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Please pass me the sesame cakes.

Miriam serves these sesame cakes warm and topped with currants and dates after a Shabbat meal, but she also takes them with her when venturing on a mission into the impenetrable darkness of Alexandria’s malignant backstreets. She explains:

I needed answers, and I needed them in a hurry. I was counting the few days I had left when a ghost-like reflection of Phoebe appeared in one of the windows.

“Here, take these,” she said when I looked back to face her.

In addition to her hooded cloak, she brought me a portable lantern and a bundle of sesame cakes wrapped in vine leaves. “Be careful,” she said. “You can shield the lantern in the folds of the cloak, but if the bearers carry your suspect into a winding alleyway or worse yet into a backstreet haunted by drunken derelicts or half-starved dogs, turn around at once and come home. I’ll be waiting for you right here.”

So, here’s the recipe for Ancient Roman Sesame Cakes. It’s easy enough!


2 1/2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 1/2 cup honey 2 eggs 1/2 cup sesame seeds

Melted butter (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease two baking sheets. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, honey, and eggs and mix until well combined. Gradually beat in the flour mixture.

Cover and chill the dough about 1 hour or until firm. Form chilled dough into 1-inch balls and place balls on prepared baking sheets. Flatten each ball slightly.

Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown. While warm, remove cakes from baking sheets, brush with melted butter if desired, and roll in sesame seeds.

Makes about 40.

Serve them with a glass of posca (see my blog of Oct.17) and a Miriam bat Isaac mystery.

Click here to pick one. Enjoy!

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