Ka’ak – Lebanese Sesame Topped Bread - My Diverse Kitchen - A Vegetarian Blog (2024)

This month Karen of Bake My Day decided the Bread Baking Babes would bake some Ka’ak – Lebanese Sesame Topped Bread. Now Ka’ak is the Arabic word for cake but across the Middle East it is also the name for a kind of flatbread. This bread, in countries like Palestine, Syria and Jordan, generally has a hole in the middle, is topped with sesame seeds and is sold everywhere.

In Lebanon, Ka’ak is the same with a hole in it but the hole is off-centre so it looks more like a handbag or purse. For this reason it is also called Handbag or Purse Bread. It is a very popular street bread and usually sold by cart or bicycle vendors. The breads are tied or strung together through the “holes” on poles or hooks making it easy to transport. Ka’ak is crisp, with a soft and airy crumb. Slightly chewy, it is generally eaten with Za’atar or a local cheese spread.

Ka’ak – Lebanese Sesame Topped Bread - My Diverse Kitchen - A Vegetarian Blog (1)

When I saw this month’s bread announcement I went looking through my copy of Anissa Helou’s Mediterranean Street Food. I didn’t find a recipe for Ka’ak but I found this excerpt – “Sesame Galettes, in one form or another are a street staple throught the eastern Mediterranean. In Greece, Turkey, and Egypt they are shaped into rings and in Greece they are made slightly sweet. In Lebanon they are shaped like handbags, and the vendor will tear the fat ‘bag’ part open to sprinkle the inside with a little za’tar. In tripoli and Syria the galettes are shaped into flat disks and are often sold filled halloumi cheese seasoned with sumac.”

If you’re thinking that this is just another sesame topped flatbread, you couldn’t be more wrong. My photographs don’t do the bread justice at all because they were taken at night in bad light while a very hungry family was impatiently waiting for their soup and bread! There’s no secret ingredient in this recipe but the bread is worth making an eating.

The bread is easy enough to make but has two rises before shaping unlike regular bread. This apparently makes the bread softer. If the 1 tbsp of yeast scares you like it did me, don’t worry. It seemed like a lot of yeast but didn’t want to alter the recipe much since it was my first try. I don’t like very yeasty bread but I couldn’t even taste all that yeast in the bread.

Ka’ak – Lebanese Sesame Topped Bread - My Diverse Kitchen - A Vegetarian Blog (2)

As I always do with breads, I didn’t use an egg wash but a “cornstarch” wash instead. Otherwise I pretty much went with Karen’s recipe. My dough went through an extra rise (three rises in all) before shaping however. I now live in a part of the world where power outages (scheduled and unscheduled) are the norm. And wouldn’t an outage happen just when the dough was ready for the oven? So after two rises, my dough spent a few hours in the fridge rising a third time before shaping.

There are a couple of different ways of shaping this Ka’ak. One is to roll out portions of the dough into a round and use a small round cookie cutter to make the “hole” in the bread. This does leave you with little extra rounds of dough. The other method is to roll the dough like shaping pretzels – a thick middle and thinner ends which can be brought together forming the “handle” of the handbag bread.

Ka’ak – Lebanese Sesame Topped Bread - My Diverse Kitchen - A Vegetarian Blog (3)

Ka’ak – Lebanese Sesame Topped Bread

A handbag or purse shaped sesame topped flat bread from Lebanon. Popular street food generally eaten with Za'atar or local cheese.

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 30 minutes mins

Cook Time 15 minutes mins

Total Time 3 hours hrs 45 minutes mins

Course breads

Cuisine lebanese


  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp active dried yeast or 3/4instant dry yeast
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4water
  • 1/8 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp cornstarch or 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1-2 tbs sesame seeds per Ka’ak


  • Put all the ingredients listed upto and including the flours in a large bowl (or food processor bowl). Make sure your yeast is active. Mix together. Add 1/2 cup water and as much more of it as required and knead the dough until it is soft, elastic but not sticky.

  • Shape it into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, turning it to coat well with the oil. Cover loosely and let it rise till double in volume – about 1 1/2 hours. Knead lightly and let it rest in the same bowl for another hour or so till double in volume.

  • Then lightly flatten the dough and divide it into 6 or 8 pieces. 8 will give you smaller Ka’ak. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough into an approximately 1/2" thick round. If using 6 pieces of dough roll out to about 7” in diameter. If using 8, then roll out to about 5” in diameter. Using a small round cookie cutter cut out a hole away from the centre towards the edge but not too close to it. Stretch it slightly (not too much or the dough will become too thin) to give it a more rustic look, if you would prefer. Place on a lined, floured or lightly greased baking sheet.

    Ka’ak – Lebanese Sesame Topped Bread - My Diverse Kitchen - A Vegetarian Blog (4)

  • Repeat with remaining dough. You can bake the cut out rounds of dough as they are. Let the shaped dough rise till a bit puffy, for about 30 to 40 minutes. Brush the top with a mixture of milk and corn starch (or egg wash) and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.

  • Preheat your oven to 220C (430F) with a baking stone or an inverted baking tray inside. Bake the breads for about 10 to 15 minutes till puffed and golden brown. Let them cool a bit before digging in.

  • There was a suggestion that these breads would benefit from a bit of steam in your oven (ice cubes or boiling water in a heated pan) but I didn’t use it.

The Bread Baking Babes are –

Bake My Day – Karen

Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire – Katie

Blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth

Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle

Girlichef – Heather

Life’s A Feast – Jamie

A Messy Kitchen – Kelly

Lucullian Delights – Ilva

My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna

Notitie Van Lien – Lien

Bread Experience – Cathy

Karen’s Kitchen Stories – Karen

Judy’s Gross Eats – Judy

Though the Bread Baking Babes (BBB) are a closed group, you’re most welcome to bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy. Here’s how it works.

The Kitchen of the Month this month is Karen’s andthe recipe for this month’s bread is on her blog. Bake the Ka’ak according to that recipe and post it on your blog before the 28th of this month. Make sure you mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to her BBB post in your own post.

Then e-mail Karen with your name and the link to the post, or leave a comment on her blog post with this information. She will do a Buddy round-up for this month on her blog and send you a BBB badge for this bread to add to your post on your blog.

Ka’ak – Lebanese Sesame Topped Bread - My Diverse Kitchen - A Vegetarian Blog (2024)


Why does kaak bread have a hole in it? ›

In the case of ka'ak it is a slightly sweet street bread. Its unique shape (which sometimes gets referred to as purse bread) owes to that street vendors add the hole so the bread can hang on a peg to cool before it is sold.

What is kaak bread made of? ›

Place of originSyria
Region or stateMiddle East
Main ingredientsWheat flour, vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, black cumin or sesame seeds, egg yolk, water, salt
Cookbook: Ka'ak Media: Ka'ak
1 more row

What is the meaning of Ka AK in Arabic? ›

Ka'ak, pronounced “kaahk”, is an arabic word for biscuit or baked goods. It's one of the most popular Middle Eastern breads known for its very distinct shape.

What is kaek? ›

Typically, this is a yeasted, crusty bread which is shaped into an oblong ring and covered in sesame seeds. The dough has a lighter texture and is crunchy on the outside. The word ka'ek in Arabic means cake, it can be referred to as cakes or cookies. I have a Kaek and Maamoul Easter Cookies recipe you should also try.

What are the white spots on Lebanese bread? ›

Those white spots are mold… it usually means that the bread bag, or whatever container you store the bread in, was not properly sealed and this allowed mold to grow on the bread. Note that whether we are talking about white spots, or light green or yellow furry sections or worse, please do NOT eat the bread.

What is the meaning of Kaak in Arabic? ›

From Arabic كعك (“biscuit, cookie”). Likely a distant cognate with cake.

What is another name for Lebanese bread? ›

Pita bread

It is thin and puffs up as it bakes. Since it does not contain any added fat, it dries out rapidly and is best consumed while still warm; later, it may become chewy. The "pocket" pita originated in the Middle East. It is also known as Arab(ic) bread, Lebanese bread, or Syrian bread.

What is the difference between simit and kaak? ›

While ka'ak uses sugar water to ensure sesame seeds adhere to its exterior, bagels use the latent moisture and heat from boiling or an egg wash to add a wide variety of textures and flavors to their crusts, whereas simit opts for the grape syrup known as pekmez to ensure that sesame seeds (or poppy, or flax) stick.

What is the history of Kaak? ›

Archaeologists in Austria found 3000 year old charred bagel shaped breads (dating to 960-900 BCE). The Babylonian Talmud (Sixth Century CE) mentions a kaak bread, probably from the Aramaic word for teeth. In 1226 the Kitab Wusla al Habib cookbook from Baghdad included several kaak recipes for ring shaped breads.

What is the meaning of Ka in Arabic? ›

The preposition (ka) has only one meaning in Arabic, which is the similitude between the preceding and the following noun.

How many calories are in one kaak? ›

Moulin D'or Kaak (1 serving) contains 15g total carbs, 14g net carbs, 1.8g fat, 2.1g protein, and 81 calories.

What is Kaakeh bread? ›

Kaakeh (pronounced Kah-ek) translates to 'cake' in Arabic, although kaakeh does not resemble the traditional cakes that are recognized in the West. Kaakeh, in the Middle East in areas like Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, is a very popular savory bread, shaped much like a small purse.

What is kaak spice? ›

The key ingredient is the iconic ka'ak spice blend of ground anise, fennel, mahlab and nutmeg. There are many variations of the recipe, and this featured version from Lebanon has a crisp texture on the outside with a soft crumbly texture on the inside that's perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

What does Khaek mean in Thai? ›

Thailand has had long standing racial issues with Middle Easterners and other Asians, who collectively are also called khaek, meaning "foreigner" or "guest".

Is sourdough bread supposed to have holes? ›

Uneven holes in sourdough not only confirm great characteristics but they are also a clear indicator that the sourdough has been made following traditional Artisan techniques.

What is a round bread with a hole in the middle? ›

Bagels are round, chewy rolls about 10 cm in diameter with a hole in the middle.

Why does my sourdough have a huge hole? ›

"If you get huge holes by the crust and it's dense in the center, it's a sign that the oven isn't hot enough," Allen said. It's also always worth making sure your starter is healthy enough to leaven your project.

What are the little holes in bread called? ›

I'm talking about the holes in bread crumb of course. Newbs call them 'bubbles', veteran nerds might say 'alveoli,' the much sought after crumbular negative space can become an addiction. It can become the single defining factor of one's bread making.

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