Paximadia With Figs, Star Anise & WalnutsDec 10th, 2010 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Baking, Coffee, Cookies, Dough, Eggs, Featured, Festive, figs, Flour, Fruit, Greek, Nuts, Ouzo, Snacks, Spices
I came up with this recipe after having an epiphany that I must once again have and enjoy the flavour combo of walnuts and figs in a recent salad with this same glorious pairing of walnuts and figs. In that post, encouraged you to place a walnut and dried fig in your mouth to prove my point. Today, I’m encouraging you to try these Paximadia with figs, walnuts and ground star anise.
You could call these biscotti but us Greeks call them Paximadia. Paximadia or dried rusks/breads which have been around since ancient times. Cookbook author Georgia Koufinas says that Paximadia used to be called “dipyros”, which means “twice baked’. The Greek word Paximadi can be traced to a barley rusk named after a late Hellenistic Period cook named Paxamus (1st Century AD). Paximadia were the food of the poor as they were made of coarse grain flours and kept well on long journeys thereby earning it’s place in the pantries of farmers and sailors. Paximadia were the basic food of Byzantine armies and later the Venetian armies. Italians call Paximadia “biscotti”, also meaning “twice baked”.
The third flavourful ingredient for these Paximadia is star anise. Reminiscent of anise but much more complex, exotic and wonderful with figs. Star anise is not a widely used spice in Greece but that’s not to say it’s not used at all either. At a tour/visit of the Tsantali Ouzo Distillery in Halkidiki and I learned that star anise was one of the ingredients used to make their Ouzo. Ouzo is made from grapes and stems so therefore it’s only fitting than some Petimezi sneaks into the recipe. Petimezi* is a grape molasses and I’ve diluted it here with some water and brushed the tops of the Paximadia with it so that the sesame seeds adhere well.
So, naturally a shot of Ouzo also made it’s way into this easy recipe. This recipe is wonderful for the Christmas holidays and holiday entertaining it’s in full stride and the almost potpourri aromas that fills your home while baking these will set you in the mood for Christmas. These are the perfect accompaniment for coffee or tea and I look forward to dunking a paximadi into my Greek coffee.
Paximadia With Figs, Star Anise & Walnuts (Παξιμαδια με Συκα, Αστεροειδής Γλυκάνισος & Καρύδια)
1 cup olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp. ground star anise
1 shot of Ouzo
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup chopped dry figs
1 cup chopped walnuts
approx. 4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 heaping tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. of Petimezi mixed in with 2 Tbsp. of water
sesame seeds for coating
(pre-heat your oven to 350F)
- Using your hands, mix the oil, Ouzo, star anise, sugar, vanilla, and eggs (add 1 at a time) and incorporate well. In another bowl, add your baking powder and flour and mix well.
- Add your dry ingredients plus the walnuts and chopped dry figs to your wet ingredients and knead with your hands for about 5 minutes. You should at this time have a soft dough, smooth and not too tacky.
- Form your dough into loaves and mix the Petimezi with water in a bowl and brush the tops of your loaves with it, then press the sesame seeds into the dough by wrapping the loaves with wax (or parchment) paper. Now generously sprinkle the sesame seeds on the tops of the loaves. Place the loaves on parchment paper and leave as much empty space between each loaf as they will expand while in the oven.
- Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 20 minutes or until light-gold and slightly firm to the touch. Remove the Paximadia from the oven and turn off your oven.
- Slice your Paximadia widthwise (serrated knife) and lay them back out on the baking sheet. Place them back in the turned-off oven for at least an hour to dry out. The residual heat of the oven will do the rest of the work.
- Store in air-tight containers for up to 3 months.
If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.
© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis
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© 2010, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.