Kavala Cookies

Kavala Kurabıyesı

Kavala is a town in Greece, not far from the border of Turkey. I wanted to include what Turks call Kavala cookies in honour of one of my food idols—the Sydney chef Janni Kyritsis, whose grandparents were expelled from Turkey in the 1920s as part of a government policy of monoculturalism. They ended up living in Kavala (just as my grandparents were expelled from Greece and ended up living in the Turkish town of Mürefte, where Janni’s parents had started). But when I asked Janni if he was familiar with Kavala cookies, he looked blank. The people of Kavala, it seems, just call them almond cookies, and are unaware of their city’s fame throughout my country.

Ingredients

  • 300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 150 g ( oz/ cups) almond meal
  • 150 g ( oz) butter
  • 150 g ( oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 g ( oz/½ cup) coarsely ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, for greasing

Method

Mix the flour and almond meal together in a non-stick frying pan over low heat for 3 minutes until it begins to bake, then remove from the heat and set aside.

Gently melt the butter in a frying pan (or microwave for 30 seconds). Pour the melted butter in a bowl and add 50 g ( oz) of the icing sugar. Slice the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the butter mixture. Add the baking powder and eggs, and whisk to combine. Put the flour and almond mixture in a separate bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the butter and egg mixture. Knead for 5 minutes to make a soft dough. (If it seems too moist, add a little more flour.) Add the ground almonds and knead for 5 minutes more until it forms a coarse paste. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/Gas 3).

Place the dough on a floured work surface and roll out the dough, using a rolling pin, into a sheet about 30 cm (12 in) wide and 1 cm (½ in) thick. Use the rim of a glass to cut the sheet into rounds, then slice each round in half to make sixteen half moons. (For a traditional shape, push the straight edge of the half moon inwards to create a crescent.)

Line a baking tray with baking paper and brush with vegetable oil. Add the half moons and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Remove the tray from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle generously with the remaining icing sugar and serve.