Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lebanese Street Bread - Kaak Bi Semsum - Simit Bread

Lebanese Kaak Bi Semsem

Round Shape Kaak similar to Turkish Simit
As promised Here I am posting the recipe for the famous Lebanese/Middle Eastern Street Bread, which is sold by Street Vendors through out the region.
the secret to a good Kaak, is a good dough, I use a wild starter in my dough and let it rest then knead it once again, after it double in size for the second time, you divide the dough into ball size pieces and either you roll them as a round loaf circle, and then use a tea cup and or big cookie cutter and cut a circle leaving around 1 inch border for the handle or even you can roll the dough and twist it from both side , then bring the two ends together to make a wreath shape bread, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least couple of hours , the more the better for a perfect resutl.....

When I was living in Lebanon, we used to buy the Kaak from a small bakery at Ras AL Nabiaa , off Bechara El Khoury Area. I learned from the baker , that this bread needs to rest, the more time the better to enable the dough to rest, so it will puff when you bake it.
I remember when we were children; we used to eat the kaak with Pecon or La Vache Qui Rit (the laughing cow) cheese, or sprinkle inside the pocket Zaatar Mix (Oregano) or Sumac and Dakkah Mix for extra kick.

In Jordan, and Palestine area , they use fermented chickpeas – hummus, used as a leavening agent In East Jerusalem, it sometimes served alongside oven -baked eggs and falafel, Palestinian Arabs, from Hebron to Jenin consider Jerusalem ka'ak to be a unique specialty good, and those from the city or visiting there often buy several loaves to give to others outside the city as a gift.

A Simit (Turkish), koulouri (Greek , κουλούρι), đevrek (Serbian: ђеврек) or gevrek (Bulgarian геврек) is a circular bread with sesame seeds , very common in Turkey, as well as in Greece, Serbian, Bulgaria and other parts of the Balkans and Middle East. The characteristics of simit (size, crunchiness/chewiness, etc.) tend to vary by region. In the city of Izmir, Simit is known as "gevrek," (literally, 'crisp') although it is very similar to the Istanbul variety.
I am going to post the Lebanese and the Turkish Versions of the recipe and feel free to try and judge yourself. The Turkish bread is richer it contains eggs and fat, our version only has the milk powder and taste more bread can cakes...

Lebanese Street Kaak - Ingredients

2 package active dry yeast ( if I am using 120gm of wild yeast starter I use less yeast)
1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 1/2 - 7 cups all purpose flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour or bran flour to sprinkle over the dough
1 egg +1 teaspoon water
3/4 cup sesame seed


Dissolve yeast in warm large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour.   Leave for 10-15 minutes to rise and bubble .  
add the remaining flour knead until smooth and elastic about ten minutes, make sure the dough is not dry.  Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, around an hour and more. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched. Punch dough down to release the gas, gather again and let it rest for the second time till doubled. Be very patient and let the dough rest for couple of hours or even more... divide to 8 equal parts. Roll  over some wheat or bran flour to get more authentic , and texture shape as directed above, either the shape of a round handbag, (this is what we used to call them when we were children) or into long rope; moisten ends with water. Bring ends of rope together, and pinch to form rings about 6 inches in diameter. Beat egg and 2 teaspoons water with fork. Spread sesame seed on dinner plate. Brush each ring with egg mixture; dip into sesame seed. Place rings, sesame seed side up, on large greased cookie sheets. Cover loosely; let rise until double, from 1 hour up to 2 hours for the rings, for the rounds let them rest again, at least two hours more. Cover the baking tray with plastic to keep them moist.

Heat oven to 500F.  Flip the baking trays upside down and warm them in the oven as well, When the oven is ready, lower the heat to 450F . Sprinkle some wheat or bran on the trays and carefully move the kaak and Bake them for 20 to 25 mimutes or until golden brown and puffed.
A deep pan with water in it will also help in steaming the oven and creating a crunch texture for the kaak and give a nice golden color

suggestion on serving the kaak: open the pocket from the back and sprinkle oregano mix (zaatar) or Sumac, or mix sumac and Dakkah . Also good with Halloumi Cheese, or Cream Cheese

go ahead give it a try... its very good!!

Lebanese Street Vendor selling Kaak

Ingredients for Turkish Simit:

500g flour
150g melted butter
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 beaten egg
50ml olive oil
50ml water
50ml milk
1/2 tsp salt
Additional beaten egg for brushing
the topsSesame seeds


Pour the flour into a suitably sized mixing bowl and stir in the salt and baking powder. Form a well in the middle of the dry mix and pour in the olive oil, melted butter, water, milk and the well beaten egg. Stir from outside in, folding the flour mixture into the liquids; keep stirring and folding until you have consistent dough. Portions of the dough can then be pinched off and rolled into 150mm-200mm long 'sausages' which can be twisted and looped or just formed into simple rings by joining together the two ends. Arrange on a baking tray with sufficient space between each. Brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cooking time is approximately 30 minutes at 400 deg F. Simit should be baked until they are browned and crispyServing Simit make an ideal breakfast snack and are popular served with jam, honey, yoghurt and cheese and accompanied by a cup of strong coffee or tea, sweetened to taste.

Armenian Simit / Izmir SimitIngredients
1 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp baking powder
3 beaten eggs
5 cups sifted flour
1 beaten egg for brushing the tops
sesame seeds
Thoroughly beat the eggs and to them add the sugar, milk and gently melted butter. Carefully add and fold in the flour and baking powder and work into lightly kneaded dough. Small balls of dough can be taken and rolled into 200mm long 'sausage' shaped strips. These can then be folded into three and squeezed together. Lightly brush the tops with whisked egg and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Place on a baking tray in a moderate heat (350-400 deg F) oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes, until the simit have turned a golden brown

Turkish Simit


Summer said...

Dear Arlette, thank you so much for posting this nice it has no secret to it, just let it rest and you get good results :)
i will make it one day, when i have some time and for sure i will let you know how it turns out. thanks again! you are very kind :)

Arlette said...

Hello Summer
you are welcome any time, let me know if you need any more information...
you can email me and you have my phone number you can call me and I will do my best to help!!!

ps: It will good if we make small kaak for the Kinafeh...

amal said...

hi Arlette
Thank you for the recipe... i'll try it soon..humm!!
Take care

MAG said...

Marhaba Arlette :) I loveeeee Kaak!!! Thank you so much for the recipe because I didn't have it, and thank you for the other versions too :)

Elra said...

OMG Arlette,
I've been meaning to make this Lebanese Street Kaak for quite sometimes.
Thanks for sharing your recipe.

Arlette said...

Hello Ladies,

Glad that my recipe came on time, for all of you
to try it, they are so good, and its also one of my favourite snak

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Arlette, I miss simit so much. What you made looks really good. I only attempted to make simit once with no success. I will however try it again sometime. Thanks for sharing!

Arlette said...

Hello Ladies

Thanks so much for your sweet and lovely comments. Let me know how the Kaak turned out when you make them. All the best

sangeeta said...

Hi Arlette.....these are gorgeous breads and look absolutely yummy.....i like traditional recipes and definitely give it a try.......

Edma said...

Hi Arlette,
Thank you for the lebanese street bread recipe Kaak bi soumsum I tried the recipe but they didnt puff maybe because I let the dough rest once not twice only one time 45 min and then I shaped them and let them rest one hour so please let me know why they didnt puff the taste is good just the shape is not like the picture.
Thank you sgain

Arlette said...

Hello Edma,

Sorry for my late reply.. I need to ask you first how old is your yeast...Second I use sourdough starter in my mix, how thin did you roll your dough, it should be around 3/4 cm thick, and the more you rest the dough the better, don't worry about the time, just cover your dough with plastic wrap and let it rest.
This is the advise I got from the Lebanese Bakery for the Kaak, the more they rest the better result you got.... Try it again and let me know... and always check the validity of your yeast to make sure its fresh and active. and if you have a sponge (leftover dough) add it to your dough mix , making sure its out of the fridge 2 hours before using.

Cal said...

Thank you for the recipes. I used to buy this bread from a Palestinian guy in San Francisco. His store is no longer there and I have not been able to find anything that comes close. I had to lock it in the trunk of my car or it would all be eaten(by me) by the time I got home. I will try your recipes soon.

Anonymous said...

Hello, i just attempted this recipe. I miss kaak very much i can't seem to get it to puff up on the final rising. i only made a half batch, hope that doesn't affect anything. i kneaded it for 7 minutes, let it rise for 50 min. punched it, kneaded it for 7 more min and let it rise for 2 hours. it was overflowing the bowl lol. i tore it into 4 equal part (remember half batch) and rolled them out to form large bags. this rolling was rather vigorous to stretch them out. i then covered them with plastic wrap and let them sit for 2 more hours. they only rose about a centimeter and came out of the oven very flat and hard. any help would be great. i know it's an old post. thanks.

Tina said...

I made this yesterday and it tastes great. I did let the dough rest,rolled it out,rest etc. When rolling out you need to use Whole Wheat Flour to make it more authentic. We had it with our dinner last night (Zaatar) from Lebanon and La Vache qui rit cheese.
Today I pulled out my 2 Kaak that I froze from Lebanon and it had a lot more Sesame Seeds than I put on mine.Tonight we are having Knafi. Thank You for the Recipe my Hubby didn't think I could make it..:)

Soma said...

This bread looks fascinating. I love the shape and the way they are hung on the street side cart.

I am probably going to give this try today.. will let you know. Would you tell me if they stay puffed like it shows or do they deflate later like a lavash?

Soma said...

I just completed baking six of them... Yaay and they puffed. had it with olive oil sumac. Thanks for the awesome recipe. I will link to you when I post it in my blog and will let you know.

ninara said...

thanks for the recepie can u tell me please u said 2 packet active dry yeast, can u tell me how many small spoons ?(2 package active dry yeast ( if I am using 120gm of wild yeast starter I use less yeast)
whats the meaning of wild yeast starter please can u explain that whats the ingridients ? and hpw many spoons of yeast u use. thank u

arfi binsted said...

Mine is puff! Although they aren't as perfect as those on your photos, but I'm very happy. I'm going to blog about it and use your link if you don't mind, to credit your post.

Thanks so much for the recipe.


Celestial said...

Wow, I have been looking for a recipe for these for so long! Can't wait to try these! Thank you!!!

Sajina Sunil said...

This is an awesome recepie . Thanks for the recepie. But since I have not tasted the original kaak ,I am curious to know whether they are llike buns and not like the kubuz kind hollow in the Middle .I was imagining something like thst before baking.i and I am also from northern Ontario. :)

Arlette said...

Hello Sajina

In what part of Northern Ontario you live. these are like khubez and not buns, they will be hollow and a bit crunchy.
do use wheat flour or bran flour for authentic look and taste and helps when moving the bread .