Palestinian easter Tradition: Bread rings with sesame seeds and mahlab (ka’ak)

Bread rings with sesame seeds and mahlab (ka’ak)INGREDIENTS:3 1/3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup of milk

1/2 cup of water

2 teaspoons of yeast

2 teaspoons of sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of mahlab (optional) Note below on substitutes


Place the flour and salt and mahlab in a mixing bowl. Combine the dry ingredients for a few seconds.
Proof the yeast with 1/2 cup of warm water and the sugar for a few minutes.
Add the oil to the flour mixture and combine well until the flour particles are moistened.
Add the yeast mixture, add the warm milk, mix with the dough hook or by hand until you get a firm ball.
Let it rest covered for 15 minutes. Knead again 2 minutes then let it rise in a bowl that has been covered with a thin film of oil; cover the dough with a film of oil as well. Set it in a warm place to rise for at least one hour, until doubled in size.
Remove the dough from the bowl, fold it like an envelope and let it rise again, covering it with a towel.
When the dough has doubled in volume, form into 20 balls. Cover with a damp towel and let them rise.
Form each ball into a long rope. Cut into smaller ropes and press the ends to form a ring. Brush some egg on each ring and sprinkle sesame seeds on the rings. Cover with a wet (but squeezed dry) towel and let them rest and rise for 45 minutes.
Bake in a 375F oven for about 15 minutes till golden. Then reduce the oven to 175F and let them dry out for another 30 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped with a knife.

You can order mahlab online through a number of purveyors, including penzey’s.

Mahlab can be found in Greek stores. You can substitute one of these: ground fennel seeds, ground cardamom, or ground Chinese almonds. OR, grind one 2-inch cinnamon stick with three cloves and one bay leaf .

 — at Palestine .

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