyllo? I didn’t know either until I saw this Moroccan recipe. I had to try it out.

First, prepare the almond paste. In a blender, mix the almonds, the powdered sugar, and cinnamon. When that is really ground, add the egg yolks and butter. Mix very well. Place in bowl and add the extracts and the orange juice and water.

Allow to set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then, spread out 3 sheets of phyllo dough. Roll out one line of paste, and wrap it in the dough.

Roll into pan and spread the glaze.

Bake!

Orange-Almond Paste
  • 3 cups almonds
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon orange-flower water
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Assembly

  • 12 (12- by 17-inch) sheets phyllo dough
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Toppings

  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preparation

To Make the Orange-Almond Paste:
Combine the almonds, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom in a food processor or blender and pulse to grind into a coarse meal. Add the butter and egg yolks and pulse until blended. Scrape the paste into a bowl, and stir in the orange-flower water, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla. Divide the paste into 12 balls, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Set the balls on a work surface dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Roll each one into a 3 1/2-inch-long log. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To Assemble the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a large baking sheet. Dust a work surface with confectioners’ sugar. Place a sheet of phyllo pastry on the sugared work surface, and fold it in thirds to form a 4- by 17-inch rectangle. Brush the sheet with melted butter. Add another folded phyllo sheet, brush with butter, and repeat, until you have four buttered sheets.

Set four orange-almond paste logs in a row down one long end of the phyllo, and roll the pastry up over them into a cylinder. Fold over the ends and brush on some melted butter to seal the seams. Shape the cylinder into a small, tight coil and place on the baking sheet, seam side down.

Repeat to prepare two more phyllo rolls. Add each to the end of the coil on the baking sheet, forming a large coil.

Combine the egg yolks, water, and cinnamon. Brush the mixture over the top of the cake.

To Bake:
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Remove the cake from the oven, and let cool on the baking sheet.

To Serve:
Stir together the confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle on the cake, and top with sliced almonds.

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