In Jerusalem, street corners are bustling with street sellers who have wooden carts piled high with Ka’ak. You can stop by or call out of your car for the Ka’ak, baked eggs, falafel and tiny parcels made of old Arabic newspapers willed with salt or za’atar. they call out that they have fresh ka’ak and are usually sold out before the morning is done. It makes a pretty perfect breakfast. In Palestine, people get to work extremely early in the morning and then stop for breakfast with their colleagues in the office kitchen at about 9am and its oven ka’ak with a selection of cheese, vegetables, yoghurt, hummus and falafel enjoyed with hot sweet minty tea.
2 cups of whole milk, warmed
1/2 cup natural yoghurt, warmed
5 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sesame seeds
preheat the oven to 260c
warm the milk and yoghurt for about 20 seconds in a microwave and then add the yeast, sugar, baking powder, salt, 1/2 cup of flour to a bowl and mix together. cover and leave aside in a warm place for 20 minutes.
after 20 minutes add the remaining 5 cups of flour and work together with your hands forming a rough dough. it will be dry, so then start to add the olive oil a little at a time. do this until you get a smooth and silky dough (you may not need all the oil) tip it onto an oiled surface and knead for 10 minutes.
pat the ball of silky dough with olive oil and place in a large bowl, cover with cling-film and wrap in a blanket/ tea towel and keep in a warm spot for 45 minutes.
while the bread rises, line your largest/ longest baking trays with parchment paper and prepare your work area with: 1) an oiled section to work the bread; 2) a floured area to place shaped bread; 3) a clean tea towel to cover the shaped breads.
once the dough has doubled in size divide into 8/10 pieces (this will depend on how big your baking trays are- if they are bog you can have less bigger ka’ak, and if smaller you can have more smaller ones)
roll one of your pieces into a long sausage (as long as your baking sheet) and then use a sharp knife to cut a slit along the length of the dough stopping about 1 inch from either end. separate the two sides of dough and shape nicely until you have a long rounded oblong/ egg shape (see photograph).
transfer to the floured area and generously sprinkle with sesame seeds, then cover with the tea towel. continue with each piece of dough and repeat the process.
once each bread has rested for about 20 minutes put it in the hot oven for 6-8 minutes until a light golden colour is achieved. bake the bread in batches of 2 or 3 and continue until they are all done.
as they come out of the oven leave them to cool for 15 minutes and then cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm (without the steam softening them).
you must serve and eat some immediately. good extra virgin olive oil, yoghurt, boiled eggs and za’atar are great choices. I love salty tomatoes and labneh with good good oil too. you can keep a few form the batch to eat over the next few days and i would either gift the rest that you wont get through while they are fresh (you WILL have very grateful neighbors) or freeze them.