Sicilian Date, Fig and Lemon Biscuits Cuchidahti

, from Issue #29. September, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Sicilian Date, Fig and Lemon Biscuits Cuchidahti

Dish’s Food Director, Catherine Bell, discovered cuchidahti in Erice, a village perched on the top of a rock in the northwest of Sicily. “It was a miserable day and the village was enveloped in cloud. The café we took shelter in had a pile of these on the counter. They looked like slightly weird hands but were utterly delicious with their soft, melt-in-the-mouth pastry and tangy lemon and dried fruit filling. Substitute the zest and juice with that of an orange for a change of flavour.”


175 grams pitted dates, roughly chopped
175 grams dried figs, roughly chopped
70 grams butter at room temperature
zest and juice of 1 large lemon

150 grams butter at room temperature
½ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¾ cups plain flour

2 cups icing sugar, sifted
¼ cup milk
1 lemon


Put the dates, figs, butter, lemon zest and juice in a food processor and process to a smooth paste. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Dough: Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. Fold in the flour to make a smooth dough.

Turn out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and form into a disc. Wrap and refrigerate until firm. The dough will be very soft when first made.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Cut the dough into three even pieces. Working with one piece at a time and keeping the remaining pastry refrigerated, roll out on a well-floured surface to a rectangle 40 cm x 10 cm. Put a third of the filling, in teaspoonfuls, along the centre of the pastry, leaving a border each side. Don’t flatten the filling. Brush the border lightly with water and fold one side of the dough over the filling, then roll the pastry towards you to form a log. If it breaks, gently press the pastry together. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling.

Cut into 9 cm pieces and carefully lift onto a lined baking tray. Cut 4 slits along the top and gently bend each roll into a slight curve. Refrigerate until firm.

Bake for 20 minutes until a light golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Icing: Combine the icing sugar and milk in a bowl until smooth. You want a thick, but pouring consistency so adjust with more icing sugar or milk as needed. Using a teaspoon, drizzle the icing over the biscuits and using a fine grater, zest the lemon over the icing before it sets.

Dust with icing sugar to serve. Makes about 20.