Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ka'ake or Roscas (Syrian-Style Cracker Rings)

I was on a challenge to use unusual spices and flavorings from my own kitchen. Today's recipe comes from an interest in learning more about the Turkish spice, mahlab. These were very nice the day of, but were nicer to have around the house later, as snacks. Very messy, though, since the sesame seeds can fly everywhere.

Plus, I get to use the word "slurry" in a recipe.

The seed of a particular wild cherry, mahlab gives a slight tanginess to whatever it is used in.


1 tsp yeast
2 c flour
2/3 c warm water
1 tsp anise seed
1 tsp mahlab
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 egg, for glazing
sesame seeds, for coating

In bowl of a mixer, combine yeast and 2/3 c flour. Whisk in warm water until smooth. Let slurry stand 10-20 minutes, until foamy.

While slurry is fermenting, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add anise and mahlab and toast until lightly browned, crackling, and fragrant.

Pour the spices into a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind.

Whisk the ground spices, oil and salt into slurry. Stir in remaining 1 1/3 c flour. When the mixture is a shaggy ball, scrape out of the bowql and knead until very smooth, about 5 minutes.The dough should be smooth, soft and easy to work with -- not at all sticky.

Place dough in a warmed bowl. Cover and let rest until doubled, about 2 hours. (Or, fridge overnight.)

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Lightly flour a work surface. Beat egg in one bowl, and place sesame seeds in another bowl.

Roll dough into a long strand and cut into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a tihck strand about 10" long.

Pull the ends around to form a ring and pinch to seal. Dip top sof the shaped rings in the egg and then in the sesame seeds. Arrange, seed-side up, on baking sheets, leaving a little room in between to allow for expansion.

Let rings rise for about 1 hour, until tripled, or they do not bounce back when you poke them.

Preheat oven to 325. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until well browned and hard and dry.After about the first 20 minutes, rotate pans. When rings are done, turn off the oven and let them cool in the turned-off oven to fully dry them.

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