Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lebanese Street Bread - Kaak Bi Semsum - Simit Bread

Lebanese Kaak Bi Semsem

Round Shape Kaak similar to Turkish Simit
As promised Here I am posting the recipe for the famous Lebanese/Middle Eastern Street Bread, which is sold by Street Vendors through out the region.
the secret to a good Kaak, is a good dough, I use a wild starter in my dough and let it rest then knead it once again, after it double in size for the second time, you divide the dough into ball size pieces and either you roll them as a round loaf circle, and then use a tea cup and or big cookie cutter and cut a circle leaving around 1 inch border for the handle or even you can roll the dough and twist it from both side , then bring the two ends together to make a wreath shape bread, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least couple of hours , the more the better for a perfect resutl.....

When I was living in Lebanon, we used to buy the Kaak from a small bakery at Ras AL Nabiaa , off Bechara El Khoury Area. I learned from the baker , that this bread needs to rest, the more time the better to enable the dough to rest, so it will puff when you bake it.
I remember when we were children; we used to eat the kaak with Pecon or La Vache Qui Rit (the laughing cow) cheese, or sprinkle inside the pocket Zaatar Mix (Oregano) or Sumac and Dakkah Mix for extra kick.

In Jordan, and Palestine area , they use fermented chickpeas – hummus, used as a leavening agent In East Jerusalem, it sometimes served alongside oven -baked eggs and falafel, Palestinian Arabs, from Hebron to Jenin consider Jerusalem ka'ak to be a unique specialty good, and those from the city or visiting there often buy several loaves to give to others outside the city as a gift.

A Simit (Turkish), koulouri (Greek , κουλούρι), đevrek (Serbian: ђеврек) or gevrek (Bulgarian геврек) is a circular bread with sesame seeds , very common in Turkey, as well as in Greece, Serbian, Bulgaria and other parts of the Balkans and Middle East. The characteristics of simit (size, crunchiness/chewiness, etc.) tend to vary by region. In the city of Izmir, Simit is known as "gevrek," (literally, 'crisp') although it is very similar to the Istanbul variety.
I am going to post the Lebanese and the Turkish Versions of the recipe and feel free to try and judge yourself. The Turkish bread is richer it contains eggs and fat, our version only has the milk powder and taste more bread can cakes...

Lebanese Street Kaak - Ingredients

2 package active dry yeast ( if I am using 120gm of wild yeast starter I use less yeast)
1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 1/2 - 7 cups all purpose flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour or bran flour to sprinkle over the dough
1 egg +1 teaspoon water
3/4 cup sesame seed


Dissolve yeast in warm large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour.   Leave for 10-15 minutes to rise and bubble .  
add the remaining flour knead until smooth and elastic about ten minutes, make sure the dough is not dry.  Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, around an hour and more. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched. Punch dough down to release the gas, gather again and let it rest for the second time till doubled. Be very patient and let the dough rest for couple of hours or even more... divide to 8 equal parts. Roll  over some wheat or bran flour to get more authentic , and texture shape as directed above, either the shape of a round handbag, (this is what we used to call them when we were children) or into long rope; moisten ends with water. Bring ends of rope together, and pinch to form rings about 6 inches in diameter. Beat egg and 2 teaspoons water with fork. Spread sesame seed on dinner plate. Brush each ring with egg mixture; dip into sesame seed. Place rings, sesame seed side up, on large greased cookie sheets. Cover loosely; let rise until double, from 1 hour up to 2 hours for the rings, for the rounds let them rest again, at least two hours more. Cover the baking tray with plastic to keep them moist.

Heat oven to 500F.  Flip the baking trays upside down and warm them in the oven as well, When the oven is ready, lower the heat to 450F . Sprinkle some wheat or bran on the trays and carefully move the kaak and Bake them for 20 to 25 mimutes or until golden brown and puffed.
A deep pan with water in it will also help in steaming the oven and creating a crunch texture for the kaak and give a nice golden color

suggestion on serving the kaak: open the pocket from the back and sprinkle oregano mix (zaatar) or Sumac, or mix sumac and Dakkah . Also good with Halloumi Cheese, or Cream Cheese

go ahead give it a try... its very good!!

Lebanese Street Vendor selling Kaak

Ingredients for Turkish Simit:

500g flour
150g melted butter
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 beaten egg
50ml olive oil
50ml water
50ml milk
1/2 tsp salt
Additional beaten egg for brushing
the topsSesame seeds


Pour the flour into a suitably sized mixing bowl and stir in the salt and baking powder. Form a well in the middle of the dry mix and pour in the olive oil, melted butter, water, milk and the well beaten egg. Stir from outside in, folding the flour mixture into the liquids; keep stirring and folding until you have consistent dough. Portions of the dough can then be pinched off and rolled into 150mm-200mm long 'sausages' which can be twisted and looped or just formed into simple rings by joining together the two ends. Arrange on a baking tray with sufficient space between each. Brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cooking time is approximately 30 minutes at 400 deg F. Simit should be baked until they are browned and crispyServing Simit make an ideal breakfast snack and are popular served with jam, honey, yoghurt and cheese and accompanied by a cup of strong coffee or tea, sweetened to taste.

Armenian Simit / Izmir SimitIngredients
1 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp baking powder
3 beaten eggs
5 cups sifted flour
1 beaten egg for brushing the tops
sesame seeds
Thoroughly beat the eggs and to them add the sugar, milk and gently melted butter. Carefully add and fold in the flour and baking powder and work into lightly kneaded dough. Small balls of dough can be taken and rolled into 200mm long 'sausage' shaped strips. These can then be folded into three and squeezed together. Lightly brush the tops with whisked egg and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Place on a baking tray in a moderate heat (350-400 deg F) oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes, until the simit have turned a golden brown

Turkish Simit

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Week of Baking in Photos - Part III

I didn't have any Matcha powder (green Tea), I used one envelope of good quality green tea.
I divided the mix intro four flavours, I wanted to experiment. I added 1 1/2 tbsp of cocoa powder to get the chocolate flavours, and I baked it in the same temperature at 325F for 18minutes... the chocolate cookies cracked. Later I discovered that chocolate macaroons are different and needs different recipe and oven temp.... Live and learn

For the original recipe i sprinkled some cracked caramel on top and in the frosting

Oh I forgot to mention that I used a spoon to mold my macaroons, I was lazy to fill three pastry bags

For the pink macaroons I tried to add a design on top with different color.
the frosting was white chocolate and rasberry

I always wanted to try making macaroons. but didn't find the time to do it, or at the last minute the recipe will be changed to something else...

Until one day I decided this is the day. It was stormy outside and we did get snow, yes, it snowed in April, I had my bulbs out and the crocus were ready to open. when the white snow covered them again.... I was so mad, I was so looking forward to Spring and to see my flowers and the green around me... enough white powder.... I had more than two meters of snow on my lawn . The closer to go by the Lake the snow still hard there , the lakes are still frozen and you can walk on the lake.

I always admired Helene's (Tartelette) Macaroons. When I spotted her step by step recipe at the Dessert Magazine, I decided to try it see the result.... Here are some step by step photos.
It's snowing outside, by the early evening everything was covered with 10 cms of snow

A week of Baking in Photos - Day II

Ingredients for Apple Strudels:

7- 8 sheets of phyllo
1/4 cup of melted butter
2 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
2 pears, peeled and chopped
cup of raisin soaked in rum
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of bread crumbs

A Week of Baking in Photos - Day I

Lebanese Street Sesame Bread - Kaak Bi Semsum
the dough can be shaped into a wreath or a round and then keep to rest in a warm place for
at least 5-8 hours.
The secret to this bread , is resting the dough.
Mall Pretzels

The best Mall Pretzels you ever ate

Soft Pretzels out the oven