Maamoul with dates, orange blossom essence and rose water: all the magic of the East

Making maamoul for Easter is a family ritual.
Maamouls are semolina and butter cakes flavoured with orange blossom water and rose water and filled with dates, or chopped nuts. They are served at Easter in Lebanese Christian households and in our family they are a ritual when everyone tucks in.

Time consuming, they are an act of love and Easter would not be Easter without them.  Sadly, some  friends have compared them to eating soap, because of the association of rose water and orange blossom essence to fragrances.  The truth of the matter, these tiny cakes melt in your mouth and each bite is a satisfying combination of tastes.  With a cup of good strong coffee they are the perfect end to a meal.

Making maamoul is fun

Maamoul with dates
Maamoul bi balah

It is easier to use maamoul molds to make these cake. Most lebanese delis sell them either wooden or in plastic. You can however make them by hand. 
It is easier and less time consuming to make a tray with two layers of semolina dough with a filling of your choice. Bake, leave to cool and cut into squares or lozenges

300 g fine semolina
2 tablespoons plain white flour
150 g butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
2 teaspoons rose water
1 teaspoon Mahlab
½ teaspoon baking powder
2/3 tablespoons warm milk
For the filling:

250 g dates, pitted
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
2 teaspoons rose water
50 g butter

Preparation time: 1 hour and overnight
Baking time: 35 minutes
Serves 20 to 25 cakes

  1. Prepare the dough overnight.  In a mixing bowl, place together semolina, flour, sugar, baking powder, orange and rosewater and Mahlab. 
  2. Melt the butter on low heat. Do not allow it to sizzle. 
  3. Pour over the semolina mixture and combine well.  
  4. Knead for a few minutes. Cover and leave to rest overnight.
  5. For the date filling:  place the dates, butter and flavourings in a food processor and blend until the mixture comes together as a sticky paste.
  6. To bake them flat and cut them into slices: butter an oven proof dish (18x12cm). Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  7. Retrieve the semolina mixture which has been resting overnight. At first it will feel crumbly. You need to bring it together by adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of warm milk and kneading the dough for a few minutes until it soft and malleable.
  8. Divide the semolina mixture in two portions. Lay the first half in the bottom of the buttered dish and pack well. 
  9. Place the date mixture over the semolina base. 
  10. Finally cover these two layers with the rest of the dough. Smooth the surface well and bake in the centre oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
  11. Allow the cake to cool overnight if possible before cutting it into little squares and serving.
To make little maaamoul cakes:
  1. Follow the steps until number 7, do not butter a dish but pre-heat the oven to 180 C and get a baking tray ready.
  2. Take some dough and work it with your hands to form a round the size of a ping pong ball.
  3. with you forefinger make a big enough hole to fill with a teaspoon of date mixture.
  4. Pinch the dough back together to close the hole. 
  5. Either place this ball in a hold, pressing very lightly, enough to leave indents or simply place on the tray and decorate using a fork. This is where your creativity will run loose.   
  6. Once you used up all the dough, bake in the centre oven for 12 to 15 minutes. 
  7. It is  well ready to take out when the base is beginning to colour. 
  8. Handle only when completely cooled.  


  1. Thanks for this post. I have Lebanese heritage and am familiar with Maamoul, but I did not know the significance of this tasty cookie with Easter. I look forward to learning more from your blog.

  2. Thank you Angela for the follow.
    We will be posting more information and recipes.
    If you have any requests or questions please tell us and we will try to answer them.
    We love to hear from you!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.