Fekkas or fakkas is a famous twice-baked Moroccan cookie very much like biscotti. In Morocco we find them in different shapes and sizes and with different additions. This recipe is for a classic version called fekkas msseoues with almonds and raisins. The term msseoues refers to the small holes or spots that show up in the cookie around the seeds, almonds and raisins. Sometimes those ingredients fall out and leave bigger holes.
In Fez it’s tradition to serve broken bits of fekkas or small fekkas (about 0.4″/1 cm large) in a cup or bowl of milk as a breakfast for children. This used to be my bowl of “cereal” when I was little and you’ll still find families enjoying fekkas this way.
Variations of Fekkas
As a variation, the recipe can be prepared with only sesame seeds and anise seeds. Raisins or almonds can be omitted and in modern variations other nuts such as pistachio or hazelnuts might be used in place of almonds.
You will find the word “fekkas” also used in reference to some small sweet or savory shortbreads; krichlates or fqiqssat fall under this category. This sort of biscuit does not require double-baking and hence is ready in lesser time.
There are a few recipes for fekkas. The most basic of them is one made from krachel (a sweet enriched bread) that had gone stale. The rolls would be cut and baked again to make bejmat, a word used to identify plain fekkas in some areas of Morocco. We can also make fekkas using a krachel dough which we shape into large or tiny long cylinders, bake, cut and bake again. The latter version is nut-free.
Fekkas is relatively easy to make as long as you know your oven well and you learn to remove the logs of dough from the oven after their first baking before they become too hard to cut later. This reduces the chance of having a lot of broken biscuits.
Always keep fekkas for in an airtight container. They will last a few months this way.
Moroccan Fekkas with Almonds and Raisins - Fekkas Msseoues
- 1.3 lbs all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4.5 oz dried raisins
- 4.5 oz almonds, skin on washed, drained and pat-dried
- 5 oz sugar
- 3 tbsp aniseed, roughly crushed (or half aniseed and half fennel seeds)
- 5 fl oz vegetable oil
- 3 eggs medium-size, at room temperature
- 2 fl oz orange blossom water (or half milk, half orange blossom water)
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds unhulled, slightly toasted
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp milk
- drops of white vinegar
- 1/4 tsp instant coffee powder (optional)
Ahead of Time - Prep the Ingredients
- Soak the almonds in cold milk or water for at least 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Roughly chop them.
Wash the raisins and soak them in the orange blossom water for 5 minutes.Sift the baking powder with the flour and set aside.
Make the Dough
- In a large bowl, mix eggs and sugar with a fork or whisk until foamy. Add all the other ingredients except baking powder and flour. Mix well.
- Little by little, add the sifted flour with baking powder. If you need any more flour to bring it to a soft smooth dough add 1 tablespoon at a time. Flour absorption differs from one country to another.
- Work the dough with your hands until a soft dough forms. You don't need to knead it.
- Cut the dough into 4 and roll each one back and forth on a work surface to form a sort of fat sausage or roll of dough about 0.7"/2 cm high to 1"/2.5 cm and 2"/5 cm to 2.5"/ 6.5 cm base. The length of the dough logs will depend on the baking sheet you will be using.
- Carefully transfer each roll of dough to a baking sheet. Brush the logs with egg
- With a fork, draw straight lines or crossed lines in the egg-wash but not the dough itself. So try to have a light hand.
- Preheat the oven to 338° F (170° C). Bake for about 15 -20 minutes. Since ovens and thickness are different, you should be looking for the following: the rolls need to form a light crust without really being completely baked. We just half-bake them. The texture inside should be a bit soft but already showing a crumbly but compact texture. The outside should be bit springy to the touch.
- Let the baked logs cool a bit then cover them with a cloth. They need to rest overnight or at least 6 hours. (A faster option is to cover them with a damp cloth for about 1 hour before cutting them, but in our family we just follow the first option.)
Cutting and Baking Fekkas
- With a sharp knife, carefully cut the fekkas into ½ cm thick slices. Cut them slightly diagonal. Be careful not to break them.
- Place the slices on a baking sheet. If you have added raisins, you need to line your pan with baking paper. As the fekkas will not spread at this stage, you can arrange them touching each other; no need to keep space in between.
- Bake in a 338° F (170° C) oven until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave them inside.
- Let them cool before removing them very carefully from the baking sheet.
Use the Broken Fekkas
- Serve broken fekkas with milk for a nice morning breakfast. Let them soak for a couple of minutes and eat like cereal.
- You can also use broken bits of fekkas as a crumble over fruit salads or tarts and over panna cotta or muhallabia.
- Respect the resting time between 1st baking and cutting.
- To avoid breakage, it’s also advised to chop almonds in tiny crumbs instead of having big pieces.
- The idea of adding instant coffee to the egg-wash is not that old (only about 20 years). It just gives a nice color to fekkas. And just like vinegar, it neutralizes the taste from the yolk. So if you use the coffee you wouldn't need the vinegar.