You can not miss this Libyan specialty because it is so tasty. Kaak is a delicate bread that is famous in the Arabic world. It is also known as ‘Kahqa’ and is a must-have dish when traveling to Libya.
What is Kaak?
Kaak is a type of bread that is commonly baked in places such as Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria.
The bread is made into a large ring shape that resembles a large donut or bagel but with a bigger opening.
Since Roman times, Ka’ak has been an indispensable dish for the local citizens. At this time, the bread often has an incredibly crispy cover and soft interior.
In modern days, you will also find Ka’ak, which looks like a hardened biscuit.
The bread often has a ring shape and is usually sold by street vendors every day.
Libyans enjoy Ka’ak for breakfast as companions for other dishes like hummus and falafel. You can have it in both savory and sweet versions.
This recipe is very easy to make. To start, mix bread flour, salt, yeast, and powdered milk.
To this mixture add the olive oil and water, and mix using your hand to bring the dough together. You can also use a stand mixer utilizing the dough hook to mix and knead.
Knead for 10 minutes and if you notice the dough is too wet, add some flour and if too dry add a dash of water.
You want a dough that is just a tad sticky, and not too dry. After mixing, cover the dough and put, it in a warm place, and allow it to double in size.
Pour to a well-floured surface. Cut the dough into four even pieces.
With flour on the hole, hands make a hole in the middle of each piece of dough and shape each into a circle.
Slowly stretch and shape the kaak, going slowly so as not to tear the dough. Place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C).
For the egg wash, separate an egg, place the white into a small bowl, add the water, and whisk.
Using a pastry brush gently cover each piece of dough with the wash, once done rising. Generously sprinkle the sesame seeds onto the rings of dough.
Finally, bake for 30 minutes or until the kaak is a golden brown color. You are now ready to enjoy a most wonderful experience! Check the recipe card below for the full recipe!
- All purpose flour - 1 ¾ cup
- Whole wheat flour - ½ cup
- Active dry yeast - ½ TBSP
- Sugar - 2 TBSP
- Salt - 1 tsp
- Warm milk - ¾ cup
- Warm water - as needed to make a soft dough
- Olive oil - 1 TBSP
- Milk / Egg Wash - for brushing over the dough
- Sesame seeds - about 2 TBSP
- Making the Dough -
- Measure the milk and warm it just enough to proof the yeast. Add the sugar and the yeast and mix well. Cover the bowl and let it rise for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, the mixture should be frothy. If not, the yeast is not active and you will need to start with a new batch of yeast.
- I made my dough in the stand mixer. Add the flours, salt, oil and the yeast mixture to the bowl of the mixer. Using a dough hook, start mixing the flour until they come together. you might need a little more warm water to make a soft dough.
- The dough should be quite soft, but not sticky. Knead the dough for about 7 to 8 minutes and then place it in a greased bowl to rise. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until it doubles in volume. I love using the proof setting in my oven. The dough every time proofs perfectly in the setting and does not take more than an hour.
- Bring the dough out after the first rise and knead it gently for a minute. Form it into a ball and place it in a greased bowl for the second rise. It took me less than an hour for the second rise.
- Shaping an Baking -
- After the second rise, place the dough on a floured surface. Divide it into 4 equal sized ball.
- Prepare 2 baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Working with one piece of dough, flatten it and roll it into a tear drop shape. Keep the thickness of the dough to about ½ inch. My dough was rolled to about 6 inches long.
- Using a cookie cutter, cut out a ring from the narrow part of the rolled dough. Slightly pull the dough to elongate the shape and place it on the prepared baking sheet.
- Repeat the same with the rest of the dough, keeping 2 pieces per tray.
- Cover the trays and let the shaped bread proof for about 30 minutes or until slightly puffy.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425 F. I used steam to bake the bread. To create steam, I place a aluminum tray half filled with water in the bottom most shelf of the oven when it is preheating. The water also heats up and there is enough steam inside the oven when we are ready to place the bread inside.
- When the bread is done rising, brush it with egg wash or I just use milk to brush my breads. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- When the oven has preheated, bake one tray at a time for about 10 to 12 minutes, rotating once in between for even baking.
- The bread should appear golden brown when done.