By Melpomeni Matthews
‘M E L P O’ M A K A R O N A - Well, that’s what her husband calls them anyway. There is no Christmas without melomakarona. Every Greek home will set out big platters of beautifully arranged melomakarona ready for guests to enjoy during Christmas time. These are incredibly soft, moist, full of flavour and aroma, and soaked in a delicious spiced honey syrup that smells of Christmas. This recipe is one to save and make it all year round, as they are so so good that Christmas time only just isn't enough!
* 150g fine semolina
* 500g-600g flour, self raising sifted approximately
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
* 1/2 cup caster sugar
* 1 tbsp powdered cinnamon
* 1/3 tsp powdered nutmeg
* 1/3 tsp powdered clove
* 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
* 1/2 tbsp baking soda
* 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil Ladi Biosas
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* zest of 2 oranges
For the syrup:
* 2 cups sugar
* 1 cup water
* 2 cinnamon sticks
* 6 whole cloves
* peel and juice of one orange
* 1/2 cup of Greek Saffron Honey - Gives it a majestic aroma
* Finely chopped walnuts to garnish
1. Begin by making the syrup. In a pot add all the ingredients, besides the honey and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, remove from the stove and stir in the honey. Set aside to cool completely.
2. Prepare the dough by adding the dry ingredients with only 500g of the flour into bowl and whisk to combine.
4. In another large bowl add the wet ingredients including the sugar and spices and mix. Add the baking soda last and whisk until the ingredients combine and the baking soda dissolves and starts to foam.
5. Now combine the flour into the wet ingredients. Knead the dough for the melomakarona using your hands, until the ingredients combine and the dough is smooth and soft and slightly sticky. You may need to add more flour. Be careful not to overwork the dough, you need to be able to form walnut size pieces of dough in your hand.
7. Preheat the oven at 180οC, shape the dough with your palms into a smooth oblong shape, like a small egg. Place on the baking tray, push lightly the top with a fork and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Continue with the rest of the dough.
8. Bake for approx. 15-20 minutes, until the melomakarona are lightly browned and cooked through.
9. While still hot from the oven, dip the melomakárona immediately in the cold syrup, flipping them with a slotted spoon to absorb the syrup for approx. 10-20 seconds, depending on how syrupy you like them. Remove them using a slotted spoon, place on a platter and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
10. Store the melomakarona at room temperature in an airtight container.
Kala Christougenna - Merry Christmas!