Oasis Rolls

Date Rolls


For me, the appeal of these pretty biscuits lies in the stark contrast between the dry, crumbly pastry and the sweet, sticky filling. It’s like finding a rich oasis of flavour after a dry and dusty trek through the desert!

OK, so I might be pushing the metaphor a bit – it’s a bite into a biscuit, not Lawrence of Arabia rescuing Gasim from the Empty Quarter, but work with me…..

The pastry contains semolina, which gives it it’s characteristic crumble, and the filling – well, that’s pretty much up to you. I particularly like the combination of date and lemon, but you could equally go with prunes, figs or indeed any ‘sticky’ dried fruit. Mince in something complimentary, such as candied orange or lemon peel, or even chopped nuts for a bit of crunch.  As long as it holds together, and you like the flavour, anything is possible.

Another characteristic of the pastry is that it will hold a pattern during baking, and I’ve taken the opportunity to play around with my set of fondant crimpers to mark the pastry with a range of designs. Since the rolls only have to be baked long enough to cook the pastry, and no more, the contrast between the paleness of the pastry and the dark interior is one I find very aesthetically pleasing. Of course, you don’t HAVE to use crimpers – anything that will make a mark can be used: toothpicks, mini cutters, jagging wheel, etc. or indeed nothing at all.

The price for all this delight is that the pastry is very delicate, both before and after baking. You will need to be very gentle handling it whilst marking any pattern, and I strongly recommend moving the warm biscuits onto the cooling rack with a thin slice. They are a little more robust once cool, but it is still possible to squish the pattern if you’re a little heavy-handed. Let’s be careful out there!

One final point – to bake the rolls without colouring the pastry, you will need to use a non-fan oven.

Oasis Rolls

For the filling
250g chopped dates
zest and juice of 1 lemon

For the pastry
280g plain flour
50g semolina
1tsp baking powder
40g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
60ml vegetable oil
1tsp orange blossom water or vanilla extract

  • Put the dates, zest and juice into a food processor and blitz to a paste.
  • Form the paste into long rolls about 2cm in diameter. Cover with cling film and chill until required. Rinse and dry the food processor bowl.
  • Put the pastry ingredients into the clean food processor bowl and blitz until the mixture comes together as a soft dough.
  • Tip out and knead smooth, then wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  • Once the pastry has chilled, roll out between two sheets of cling film, to a thickness of about 1cm.
  • Remove the top layer of cling film and lay a roll of the filling onto the pastry.
  • Use the bottom sheet of cling film to lift the pastry around and over the filling, wrapping it like a sausage roll.
  • Trim off any excess pastry and make sure the roll is laying on the joining seam of the pastry. Trim the ends of the roll off neatly.
  • Repeat until all the filling has been wrapped in dough.
  • Cut your rolls into even lengths 8-10cm is a nice size both for making patterns on and for eating.
  • Mark each roll with patterns – optional – and lay carefully onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  • When all are finished, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge while the oven heats up.
  • Heat the oven to 180°C.
  • Bake the biscuits for 14-16 minutes, until the pastry is cooked but still pale.
  • Allow the biscuits to cool on the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

One Comment on “Oasis Rolls”

  1. Suelle says:

    I love using the flavours of the middle east, particularly in my baking. I have found some of the pastry recipes I’ve used difficult to handle, so must give this one a try. These look very smart with the crimped decoration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.