It’s time for Eat the World and this month we’re heading to Lebanon. And you’ve likely noticed that I made bread…again.
I never set out to make bread from the monthly countries, but when I start researching, I find lists of “must try” lists featuring food from each country and there is almost always a bread showcased. This month, I had a couple recipes I was going to pursue further, when along came ka’ak with its unique shape and I knew I just had to try it.
As a bread baker, I am always amazed at the small variations different cultures that make on bread that make such a huge difference.
In the case of ka’ak it is a slightly sweet street bread. Its unique shape (which sometimes gets referred to as purse bread) owes to that street vendors add the hole so the bread can hang on a peg to cool before it is sold.
Now here’s the surprising part. All the recipes I found (written by Lebanese authors) have the baker use a cookie cutter to make the hole, and none of them addressed what to do with the scraps (bake a small bread? Press them together to make another purse bread? Toss?) I decided to shape the dough my own way in this recipe by gently tearing the hole, and eliminating the question of what to do with the scraps. With this method, the breads take on a more organic and less consistent appearance, but I like it.
Check out all the wonderful Lebanese dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Find out how to join Eat the World here and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
Ka’ak (Lebanese Purse Bread)
Adapted from Hadia's Lebanese Cuisine
1 ¼ cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
3-3 ¼ cups all purpose flour
½ cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoons flour
Pinch of salt
Place the water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir and set aside for 5 minutes or until foamy. Add the salt and half the flour and stir until combined.
Switch to the dough hook. Add the remaining flour slowly and knead until a smooth dough forms.
Turn out the dough and place into a greased bowl. Set aside to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Place the water into a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, olive oil, and salt. Bring to a simmer. Cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
Punch down the dough and split into 5 equal pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-inch round. Allow the dough circles to rest for a minute or two. Then, pick them up and gently tear a hole near the top of each dough round, working it to a diameter of about 3-inches. Place the dough rounds on a pizza stone to rest.
Once all the ka’ak are shaped, brush them with glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Allow the dough to rest for about 15 minutes.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden-brown.
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France: Fougasse (Provencal Flatbread)
Argentina: Chimichurri Sauce
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India: Spiced Golden Milk
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Israel: Chicken Albondigas (Chicken Meatballs)
Finland: Sima (Lemonade)
Puerto Rico: Arroz con Tocino (Rice with Bacon)
Egypt: Ghorayebah Cookies
Ukraine: Scuffles (Rohalyky) Cinnamon Crescent Rolls
Portugal: Bitoque (Steak & Eggs)
Germany (Christmas Special): Lebkuchenherzen (German "Gingerbread" Cookies)
Trinidad & Tobago: Trini Macaroni Pie
Iraq: T'bit (Slow Cooked Chicken & Brown Rice)
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Jamaica: Chicken & Pumpkin Soup
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Sudan: Red Lentil Soup (Sudanese Addas)
Luxembourg: Bouchée à la Reine (Vol-au-Vent)
Uruguay: Pasta Caruso