Ka’ek Al-Quds. Stop any Palestinian who has stepped foot in the beautiful city of Jerusalem and ask them to list off a few things that they remember the most about the city. Of course, most will begin with Al-Aqsa (Dome of the Rock), but I guarantee that Ka’ek is going to be on their list.
As you walk through the old city, you’ll see carts with stacks upon stacks of beautiful golden ka’ek. The smell and sight alone will make you stop, but of course, the young gentlemen call out their prices and rave about how fresh and perfect their Ka’ek is. Before you know it, you’re stuffing your face with fresh-baked goodness.
It’s been almost a decade since I’ve seen Al-Quds. But I have continued to crave Ka’ek. For that reason, I decided to bake it right here at home.
Before you bake this bread, I am going to warn you…nothing will ever beat the Ka’ek that you will eat in Jerusalem. BUT…and this is a big BUT…this recipe is pretty darn close! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Makes 12-15 small to medium-sized ka’ek
6 cups bread flour
3 teaspoons salt
3 warm water
6 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup raw sesame seeds sprinkled with a bit of water so that they stick to the dough
Step 1: In a bowl, combine the sugar, yeast, and the warm water. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes or until it becomes frothy. If it does not become frothy, this means that the yeast is dead.
Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Create a hole in the middle of the flour where you will then begin to pour the yeast, sugar, and water mixture and the vegetable oil. Once you’ve got the dough shaped into a ball, sprinkle a little bit of vegetable oil on your hands and brush the edges and bottom of the bowl that your dough will be rising in.
Step 3: Cover the bowl and wrap it up into a nice warm blanket or towel. Place it in a dry and warm area. Allow the dough to rise for about 45 minutes.
Step 4: Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into equal pieces. Knead each piece and roll into a ball. (I made each of mine around a tennis or baseball size.) Place each ball of dough into a tray lined with parchment paper and cover with saran wrap. Allow the dough to rise again for 45-60 minutes.
While you wait, if you want to check out how the pros in Jerusalem do it, check out this video : Fast forward to 10:30. 🙂
Step 5: Preheat oven to 400°F.
Step 6: Pour 1 cup of sesame seeds into a large, clean tray. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of water onto the sesame seeds so that they will be damp. This will help them stick to your dough later.
Step 7: Grab each ball of dough and poke a hole into a the center and carefully begin to stretch out the dough until you’ve created an “O”. Then transfer your dough to the sesame seed tray and coat the entire “O” with sesame seeds. If you need additional sesame seeds, go ahead and add more as you go along.
Step 8: Place Ka’ek on lined baking tray and cover with a layer of saran wrap. Allow the Ka’ek to sit for about 15-20 minutes before placing it in the oven. (Sorry, I know it’s a lot of resting and rising…but it’s going to be worth it!)
Step 9: Bake for about 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Keep an eye out for the sesame seeds. If you burn the sesame seeds, they will taste bitter!