Friday, January 8, 2010


No, that's not a bad word, it's my newest experiment from Baking with Julia.  It's an Eastern Mediterranean treat which you will probably call "mini-bagels" if you make them and give them to your kids.  And you want to make them!  They are delicious...and SO cute.

2 T sugar
2 t dry yeast
1/4 c very warm water
Combine these ingredients in a small bowl and whisk.  Let stand 4-5 minutes.

1 3/4 c warm water
3 c flour
Combine these in a bowl and stir well.  Add the yeast and again, stir well, for about a minute (whether by hand or by mixer).  Let this sponge sit for about 10 minutes.

1 1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground mahleb (optional).

Okay, about mahleb.  It is the ground kernels of a type of black cherry found in the Mediterranean region.  I swear I am not making this up.  I couldn't find it locally, so I went to the trusty ol' internet and of course you can get it from lots of places.  I ended up going with The World Spice Merchants (, and I figured that as long as I was paying all that money for postage, I might as well see what else was available...big mistake!  This very cool website has all kinds of spices and seasonings and it includes recipes for each one, in case you don't know what to do with it.  I ended up getting some vanilla beans and tomato powder (right) and Moroccan Spice Mixture (left).

ut I digress.
After adding the salt and mahleb, stir in more flour (probably up to another cup or two) till the dough can be kneaded, and then do so for about 8-10 minutes.  You can do this by hand or using a mixer with a dough hook.  For small batches of bread such as this, I use my treasured Kitchenaid Mixer.

Let dough rise for about 1 1/2-2 hours, till doubled in bulk.

Turn out onto floured counter and knead for a minute or so.  Then cut it into 32 pieces.  I use this handy-dandy tool, which I have only owned for about a year and I can't BELIEVE I baked bread for all those years without it.  Not only is it great for cutting dough, you can also use the inch measures on it for the next step, and when you're all done you can use it to scrape up the dough that is stuck to your counter.  You NEED this tool.

Roll each piece into a piece 6" or 7" long and then form a circle, pinching the ends together.  Place on a greased baking sheet.  Let rise for about 30 minutes. 
This is my nicest baking sheet.  I had the rest of my ka'kat on icky-looking sheets so I didn't photograph them.

Heat oven to 400.

Brush the ka'kat with an egg wash (1 egg, beaten with about 1 T of water) and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake for about 20 minutes, watching them to make sure they don't get too crispy.  I think I baked mine a bit less, maybe 15-16 minutes.  I also switched the baking sheets halfway through (top rack to bottom and vice versa).
Cool on racks.
These can be frozen and crisped in a hot oven before serving, if desired.

In summary:

2 T sugar
2 t yeast
1/4 c very warm water
1 3/4  c warm water
4-5 c flour
1 1/2 t salt
1/4 t mahleb (optional)

1 egg
1 T water
sesame seeds

Proof yeast, sugar and 1/4 c water.  Combine rest of water with 3 c flour and stir well.  Add yeast mixture.  Let sit 10 minutes.

Add salt, mahleb and enough flour to make a stiff dough.  Knead for 8-10 minutes and let rise till doubled.
Divide into 32 pieces; roll each into a rope 6-7" long.  Form a circle and pinch ends together.  Place on greased baking sheet and let rise 30 minutes.  Brush with egg wash  and sprinkle on sesame seeds.  Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.  Cool on rack.

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