Kelaa Almond Pastries

Kelaa Almond Pastries are typical sweets from Morocco. Although the pastry takes lime to make, the result is well worth it. Orange-flower water is obtainable from some chemists or shops specializing in Middle Eastern foods.

5 oz. flour

4 teaspoon salt

1½ oz. butter, melted

3 fl. oz. tepid water

8 oz. freshly ground almonds

4 oz. castor sugar

1 tablespoon orange-flower water

Sift the flour and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in 1 tablespoon of the butter and the water.

With a wooden spoon, combine the liquids, gradually drawing in the flour. When all the flour has been incorporated, knead the dough with your hands for a few minutes. Add a little more water if the dough feels too dry.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured board and knead it for 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic.

Rinse, dry and lightly grease the mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and set it aside to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to fairly hot 400 °F (Gas Mark 6, 200CC).

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the ground almonds and sugar. Add the remaining melted butter and the orange-flower water. Knead the mixture until it forms a smooth paste, adding a little more orange-flower water if the almond paste is too dry.

Spread a large, clean cloth on a flat surface. Sprinkle the cloth with a little flour. Place the dough on the cloth and, using your hands, gently stretch the dough out as thinly as possible to an oblong approximately 25- by 15-inches.

Trim the edges of the dough with a knife to straighten them. Cut the dough into approximately 5-inch squares, and cut the squares diagonally in half to make triangles.

Break the almond paste into as many pieces as there are triangles. Roll each almond paste piece into a sausage shape between your hands.

Place a length of almond paste on the base of each triangle. Roll up the tri-angles, from the base. Form the rolls into crescent shapes, joining them lightly at their tips. If necessary, moisten the tips with a little water to make them stick together.

Place the crescents on a large baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the centre of the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the bottoms of the crescents are golden brown.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Transfer the pastries from the baking sheet to a wire rack, and let them cool completely before serving.