This Sourdough Spelt Ka’ak Bread is my rendition of a Lebanese Bread which is shaped like a purse, sprinkled with Sesame Seeds and sold on the streets of Beirut.
Ka’ak is the bread of the month for the Bread Baking Babes. I decided to make my version using sourdough and a mixture of all-purpose and whole grain spelt. This version turned out crispy and light on the outside and soft and airy on the inside.
When you do a search for Ka’ak, you find lots of cool photos of the bread purses hanging on poles or dangling from hooks on street carts. After seeing how creative some of the other Babes were in displaying their Ka’ak, I decided to try hanging them from a wooden rolling pin.
Ka’ak is a fun bread to make and it’s delicious! The purse breads have pockets and are typically filled with za’atar or soft cheese. From what I understand, when you get Ka’ak from a street vendor, they will fill the bread on the spot and you take it with you to enjoy.
That sounded pretty tasty to me but I enjoyed them plain, with butter and as a dipping bread with olive oil, cracked black pepper and spices. They taste best warm from the oven, but they also freeze well and can be reheated in the oven.
The first time I made these breads, they turned out more like flatbreads with a little puffiness. I enjoyed that version as well. They were crispy like a cracker. The ones in the photo below were baked a couple of days after I made the dough. It had been resting in the refrigerator for 36-48 hours. So if you prefer a crispier version, you can let the dough ferment in the refrigerator longer.
As far as shaping Ka’ak, there are a couple of different methods. One way is to roll them out into rounds and use a biscuit cutter to cut out a circle near the top of the loaf to form the handle. Another way is to roll them into a log and taper the ends and bring them together to form the purse.
Some bakers prefer the second method because this alleviates the leftover dough from the cutouts. I decided to use the biscuit-cutter method and bake the small rounds along with the purses. I enjoyed the biscuits as snack so there was no waste.
- 120 grams sourdough starter, discarded is fine
- 200 grams buttermilk or regular milk, scalded then cooled
- 150 grams water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon instant dry yeast, optional
- 100 grams whole grain spelt flour
- 450 grams all purpose spelt flour, plus additional for rolling out the dough
- 1 egg for egg wash or just spritz with water
- 1-2 tbs sesame seeds per ka'ak
- You will also need lined baking sheets
- Scald the milk and let it cool down.
- Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, yeast) in a separate bowl.
- In a large bowl, add the starter, olive oil, cooled milk and water. Stir to incorporate.
- Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture and mix thoroughly using a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk.. Let the dough rest in the bowl for 10-15 minutes.
- Fold the dough, shape into a ball and place it back in the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it proof for 2 hours
- Fold after the first hour, then place back in the bowl and let it proof another hour
- Fold the dough again, place back in the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap
- Place in the refrigerator overnight for 8 - 12 hours..
- The next morning, remove the dough from the refrigerator and knead to remove excess gas
- Shape into a ball and place on the work surface to rest for 30 minutes to warm up
- Divide the dough into 8 balls ~ 130 grams each, or 6 larger breads, if you prefer
- Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a circle approx. 18cm / 7" diam., about 1.1/2 cm / ½ inch thick.
- Place the shaped breads on lined baking sheets, be careful not to stretch the dough.
- Use a cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out a circle near the top to form the "handle" and loosely cover to rise another 30 minutes to an hour.
- While the breads are proofing, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a baking stone or baking steel. I placed a baking steel on the middle rack. If you want crispier bread, place the baking stone on the bottom shelf.
- Egg wash or spritz the breads with water, sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Transfer the breads (on the parchment paper) onto the baking stone or steel then spritz them again with water.
- Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden and puffed. Check after 5 minutes, rotate the parchment for even baking and turn the oven down to 450 degrees F.
Here are some resources for inspiration:
- Taste of Beirut – information on the bread and the way it is baked and sold in Beirut
- The old Curiosity Shop – photos of street vendors selling Kaak
- Gin´s Kitchen – recipe for making Kaak
- Heghineh on youtube – a fun video on how to shape Kaak
Please visit all of the Bread Baking Babes and check out their versions of this month’s recipe:
- Blog from OUR Kitchen – Elizabeth
- Bake My Day– Karen
- A Messy Kitchen – Kelly
- Judy’s Gross Eats – Judy
- Karen’s Kitchen Stories – Karen
- Notitie Van Lien – Lien
- My Diverse Kitchen – Aparna
- Bread Experience – Cathy
- Feeding My Enthusiasms – Elle
- Thyme for Cooking – Katie
- My Kitchen in Half Cups – Tanna
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