Balak Recipe – Ba’aba Beh Tamur – Iraqi Stuffed Pastries

Miriam Kresh

About 30 pastries

Notes: the original recipe calls for butter. Pareve margarine works fine too. Likewise, it assumes that you’ll be mixing the dough in a mixer. I just beat everything up by hand.
I substitute 1 teaspoon freshly-smashed cardamom seeds for the fennel in the recipe because I dislike fennel. Lacking either of those, use 2 teaspoons cinnamon or the zest of 1 lemon. The dough must have something aromatic or it will be too bland.

For Dough:
1 cube fresh yeast
1 cup warm water
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted butter (or margarine)
1 beaten egg for glazing

1. Dissolve yeast in water. Add flour, baking powder, fennel or other spice, and melted butter. Mix until you have a soft dough that forms a ball.
2. Cover with plastic bag or damp cloth; allow to rise 1 hour or until doubled.
3. Preheat oven to 425°F – 200°C.
4. Work with a quarter of the dough at the time for convenience. Roll it out 1/4″ thin. Use a large biscuit cutter or glass to cut into 3″ rounds. Brush the rounds with a little water.
5. Mix filling ingredients in a small bowl. Put 1 teaspoon filling in the center of each round and fold it over. Press your fingers down all around the edges to seal, or use the tines of a fork. Brush beaten egg on pastries.
Bake 25 minutes.
Date Filling for about 30 pastries:
8 oz. – 250 grams pitted, finely chopped dates. Here you can get date paste in blocks and that’s better.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon milk
1 egg white
sesame seeds

Combine ingredients in top of a double boiler and cook 5 minutes, stirring a few times. Allow the mixture to cool and roll it into balls for stuffing the pastry. When forming the pastry, place a small ball at the center of each pastry round and pinch the sides upwards to make a closed bundle. Flip over and flatten slightly with the rolling pin. Pierce with a fork in several places. Paint the pastries with an egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake as directed above.

Miriam makes Ba’aba Beh Tamur for Purim. See her blog for her recipes for almond filling and cheese filling:

Miriam Kresh
Miriam Kresh grew up in the US, and lived in Brazil and Venezuela before moving to Israel 33 years ago. Her cuisine has been influenced by the flavors of Latin America, the midwestern US, French and Italian cooking, and the flavors of the Middle East. She shares her passion for cooking through her blog Israeli Kitchen:

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