This recipe is exciting to me since it marks the first recipe for the MENA Cooking Club. This month’s country was Algeria and the host was Asmaa from Halal Home Cooking. Asmaa has been a dear friend of mine for several years now. She lives in her homeland of England and is married to an Algerian and together they have three beautiful kids. Just like me and a lot of you she is learning how to cook her husbands favorite foods from his country.
Asma chose – for a savory dish and Algerian Kaak for the sweet one. The Algerian Kaak recipe she used is from the blog La Petite Paniere and is the dish that I decided to make this month. In MENA we are allowed to use the hostesses chosen blogs recipe and make any changes that we may want. North African kaak usually contains anise and fennel, which are actually my two least favorite spices so I opted for my favorite in their place which is cardamom.
I looked over a few recipes to see what the base ingredients were for Algerian Kaak and wrote one that would make a smaller batch. As you see my kaak is also a bit lighter in color which is due to not using anise and fennel. I also replaced the usual oil for olive oil to make it a bit healthier. I made half of mine without sesame seeds sprinkled on top and half with. These were delicious and perfect for a Ramadan treat in the evening with coffee.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 cup warm water + 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds plus more for topping
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
1. In a small bowl, add yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of warm water, mix and allow to sit for 5 minutes. It will be frothy.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, orange blossom water and mix. Add olive oil and yeast mixture, mix well. Add sesame seeds, egg and a small amount of water until a dough has formed.
3. Mix well with hands and knead for 5 minutes, then shape into 13 balls the size of small eggs. Carefully roll each ball into a strip about 6 inches long and then press ends together to form a circle. Place each cookie on a nonstick baking mat on a cookie sheet. You can make decorations on top by using a knife to make slits. Cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F.
4. In a small bowl, add egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of cold water, mix. Carefully brush the tops of the cookies with this mixture. If using more sesame seeds on top sprinkle. Place in the oven and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes until golden.
Yields: 13 cookies