Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cumin Ka'ak: A Crunchy Syrian Bread Stick

This is a crunchy little pretzel with a fantastically delicious flavor from the cumin and the anise. They make great bread sticks, or can be shaped into pretzels for snacks. Don't let their humble appearance fool you – their spices pack a deliciously unexpected flavor.

Cumin Ka'ak
Makes about 80 long breadsticks

1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 cups flour
1/2 cups margarine, melted
1 Tbsp anise seeds
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
1/4 tsp mahlep, optional

Egg Wash
1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds, optional
Plenty of salt

Mix water and yeast, and allow to sit for about 5 minutes, until it begins to froth.

Meanwhile, grind the anise, cumin, caraway, and mahlep in a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle until they are fragrant and broken, but not powdered.

Melt the margarine and stir in the flour. Mix in the yeast until a soft dough forms. Mix in the ground spices.

Grease a clean bowl, place the dough into it, turn the dough over once to grease both sides, and let rise, covered, in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Punch down the dough, and divide it into 40 small balls. Roll each into a rope about 10 inches long, and cut in half to 80 make 5-inch-long ropes. You can shape these however you like, then dip each into the beaten egg, roll it in the sesame seeds and salt, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until light brown.

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