The July Daring Bakers’ Challenge was brought to us by Manal from Manal’s Bites. She introduced us to an authentic Palestinian dish from Java that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup or a salad. The Yafawi Sfeeha, also known as Milwayeh, which means twisted, is crispy yet tender and full of flavor. This dish will need some planning ahead as the dough needs to rest overnight if possible but once you start working, it will take a couple of hours from start to finish depending on the amount you are making.



For the dough

3 cups (750 ml) (420 gm) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) kitchen salt

1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) sugar

3 tablespoons (45 ml) powdered milk

3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil

About 1 cup (250 ml) warm water, for kneading

Melted ghee (or olive oil), to stretch the dough

For the Meat Filling

1 pound (500 grams) ground meat

1 medium onion, minced

½ teaspoon kitchen salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon Middle Eastern 7 spice blend

1 teaspoon sumac spice

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

½ cup (60 gm) toasted pine nuts


  • Mix flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and vegetable oil, then add the warm water to form a dough.
  • Combine till it forms a slightly sticky dough. Kneading will take about 8 mins in a stand-up mixer.

  • If kneading by hand, it will take approximately 12 mins. Form the dough into small golf-sized balls.
  • Place on a baking sheet that is well greased with ghee or olive oil and pour some more over dough.

  • Cover and let rest at room temperature for few hours or overnight. Prepare filling in the meantime.
  • In a skillet over medium heat, cook meat until no longer pink and water has evaporated, add onion.

  • Cook till it becomes tender (around 3 minutes). Season mixture and add spices. Remove from heat.
  • It will be very fragrant now. Add sumaq and pomegranate molasses. Add toasted pine nuts if using.

  • Let the filling cool completely. After the filling is ready, use some of the ghee to brush a round tray.
  • Take one piece of dough and using hands, gently start spreading it as thinly and evenly as possible.

  • Once that is done fold the upper side to the middle then fold the opposite side to the middle as well.
  • Spread filling in a long line across the dough. Roll like a long tight rope to ensure no filling escapes.

  • Start rolling the rope towards the inside as spiral shape, tucking the free end underneath the spiral.
  • Put some more ghee on your baking sheet and place the done sfeeha onto the greased baking sheet.

  • Continue shaping and filling remaining sfeeha using more ghee to keep them moist before baking.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and bake sfeeha for 15 to 20 minutes till golden brown.

  • Serve hot or at room temperature with a bowl of soup during winter or a salad and Greek yogurt.
  • Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator and reheat them a bit when serving. Serves 8-10.

Daring Bakers July Challenge

On the second week of Ramadan, I purchased a large box of Tunisian Deglet Noor dates from my local store. Though they are great to snack on, I had other plans for them as soon as I got them home. It took all the patience in me to wait for Eid to start on this rich and buttery stuffed cookie from Chef in DisguiseMa’amoul does require some advance planning and the dough preparation is made on the eve so that the semolina grains have enough time to soften and swell up in hot ghee. This traditional Lebanese cookie, usually filled with dates and nuts like almonds or pistachios or walnuts, is shaped in hand carved wooden molds. To improvise for the absence of these beautiful molds, which can be purchase online, I used my smallest tart molds lined with plastic wrap. They worked like a charm but I hope to be able to get hold of the real molds by next Eid-ul- Fitr for authentic-looking ma’mouls.



500 g fine semolina

150 g ghee, melted and hot

50 g unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered milk

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup ground almonds

3/4 teaspoon instant yeast

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup orange blossom water

1/4 cup rosewater

For the Date Filling

500g pitted dates/date paste

250 g chopped nuts

1/2 teaspoon of cardamom

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon orange blossom water

1 tablespoon butter or ghee


  • For the crust, place the semolina in a bowl and add the butter/ghee and oil to it, starting with 1/8 cup.
  • It is important for the ghee/butter to be melted and hot. Rub into semolina until completely absorbed.

  • Mixture will resemble wet sand. Cover and leave over night so that semolina granules swell and soften.
  • The next day add the flour, powdered milk and baking powder, then gradually add the ground almonds.

  • Dissolve yeast in the water with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Wait for it to foam and add it to the semolina mix.
  • Dissolve the 1/4 cup of sugar in the orange blossom and rosewater then add it to the semolina mixture.

  • Mix gently till dough comes together and is homogenous. Cover mixture and allow to rest for one hour.
  • Take small amount of dough and try rolling into a ball, if it crumbles you need to add some more water.

  • Knead gently, cover and leave for 10 minutes. For date and nut filling, combine all ingredients together.
  • Shape semolina dough into walnut sized pieces. Keep the dough covered to prevent it from drying out.

  • Shape the date filling into small balls about half the size of the dough balls and flatten each dough ball.
  • Place the date ball inside. Seal dough around the stuffing making sure the filling is completely enclosed.

  • Shape it into a ball. For shaping the ma’amoul using molds, place the dough in a mold and press firmly.
  • Do not over do or the ma’amoul will stick to the mold. Line the molds with a little piece of plastic wrap.

  • Press the filled dough then use the plastic wrap to take the dough out of the mold before peeling it off.
  • Invert the mold and tap the end of the mold on the kitchen towel and the formed ma’amoul will fall out.

  • Bake on the middle rack of a preheated oven (230 C) till the edges are golden brown for 5 to 12 minutes.
  • Then place them under the broiler till the tops are golden brown for 2 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven.

  • Take the cookies out of the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Move them to a cooling rack because they are prone to crumble when they are still hot. Makes 15 pieces.

Eid Mubarak

These irresistible mini morsels of plain butter cake dipped in browned butter and cinnamon sugar are just the thing I needed to start my free Saturday. I honestly cannot remember when was the last Saturday I spent at home with family, cooking and baking simple homemade food for them. These warm, sugar coated puffs from Smitten Kitchen were the first thing that came to mind when I thought of baking for breakfast. After I got posted as ‘the new RMO in Gynae & Obstetrics’, I felt I had to treat myself for surviving my first week. Nothing better than having a whole batch of these beauties in your kitchen to counter all the stress and apprehension of getting used to something that is NOT General Surgery.



For the Sugar Coating

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Mini Puffs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup butter, room temperature

1 large egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 12 standard size or 30 miniature muffin cups or line cups with paper liners.
  • For the coating, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a small saucepan and continue to cook it.
  • Stir it frequently until brown bits form on the bottom and it smells nutty. Immediately remove from heat.

  • Set it aside to cool to room temperature. In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • For the puffs, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground spices together in a medium bowl.
  • In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat softened butter and sugar together until it turns light and fluffy.

  • Add egg and vanilla and beat till combined. Mix in a third of flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk.
  • Continue finishing with the flour mixture. Mix only until combined. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups.
  • Fill up to 3/4 way. Bake standard sized muffins for 20 to 25 minutes and mini muffins for 12 to 14 minutes.

  • When finished, muffins will feel springy to the touch. A tester inserted into the center will come out clean.
  • Transfer them in their pan to a wire rack. As soon as you feel you can pick one up, reach for your first puff.
  • Roll the top and upper edges in browned butter. Let any excess browned butter drip off for about a second.

  • Now roll the butter-soaked cake top in the cinnamon-sugar coating and transfer the puff to wire rack to set.
  • Puffs are best within hours after they are baked. Yields 9 to 12 standard muffin-size puffs or 30 mini ones.
  • They can be made in advance and stored in a freezer bag. Spread the puffs on a tray and reheat until warm.

Cinnamon & Browned Butter

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