Okay, I had the day off today so I decided to put my money literally where my mouth is and tried making some maza. I had a qualified success and a dismal failure, but Here's the play by play.
First, it was VERY hard to find barley flour. I finally tracked it down at an Indian grocery store in the area, so I bought two small bags (total $5.00 - okay, so not a LOT of money where my mouth is).
I tried two recipes:
First, make your álphita. Pour 1 and 1/4 cups of barley flour into a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir it thoroughly with a wooden spoon until it gives off a toasted aroma and turns a rich brown color. Then, remove from the heat and add 1/2 a cup of water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Continue stirring until you have an even, thick dough.
2 cups, 12 tbsp (680 mL) barley flour
2/3 cup (160 mL) water
3 tbsp (45 mL) honey
3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
In a large mixing bowl, coming barley flour, water, honey and olive oil by hand into a dough. Cover and rest in fridge for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325F/160C. Brush a baking tray with olive oil. Form dough into golf ball-sized spheres. On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 1 cm thick. Bake on tray until crispy, about 10 to 15 minutes, turning halfway. Place on wire rack to cool.
I tried making them both but made a 1/2 batch of the 2nd one (from The Star).
I left the flour in the skillet WAY too long!! It had a very pleasant nutty odor early on in the skillet roasting process, but I couldn't see the color on the stove well. And, I believe I burned it. This is the color of the finished balls at the end of the process.
They tasted terrible and the texture didn't set up. Plus there was the cognitive dissonance of them looking like chocolate. They were NOT chocolate! They also weren't dry like they look in the Pass the Flamingo pictures because I think I added too much water - going unconsciously for a batter almost. They were like slightly congealed pudding and tasted of burnt flour. NOT pleasant! I even tried baking them, but they never set up, and tasted possibly worse!
VERDICT on the Pass the Flamingo recipe: I may try it again. Pan roast flour for less time. Use much less water! Wait until flour is completely cooled (I put some of the water in when the skillet was still hot!). And make an actual dough and bake it anyway even if the recipe doesn't call for it. If I could get that nutty smell into the finished product, it might be worth experimenting again.
The Star recipe:
I made 1/2 batch of the batter with the honey and olive oil. I did NOT roll them out thin like the recipe said to. Slight mistake there. I put my hand in the photo for size. Here's a finished one after baking more than 2x as long as the recipe calls for... because they were thicker.
Photo taken at an angle. It's about the size of a cookie.
VERDICT on The Star recipe: The taste was quite pleasant with the honey. The texture wasn't great. BUT I think *when* (yes, when) I do it again, I'm going to keep the idea of a tortilla (Thanks, Joshua !) in mind instead of a "loaf" of bread or "pita bread". Without the gluten, that's not going to happen. I will definitely make them larger and flatter, going for a crispy texture.
So, If I were to give my experiments a grade:
0/10 - Pass the Flamingo (but most - if not all - of that is on me, need to follow the recipe + bake the final product)
5/10 - The Star (Has some potential and worth trying again with some tweaks - In fact, I ate another small one as I'm typing this. Yes, worth another try at some point... tortilla style )