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Date Rolls

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 stick less 1 tablespoon sweet butter, softened
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons milk

FILLING :
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and chopped

Make the filling first. Melt the butter together with the water in a saucepan, then add the chopped dates. Cook on a low heat, stirring the dates and pressing down until they become a soft paste. Remove and cool.

To make the dough, sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Cut the soft butter into small pieces and work it into the flour with your fingers. Add the sugar and mix in thoroughly. Make a well in the center, pour in the oil and milk, then continue to knead the dough until pieces flake off the sides of the bowl. Knead a further 10 minutes, then roll into a ball and chill.

Now preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a large baking tray. Remove the dough from the refridgerator and divide into three portions. Knead each well.

On a floured board roll out and flatten a ball of dough. Cut into a neat rectangle shape. Spread one-third of the date mixture thinly over the top. Roll the rectangle into a roll and continue to roll backwards and forwards until it grows longer and thinner. Slice this into flat, diagonal sections, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Repeat this process using the remaining balls of dough.

Place all slices side by side on the greased baking sheet and prick the tops lightly with a fork. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the pre-heated oven until slightly colored (if you overcook them, become hard). Allow to cool, then dust with powdered sugar.

Makes about 24 rolls.

From "Cooking the Middle Eastern Way" by Christine Osborne

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