Sunday, December 11, 2016

Another Egyptian Christmas Cookie Recipe ~ Sablee ~

Imagine yourself being raised in a large village in upper Egypt. You and your family's life evolves very much around the Coptic Church calendar.  On November 25th of this year (old calendar), the Copts began their nativity fast which means that all animal products are avoided (fish and seafood are OK).  The fast will end with the glorious Feast of the Nativity on January 7th; the birth of our Lord.

Copts have a lot of traditional Christmas foods and today I will share with you another recipe that is popular for the holidays.  I love baking Christmas cookies and this particular recipe is so dear to my heart.  My dear, dear friend Vivian gave it to me during the first Christmas I was married.  She had gotten this recipe from her sister-in-law, Zaizaf, who was an excellent baker.  Both Vivian and Zaizaf were raised in upper Egypt as was my husband.  The ingredients are very simple.

Recipe for Egyptian Sablee:
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla powder (use extract if you wish)
1 1/2 cups Crisco (vegetable shortening)
Little water if needed
Apricot jam for filling

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar and vanilla powder together.  Cut in the shortening until it resembles small pieces like the photo above.  At this point, you may add 1 tablespoon cold water and mix dough just until it comes together.  Please do not knead or overwork the dough :)

 Just mix the dough until it looks like above.  Now you are ready for the fun part of cutting out the dough.

Flour the board and take a small fist of dough and roll it out; not too thin and not too thick.  Cut into your desired shapes (round is the traditional shape).  Place cut out dough on an ungreased cookie sheet.

You will have some scraps left over so take those scraps of dough and add a small piece of fresh dough and roll out again and cut out the shapes.  Keep repeating this until all the dough is used up.  By using the scraps along with fresh dough each time, your cookies will not become tough.

Just remember to cut out the middle of half of the cookies you are making.  You will be sandwiching these two cookies together with the cut out on top.  My recipe makes approximately 40 cookies so that means 40 whole and 40 with cut out tops!  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for approximately 8 to 9 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Remove from cookie sheet and let cool on a rack.

I usually bake these ahead of time and store them in a tight container without the jam filling.  When I'm ready to serve them, I add a small spoonful of jam and sandwich them together and sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar over the top before serving.  As to the jam, I used some raspberry jam that my son brought me from Ukraine but the traditional jam to use is apricot.  I'll be filling the remainder with apricot as the apricot jam is dry versus the watery raspberry!

From you photo above, you can see the mix of traditions in my house as the little tablecloth with the nisseman is from Denmark and the cookies are Egyptian!  Fun time for the holidays . . .

I hope you will enjoy these if you make them.  And, as always, thank you for stopping by.  Until next time

My best wishes,



  1. Thanks for a lovely recipe! I didn't realize that your husband was Coptic. We're Greek Orthodox - very similar! : ) According to our tradition, these cookies are permissible for the fasting season (no animal products) - which leaves me with a question - are these traditionally enjoyed during the fast, or are they served on Christmas itself?

    1. Hi Anna, my friends served these before and during the holiday season. They also make them for Pascha. You are correct in that they are lenten and perfect to serve anytime! Have a blessed holiday, Pat

  2. These look beautiful and are no doubt delicious.

  3. We make these very same biscuits in Switzerland! I always use raspberry jam, my favourite.

  4. They look so tasty I like that Christmas can bring together ideas from all over the world.

  5. I enjoy reading about the different traditions around the world and the food connected with the seasons. The biscuits look so pretty and must be delicious served on your Danish cloth. I'm particularly thinking of the Coptic Egyptians right now and praying for those living in their native country.

  6. Thanks for sharing this recipe and some of its history for you, Pat! I want to try to make some cookies :) xx


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