Ka'ak - Middle Eastern bread from the Levant.

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Ka'ak or Kahqa is the common Arabic word for 'biscuit'. However, it also refers to a bread that is popular throughout the region of the Levant: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Jordan. Perhaps the most famous ka'ak is ka'ak il qudss from Palestinian Jerusalem.  

In the 13th century cookbook, Kitab al Wusla il al Habib, there are three recipes for ka'ak. The cookbook was written in Aleppo during the time  of the Ayyubids, a dynasty of Kurdish origin (1169 - 1260), whose most famous son was Saladin. Even earlier, the Egyptians have prepared kahk since the 18th dynasty (1550 - 1292 BC).

Ka'ak sellers stand on pavements with their wooden trays stacked high. Very often, they'll be selling baked eggs to accompany the ka'ak.

The bread is often eaten for breakfast along with za'atar - a spiced condiment, or with hummus or falafel. 

In the Lebanon, it's glazed with milk and sugar, giving it a sweet finish, rather like a doughnut. 

What makes the perfect Ka'ak?  Well, should be crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside with lots of air pockets. And, of course, it should be smothered in sesame seeds. 

So, let's make Ka'ak. By the way...if you're wondering how to pronounce it.....

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

500 gms strong bread flour

350 mls warm filtered water

30 gms powdered milk

1½ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon demerara sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda or bicarbonate of soda

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon instant yeast

2 tablespoon of olive oil

for the glaze topping

38 gms toasted sesame seeds

250 mls tepid water

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 pinch salt

2 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Gently toast the sesame seeds....don't let them burn

First make the glaze topping:

Whisk the 2 tablespoons of tepid water with the olive oil and the flour while bringing it to a boil. It should have the consistency of cream. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  

The glaze should have the consistency of cream

Now move on....

1. Mix the flour, the powdered milk, the salt, the sugar and he bicarbonate of soda together. 

2. Add the olive oil, the vinegar and the warm water. Mix. Then finally, add the yeast and mix again. 

3. Bring the dough together and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is soft and silky. 

Ready for first proof

4. Cover in a lightly-oiled bowl and place somewhere warm for one hour or until it has doubled in size. 

Preheat the oven to 210⁰C

5. Gently tip the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. 

6. With oiled hands, shape each piece into a ring and make a reasonably-sized hole in the middle.  Alternatively shape into a teardrop or 'handbag' and make the hole in the appropriate place. 

7. Brush each ring with the glaze. If the glaze has 'set', loosen with a little water and whisk again. 

8. Sprinkle the sesame seeds onto the rings of the dough, Be generous with the seeds. 

9. Leave for 10 - 15 minutes

10. Bake at 200⁰C for 30 minutes until golden brown. 

Tip: if you can bake on a pizza or baking stone, so much the better. The dough should be slightly sticky and not dry. 

Cool on a rack

Happy baking....


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