Easter is a major religious celebration in Greece. Those who follow the Greek orthodox church faithfully will spend the 40 days in the lead up to Easter having omitted all meats and dairy from their diets. This has led to many recipes being devised over the years that can be enjoyed during this time of “lent”. The melomakarono is a dairy free, honey syrup glazed biscuit with crushed walnuts and it’s so delicious it can be enjoyed at all times of the year but especially around Easter and Christmas time. I’m going to share the recipe that my Mother has used for decades. I hope you enjoy it!
- 2 cups olive oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cognac or brandy. You can also vary this recipe using wine (white or red) or beer instead of cognac.
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or grated orange rind
- 7 1/2 cups plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
For the syrup:
- 2 cups honey
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- Ground cinnamon
- 200g crushed walnuts
Preheat a fan forced oven to 180°C or a convection oven to 160°C. Combine the oil, cognac, orange juice, sugar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and beat well.
While the oil mixture is beating, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.
Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture a little at a time and incorporate. Start with the whisk attachment and replace with the dough hook once the mixture starts to get thick.
Once all the flour has been mixed in, tip your dough out onto a work surface. The dough should be soft but not sticky and should resemble a cookie dough.
Take small pieces of the dough (around the size of a ping pong ball) and roll between your hands to make a sausage shape.
Place the sausage shape on your bench and gently flatten to create an oval shaped biscuit. Then, gently press the tips of a fork along the dough to create the ridges.
Place the biscuits on a baking tray and then bake for around 25 minutes.
While the melomakarona are baking, combine all the ingredients for your syrup and bring to a boil on the stove. Skim any scum off the top of the syrup and boil for 5 minutes.
When the melomakarona are ready, take them out of the oven and pour the hot syrup over them while they’re still in the baking tray. Turn them over a couple of times to ensure that the syrup is absorbed evenly through the biscuit. If you’re baking in a couple of batches like I did, only use half the syrup. When your second batch is ready, remove the first batch from the baking tray, put the second batch in and, making sure you bring the syrup to the boil again, pour the rest of it in and repeat the process. Let the melomakarona cool in the tray and then transfer them to a plate. Dust with ground cinnamon and top with crushed walnuts.
Serve the melomakarona with a Greek coffee and enjoy!