It was my birthday over the weekend and I wanted to make myself some sort of birthday treat. Although originally I was thinking a cake from my Magnolia Bakery cookbook (there was a recipe for a banana one with coconut icing that sounded delicious), I reasoned that a three tier cake is way too much for two people to consume (healthily that is). Hopefully some event will come up later on that I can give it a whirl. I decided on a Moroccan Serpent Cake as its size was perfect even if having to work with filo pastry is always a tricky endeavor. While mine didn’t come out nearly as beautifully as the one featured in the cookbook (the coil look that is), it still tasted delicious and was definitely not your typical vanilla birthday cake.
Moroccan Serpent Cake
recipe courtesy of Mediterranean Cooking by Jacqueline Clarke and Joanna Farrow
8 sheets of filo pastry
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
icing sugar, for dusting
FOR THE ALMOND PASTE
about 1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups ground almonds
1/2 tsp almond essence
1/2 cup icing sugar
egg yolk, beaten
1 tbsp rose water or orange flower water (optional)
-First make the almond paste. Blend the melted butter with the ground almonds and almond essence. Add the icing sugar, egg yolk and rose or orange flower water, if using, mix well and knead until soft and pliable. Chill the paste for about 10 minutes.
-Break the almond paste into 10 balls. Roll them into 4 inch sausages. Chill again.
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, then place two sheets of pilo pastry on a work surface so that they overlap to form a 7 x 22 inch rectangle. Brush the overlapping pastry to secure and then brush all over with butter. Cover with another two sheets of filo and brush again with butter.
-Place five sausages of almond paste along the lower edge of the filo sheet and roll up the pastry tightly, tucking in the ends. Shape the roll into a loose coil. Repeat with the remaining filo and almond paste, so that you have two coils.
-Brush a large baking sheet with butter and place the coils together to make a coiled “serpent.”
-Beat together the egg and half of the cinnamon. Brush over the pastry snake and then bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Carefully invert the snake on to another baking sheet and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until the side now uppermost is golden.
-Place on a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar and then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon. Serve warm.