Jun 16, 2017

Kaak (Beirut Street Bread)

Kaak is a Lebanese street bread, shaped like a purse, coated in sesame seeds, and sold from carts by street vendors. 


Kaak is a Lebanese street bread, shaped like a purse, coated in sesame seeds, and sold from carts by street vendors.

When in Beirut, if you purchase Kaak (street bread, or cart bread), you can ask the vendor to create a pocket in the "purse" and then sprinkle it with za'atar, sumak, or fill it with Halloumi or Cream Cheese. This is evidently the traditional way to eat this bread.

Here is a photo from my friend Arlette's wonderful food blog, Phoenician Gourmet, of a Lebanese street vendor, selling Kaak.

Kaak is a Lebanese street bread, shaped like a purse, coated in sesame seeds, and sold from carts by street vendors.
Photo courtesy of Phoenician Gourmet

I also loved reading about Kaak from A Taste of Beirut. I got on this obsession after Karen of Bake My Day introduced the Bread Baking Babes to this bread.

Kaak is a Lebanese street bread, shaped like a purse, coated in sesame seeds, and sold from carts by street vendors.

This recipe for Kaak creates an incredibly fluffy and light loaf. Karen warned the Babes that the dough is quite sticky, and recommended that we hold back on some of the water. I decided to add all of the water anyway, and was super happy with the results. In fact, it was r-e-a-l-l-y hard not to eat an entire loaf in one sitting. 

While eating it with butter is probably not the Lebanese tradition, I highly recommend it, especially when the bread is fresh and warm. 

There are two recommended methods for shaping this bread. You can either shape the dough into a disk and use a teacup or large cookie cutter to cut a hole to create the purse handle, or you can roll the dough out into a log and wrap the thinner ends around to form the purse handle. I shaped the dough like baguettes, thinned out the ends, and then formed the purse handle by joining the ends together.

Kaak is a Lebanese street bread, shaped like a purse, coated in sesame seeds, and sold from carts by street vendors.

This bread is soft, light, and and fluffy, and incredibly flavorful. While this recipe requires only one rise, to develop even more flavor, you can add a second rise before shaping the dough.

Karen's recipe calls for buttermilk or regular milk. I decided to use buttermilk powder. If you use milk or buttermilk powder, just whisk it into the dry ingredients, and then add the equivalent amount of water into the wet ingredients.

Bottom line? This bread is out of this world. It's especially incredible the day that it's made. It also freezes well, and makes nice sandwiches the next day.

After the recipe, be sure to check out the rest of the Bread Baking Babes' take on this bread.

Kaak Bread Recipe

Kaak Bread Recipe

Ingredients

  • 135 grams (about 1 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 490 grams (about 3 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 235 grams (about 1 cup) scalded and cooled milk or buttermilk (see note above)
  • 245 grams (about 1 cup) water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar
  • About 2 to 3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, and instant yeast.
  2. Add the milk, water, and olive oil, and mix with the dough hook until you have a smooth dough, about 7 to 10 minutes. This is a sticky dough, so if you decide to knead by hand, I recommend stretching and folding it in a large bowl for several minutes.
  3. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour. At this point, you can deflate the dough and let it rise a second time, or proceed to shape the dough.
  4. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F., and place a steam pan on the lowest rack of the oven (or use your favorite method for setting up your oven for steam). Whisk together the egg, water, pinch of salt, and pinch of sugar. Set it aside. 
  5. Scrape the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into four equal pieces.
  6. Form one piece of dough into a ball by folding the dough over itself. With floured hands, gently pat the dough into a rectangle, about the size of a business letter sized envelope. Fold the top and bottom of the longer sides toward the middle, and then pinch the dough together to form a log. Roll the dough over so that the seam side is on the bottom.
  7. With floured hands, roll the ends of the dough back and forth until they are skinnier than the middle. Pick up the log and place it on the parchment lined baking sheet, and curve the ends around and pinch them together to form a "purse." Pat the thicker part of the dough to flatten it to about 3/4 inch thick. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Repeat with the other 3 pieces of dough. There should be two "purses" per half sheet pan.
  8. Let the loaves rise until puffy, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  9. When ready to bake, brush the loaves with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Add one cup of boiling water to the steam pan just before baking the bread.
  10. Bake the loaves, one pan at a time, for 15 to 18 minutes, until the bread is golden, and reaches an internal temperature of about 190 to 200 degrees F. When ready to bake the second pan, add more boiling water to the steam pan.
  11. Cool the loaves on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. It's okay to eat this bread even if it's still warm, so dig in!
Yield: 4 loaves



The Bread Baking Babes get together once a month to bake a special bread chosen by one of us. This month, the bread is Kaak, chose by Karen of Bake My Day. Be sure to check out the rest of the Babes' versions of the recipe, because there is no way we know how to obediently follow instructions!
Kaak is a Lebanese street bread, shaped like a purse, coated in sesame seeds, and sold from carts by street vendors.

22 comments:

  1. Love the color, the shape, the crumb... They're just beautiful!

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  2. What a gorgeous colour you achieved! And such loft. As Kelly said already, they're just beautiful!

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth. They had a lot of oven spring!

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  3. za'tar and halloumi cheese, you hit two winners in my book, and sumac is a heavy contender too

    wonderful bake, Karen, as usual!

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    1. Thanks Sally! Butter was pretty good too =)

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  4. Beautiful! Mine didn't get as puffy, but they were still delicious.

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    1. Isn't amazing how delicious these were?

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  5. The colour on your Kaak is just perfect, and that crumb is so good. We really loved them, I think it's a winner everywhere.

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  6. Your Kaak look beautiful! The color and texture look great and I like that you shaped them into a baguette first! I'll have to try that shaping method next time. I'm with Lien, these are a winner for sure.

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  7. I like that you say one can eat it still warm.... I always do anyway ;-) Very pretty purses!

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    1. Thanks Katie. At least we know we can eat it while it is still warm without trying to hide the evidence.

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  8. These look fantastic and we bet they taste even better!:) The texture reminds us of the traditional Thessaloniki koulouri we got here, sold by street vendors and bakeries in all major cities. Would LOVE to try this one with fresh cream cheese (even homemade paneer - yeah, we got into this Indian treat as well lol).
    Thanx for the awesome recipe dear Karen!
    xoxoxo

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    1. I bet there are versions of this bread throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. This has been such a fun surprise. It's amazing how flour, salt, water, and yeast can be made into so many different treats.

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  9. Oh my!! Look at that crumb! You've nailed it! Love the way your bread looks, did a great job!

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    1. Thanks Karen! Great choice this month.

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  10. High fashion handbag indeed! Gorgeous crumb, delicious color!
    Warm bread ... butter, isn't that the definition of heaven?

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    1. Thanks Tanna! Sounds like it to me =)

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  11. Love your Kaak, great photos.

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    1. Thanks Arlette!!! Thanks for your help too.

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I love comments!