Cookies filled with a fragrant date paste.
Put the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl and mix together.
Add the melted butter and 75ml of the milk to the dry ingredients and bring together until you have a soft smooth dough. Add more milk (or water) if required. You should have a soft pliable dough, which is not sticky. Knead for 10 minutes.
Place the dough back in the bowl (no need to clean or oil it), cover with a tea-towel and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour.
While the dough is proving, prepare your date paste by mixing the dates with the melted butter and the cardamom. Blend well until you have a uniformly smooth paste.
Divide the proved dough into 4 portions and roll one out into a rectangle about 5mm thick (ensure it is liftable from the worktop). Spread a quarter of the date mixture over the whole pastry then from the long edge, roll the pastry up like a swiss roll. Ensure the edge is sealed, then with a clean sharp knife, slice 1cm thick rounds and place on a baking tray (leave a bit of space between them).
Repeat with another section of dough to make more spirals.
With the remaining pastry either make more spirals or make filled crescents. Use a circular pastry cutter and put a spoonful of date paste on one half leaving a 0.5cm border. Slightly dampen the edges with water, then fold the empty half over to make a semi circle. Using the tines of a fork, press all the way around the edges to seal, then shape into a crescent. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place on a prepared baking tray.
If using nigella seeds, lightly dampen or brush the crescents with milk (or water), then sprinkle the seeds on top.
Bake at Gas Mark 4 (350f / 180c) for 15- 20 minutes. The ulicha should be strting to turn golden. Allow to cool before moving to a wire rack. Caution filling will be hot - allow to cool! Dust with icing sugar before serving.