Moroccan corn ghrieba with aniseed


A gluten-free harcha-meet-ghrieba with Moroccan flavours, how about that for a treat? I thought you'd like it!

As much as most of our ghrieba recipes (here, here, here and there and there) are on the chewy side and a few of them on the shortbread side (here and there) of the baking textures, this one is rather a baked version of our national galette called harcha.

The recipe is easy to follow and I find it rather cool how we get to smash the dough balls against the baking tray before baking the lot.

Versions of baked harcha ghriebas can include mix of flour and fine semolina or/and coarse semolina and this will depend on families. Some regions do not even have any baked version at all so you may find Moroccans who have never heard of this, then you could introduce them. Take this opportunity to spread your knowledge and expertise in all-things Moroccan and introduce them to it.




Now corn harcha-ghrieba is usually good the first day it's baked and we can give it another half day to appreciate it. It does not come wonderful after heating it so don't go there.

However, I've come up with a way to make the pleasure last longer: I quickly soak it in a lemony basboussa-revani-like syrup but really quickly as it might breaks in crumbs, 100% corn products have this reputation of hardly keeping their shape if you try to fiddle with them. If you are known to be clumsy then take a tablespoon and poor the syrup on the ghriebas, I reckon 1 or two tablespoons for each ghrieba will do the trick. That way you will be safe. This soaked version keeps well for a few days in the fridge and can be served garnished or crumbled over freshly cut fruits.

I am giving all in grams so you can use the same weighting scale and one mixing bowl to make it.

Ingredients
Makes +/- 12 ghriebas of 50 g each 
Prep: 10 min - Baking time: 20 min
  • 250 g corn flour (not corn starch)
  • 60 g of vegetable oil (originally 80 g)
  • 60 g of butter, melted (originally 80 g)
  • 40 g caster sugar (only half if not into too much sweetness, optional if using syrup)
  • 30 g orange blossom water
  • 150 g water at room temperature, might need another 30 g depending on the absorption
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp aniseed, slightly crushed
  • 1 tbsp apricot jam (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A good pinch of salt
Finishing
  • 50 g of corn semolina or flour for rolling the dough balls (optional but It helps with the final look)
Syrup (you may double it if you want them really soaked)
  • 1/2 cup of water (1 measure)
  • 1 cup of caster sugar (2 measures sugar)
  • 1 tbsp of lemon or orange juice
  • 2 rinds of lemon


Preparation

Preheat the oven at 180 C. Line a baking tray with baking paper or grease it and dust it with corn grits.

A a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients with the butter and the oil. Rub with your hands as if you are preparing a shortcrust dough.

Incorporate the orange blossom water then the water gradually and combine with a whisk or with your hands. The mix might look runny so don't worry. Let it rest for 2 - 3 minutes. The corn flour will absorb the liquid and the batter-looking mix will turn to a malleable pasty texture.

Grab some of the dough and roll it between the palms of your hands. You need between 40 and 60 g for each ball depending how big you want the harcha ghrieba to be. I usually forget this step all the time but you need to roll the balls in corn flour (the part for the finished look) and smash it at about 40 cm height on the baking sheet. It helps with the cracking.

Arrange on the baking tray, leaving a bit of space between each unit.

Bake ghriebas for +/- 25 min  180 C. I usually rotate the tray after 15 min baking. They should look nicely golden. Set aside to cool.

Let cool, serve at room temperature, ideally the same day. You may like it with jam or honey.

To make syrup

In a small heavy saucepan, stir the sugar in water and add the rinds. Let simmer over medium heat for about 15 min. In the last 5 minutes, add the juice.

Set aside and use until it's just warm to lukewarm (you can put your fingers in it without burning yourself).

Place the ghriebas over a grill and a deep plate at the bottom, poor the syrup on top and let them drip. Alternatively, you can poor one or two tablespoon over each ghrieba.

Keep the syrup-coated version in the fridge for a few days, serve with extra syrup as a dessert.

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