Pasteli | power bar of the ancients

Pasteli | power bar of the ancients

Would you like to sample an authentic food as eaten by the Ancient Greeks? Well, with this month’s contribution to Sofia’s Kitchen you need look no further.

With Christmas fast approaching here's a scrumptious addition to your sweets table. Greeks have been baking this delicious dessert since way bake to the 3rd century AD!

If the Greeks are still cooking and enjoying pasteli after all this time, how can you go wrong?

History

The origins of pasteli (Παστέλι), a honey and sesame bar sold everywhere in Greece from supermarkets to delis to bakeries, can be traced back to Greek and Roman antiquity. Athenaeus of Naucratis, in his Deipnosophistae ('The Dinner Experts'), written in the 3rd century AD, mentions it many times, and references to pasteli can be found all over ancient Greek and Byzantine texts.

Pasteli  might be one of the easiest Ancient Greek recipes you can make and one that is still eaten by countless Greeks all around the world. It’s made pretty much the same way, yet you may find it with different types of nuts or dried fruits.

Serves 20 - 24 pieces

Preparation time: 20 minutes | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 500gm sesame seeds, toasted in the oven or in a large heavy based pan on the stove top.
  • 500gm walnuts
  • 500gm honey
  • 1 cup of almond flakes
  • ½ 25g packet of vanilla sugar
  • 1½ tbsp sugar

Method

  • Toast your sesame seeds in the oven
  • Combine the honey with the sugar and vanilla sugar in a saucepan, and heat over a medium flame until it starts to bubble
  • Add the sesame seeds and cook slowly, stirring constantly for about 10-15mins until the mixture develops a gold colouring
  • Mix in the walnuts
  • Spread some baking paper in a shallow tray or stone cutting board
  • Pour the hot sesame mixture onto the baking paper and work the surface with a spatula until it has a uniform thickness of about ½ inch (1.27cm)
  • Take some baking paper, place it on top of the sesame mixture, and use a rolling pin to gently even out the surface
  • Remove the baking paper, sprinkle the almond flakes on top and press in
  • Cut into diamond shapes and let it set at room temperature

Recipe | images | information sources

Recipe: Everyday Gourmet | Kathy Tsaples
History: Culinary Backstreets
Images: Anastasia Siomou, Culinary Backstreets