They swing from rods in the rolling street carts, looking like purses except they’re coated with sesame seeds. Take a closer look and you see that they are ka’ak, a Middle Eastern flatbread, popular in Lebanon, often eaten as breakfast or for a snack. From the carts, you can get ka’ak filled with za’atar or smeared with cheese or hummus.
Middle Eastern cuisine boasts an enormous variety of flatbreads – baked, filled, soft, stove top, seeded or crisp. This version of ka’ak starts out with a flat dough that is baked in a hot oven until the exteriors are crisp and puff up. The insides are soft and there’s plenty of space to add stuffing.
Make them as large as you like. Serve them warm or at room temperature, biting into the bread or tearing off pieces. They’d also look delicious with a scatter of black sesame seeds or just plain. They’re easy to make, fun to eat (like cracker bread), and a delicious accompaniment with friends and beer.
Warm ka’ak can be eaten with hummus, za’atar or cream cheese smeared inside. Cut a slit on the back side of the bread to fill.
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for flouring surface
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) rapid rise yeast
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 egg
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- Mix dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, and yeast. Heat milk to 90-100° F and add to dry mixture. With the paddle attachment, mix ingredients until smooth. Switch to the kneading hook and knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and place dough in bowl, covering all surfaces. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and proof until doubled.
- Roll out ka’ak: divide dough into 8 balls and rest dough balls, covered with a clean towel, for 10 minutes. Lightly flour both the rolling surface and rolling pin and roll each ball into a 7″ disk. Using a small glass with an opening of about 2″, cut out a small circle out of the dough near an edge (see photos of finished bread).
- Place ka’ak on a large baking sheets 2-3″ apart; each sheet may fit only 2-3 discs. When all of the ka’ak have been placed on the baking sheets, beat egg together with 1 tablespoon water and brush the breads with egg wash using a brush. Sprinkle tops generously with sesame seeds.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap for 30-60 minutes until ka’ak looks a little puffy. Preheat oven to 400º F.
- Bake bread at 400º F: bake until light brown and puffy, about 10-12 minutes. Rotate sheets top to bottom and front to back if baking more than one sheet at a time.
Makes 8 flatbreads. Store in an airtight container for a couple of days.