Feb 25, 2013

Assyrian Spinach Pies | Syrian Sabanrhiyat

Assyrian Spinach Pies

Today was a busy baking day. We were out of town for a couple of days and I only had a couple of leftover slices of homemade bread in the freezer. Yikes! Time to remedy this situation.

Assyrian Spinach Pies

I made three loaves of bread... (to be posted later)... and then these little spinach filled hand pies for dinner... and breakfast tomorrow. So good. They are yeasted dough filled with spinach, onions, dried cherries, feta, lemon zest and juice, pepper, toasted walnuts, and olive oil. The dough is amazingly easy to work with. The original recipe calls for ground mahlab. Since I did not have that on hand, and already have enough ingredients in my house, I used ground cardamom as a substitute.

Don't you just love the shape of these things? They kind of remind me of Paul Revere and the Raiders or fife and drum hats.

Assyrian Spinach Pies

I am participating as a Buddy with the Bread Baking Babes. This month, the Bread Baking Babes are celebrating their fifth anniversary, and Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups is the kitchen of the month. This recipe is originally from A Baker's Odyssey: Celebrating Time-Honored Recipes from America's Rich Immigrant Heritage by Greg Patent. Check out Tanna's post for links to all of the babes' takes on this recipe. Thanks Tanna!

Assyrian Spinach Pies Karen's Kitchen Stories

Assyrian Spinach Pies

Makes 12 hand pies



1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 C warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp flax seed meal
3/4 C water
10.7 ounces unbleached all purpose flour
1 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 T + 1 tsp olive oil


1/4 C olive oil, divided 
1 small sweet onion, chopped
8 ounces spinach, roughly chopped
2 ounces chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 C dried cherries, roughly chopped
4 ounces feta
Zest and juice of one lemon (I used a Meyer lemon)
1 tsp ground pepper

To finish the pies:

One egg, beaten with a little bit of water
Spray oil, melted butter, or olive oil


Make the dough:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the 1/4 C warm water, yeast, and cardamom. Let it sit for a few minutes to let the yeast dissolve. 
  • Add the rest of the dough ingredients and stir with a dough whisk or large spoon to combine. Let it stand for 5 minutes.
  • Knead with the stand mixer for about 8 minutes. Adjust the dough/water ratio to achieve a smooth and slightly tacky dough.
  • Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket and allow to double at room temperature, about an hour. 
  • Divide the dough into 12 even pieces and form the pieces into balls. Cover the dough balls with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax. 

Make the filling:

  • In a large skillet, heat one T of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 8 minutes. 
  • Add the spinach and saute for about a minute or two, until just wilted. 
  • Scrape the spinach/onion mixture into a large bowl and add the rest of the filling ingredients. 

To make the pies:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and prepare two half sheet pans with parchment paper.
  • Divide the filling into 12 equal parts.
  • Working one dough piece at a time, roll the dough into a 6 inch circle.
  • Place 1/12 of the filling in the center, brush the rim with the egg, and gather the dough up in thirds as pictured. Dip your hands in the water to keep them from sticking to the dough and to help you shape the dough. 
  • Once you have a sheet pan filled with six pies, spray them with spray oil (or brush with olive oil or butter) and bake the pies for 25 to 30 minutes. 
  • While the first sheet is baking, prepare the second sheet and bake when the first sheet is done.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature. 

To save for later:

  • You can freeze these pies after baking. After they have cooled, wrap each pie individually in freezer wrap and then place them in a freezer bag. Thaw individually in the wrapping, and then bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. 
Assyrian Spinach Pies | Syrian Sabanrhiyat


  1. Thank you so much Karen, I've been looking for mahleb everywhere but couldn't find it (yet). Great idea to use cardamom.

    They look wonderful! Can't wait to taste them.

    1. I've heard they have it at Penzey's. I liked the cardamom but I have no idea what I'm missing!

  2. That sounds great! I like Middle Eastern Food, and will copy your recipe for speedy execution.

  3. You have done it again! Amazing!!! Looks so perfect almost too good to eat.. almost! ;)

  4. Karen you got really gorgeous color! We enjoyed these so very much, glad you did too.
    Delighted to have you bake with us.

    1. Thanks for having me! I was thrilled with the color. I did them one sheet at a time, which I think helps.

  5. They look great, Karen. They'd make great appetizers for a dinner party.

    1. Thanks Hanaa. Yes, we could make mini ones!

  6. Wow you have such great shaping on these, I get your feeling for hats :-)

  7. They look beautiful, Karen - like burnished gold! Mmmm, dried cherries instead of pomegranate....

    1. I got that idea from Heather's post and went with it. I liked the result!

  8. The hand pies look amazing, I'd love to try these.

  9. Karen, in California there are lots of Middle Eastern Stores where you can find ground Maleb, which is the nut of the sour cherry seed... I prefer it whole and ground it myself and use it in all my savoury and sweet bread.
    p.s.: Just as a correction these pastries are not Syrian Pastries they are Lebanese, the addition of Feta Cheese give them a Greek twist. We use ground Sumac and Pomegranate Molasses to boost the sour taste.


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