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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Savory Sesame Bread Rings (Ka'kat) & Roasted Thyme Sesame Blend (Za'atar)

I'm still in catch-up mode in cooking through Flatbreads & Flavors, but I'm happy to say that I'm only 2 days late this opposed to 2 weeks.  A notable improvement.  And actually, I was really looking forward to baking these sesame rings for one major reason (aside from the freshly baked bread factor which is always tops).  That reason?  Oddly enough, it was the recommended accompaniment to these tempting, oval rings.  Za'atar.  Or roasted thyme and sesame blend.

You see, my favorite local market has a pretty impressive aisle housing "international" items.  I find many of the imported items that I can't find anywhere else locally.  From treacle and English biscuits to golden syrup and "exotic" spices.  For months now, I've been eyeing a 16 ounce bag of Green Za'atar.  It wasn't expensive or anything...I just wasn't sure how I would use it.  I was intrigued by the look and the ingredients of roasted wheat, roasted thyme, and ground sumac (along with sesame seeds and salt).  Ground sumac.  What in the world is it?  Sure, I'd heard of sumac.  I knew the word.  But what in the heck was it.  Really?  In the back of Flatbreads & Flavors I found my answer.  Sumac is a reddish spice that looks sort of like chile powder and made from dried, ground sumac berries.  It gives a pleasant acid taste to spice blends and dishes.  Huh.

Well, when Za'atar was listed as a suggested accompaniment, I made a beeline to the international aisle and giddily placed that bag of spice in my cart.  While I've included the recipe for making Za'atar at home, if you're unable to source sumac (like me...and no I didn't look online...I wanted it NOW), this is a fantastic option.
This sesame ring dough is simple and very easy to work with.  My recommendations are to make sure you  have a big, clear work surface for rolling the long ropes - it'll make your life so much easier.  And to use a parchment or silpat lined sheet tray to lay said ropes on.  The original recipe calls for them to be oiled, but I found that the dough kept sliding and shrinking back when I tried this.  The lining gives the dough something to hold onto and lets the rings keep their long, brilliant shape.  My rolls weren't perfectly even from top to bottom on this first try - why I'm recommending you give yourself a nice, clear, BIG work surface.  I'll follow my advice next time.   It didn't affect their baking or taste, though.  Merely the aesthetics.

I will definitely be making these again - they are wonderful while warm.  Good and chewy and perfection when ripped and dipped into olive oil and touched to the Za'atar.  My kind of snackin' food.  Or a meal (I've mentioned that I can make a meal out of bread once or twice before, no?).

Savory Sesame Bread Rings (Ka'kat)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 15-17 minutes
Keywords: bake bread vegetarian sesame seeds Israeli
Ingredients (4 oval rings - ~12" long)
  • 1 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1½ c. warm water
  • 2 c. bread flour
  • 1-2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbs. water, for egg wash
  • 4-5 tsp. sesame seeds
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • Za'atar (Roasted Thyme & Sesame Blend)- recipe follows or pre-made (I like Ziyad)
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a medium to large bowl. Combine bread flour and salt in a small bowl and add to the yeast, one cup at a time, stirring in one direction with a wooden spoon to help activate gluten. In the same manner, stir in one cup of the whole wheat flour. Now, stir in the remaining cup of whole wheat flour a little at a time until the dough will no longer hold any flour (you may have some flour left over).

Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 7-8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. If dough seems sticky when you're trying to knead, add in a bit more of the flour that you haven't used yet.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, ~1 hour.
Punch down the dough and divide into 4 fairly equal pieces. On your work surface, roll each piece under your palms into a long rope, 24"-36" long. Pinch the ends of each rope together to make a loop. Place the rings on two trays that have been lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Cover and let rise 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400° F during last 15 minutes or so of rise time.

Brush each bread liberally with egg wash and sprinkle with about a quarter of the sesame seeds. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden. If both sheets don't fit on the same rack, switch them halfway through baking. Cool slightly on a rack before serving.

Serve with olive oil and a little cone of Za'atar for dipping (dip bread in oil, then touch to the herb...or simply let the herb cling to the moist crumb of the bread if you don't want to use the oil).
Za'atar (Roasted Thyme & Sesame Blend) yield: ¼ cup
2 Tbs. sesame seeds
3 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves or 2 Tbs. dried thyme
½ tsp. salt
½-1 tsp. ground sumac, to taste

Place a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame seeds and toaste, stirring or shaking constantly until they start to give off an aroma. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

Grind thyme leaves to a coarse powder in a spice grinder or mortar. Add sesame seeds and salt and grind to a powder. Add the sumac. Store in a tightly sealed spice jar or glass container.

adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors
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  1. Gloriadelpilar_1994March 17, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    aaah Heather look delicious:))

  2. I totally loved these rings.  Already made them twice.  Second time I divided the dough into 8 so I didn't need such a huge area ... well actually because I had so many "friends" asking for one; I had "more" to share ;-)

  3. Great idea!  I may do that next time. (DUH, why didn't I think of that ;P)

  4. Here it's called "Jerusalem Bagel" and it's very popular!
    We all just love it

  5. this bread looks wonderful lovely post

  6. These rings are really delicious, aren't they? And isn't the olive oil followed by thyme spice mix fantastic with them? 

    If your spice store carries just sumac (I hope it does), I highly recommend getting it. Then you can make your on za'tar. I can't wait til we can use thyme from the garden to make it.

  7. They don't =(  ...otherwise I definitely would have tried it. And I still will if I happen upon it one of these days! So delicious w/ the oil and the mmm mmmm...

  8. Za'tar is fabulous! I always add it hummus and baba.  These rings look delish :)

  9. I'm going to try making my za'atar - have been looking at recipes with it longingly. Love sesame in baked goods. It's a beauty!

  10. OH, awesome idea! I will definitely be adding it to these. We eat a LOT of hummus around here =) thanks!

  11. I have homemade za'atar sitting in my cabinet and it's basically begging to be turned into these rings!

  12. MMmmm this looks so good and that Za'tar is extremely interesting. I have a question though, do you wait for the yeast to bloom or do you add the flour mixture as soon as you mix the yeast with warm water?

  13. I had to use sumac for a recipe but couldn't find it. Not like I knew what I was looking for anyways :) This looks great.

  14. These looks wonderful! I have not heard of Za'atar before, really new to me. The bread must be really fragrant from the nutty sesame. Beautiful bake, Heather!

  15. My kind of snacking food too Heather! I love za'taar!

  16. SO wonderful to see you featuring ka'ak and za'atar! These are two of my childhood favorites. I can still taste fresh ka'ak from outside my great uncle's house on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

    Well done, yours looks nice and crisp, just how it should be :)

  17. they look awesome..yummy bread rings

  18. I have never heard or seen this before Heather; love your blog; full of foodie information for around the globe.

  19. Amrita - The original recipe called for adding it right away, and that is the way I did it. Of course, I used some pretty active yeast, so it bloomed almost immediately after I combined it with the water.  So I'd say use your judgement as far as what type of yeast you're using.  If it's not "quick", then maybe give it up to 5 minutes or so to bloom. =) Does that help any? Or was it just a confusing mess... ;)

  20. They look good I am going to try making it. It reminds me of simmit, which I've made and it didn't really turn out, but my daughter liked it. I haven't heard of green sumac before, I was able to get the regular red sumac in my grocery store, so I made za'atar for my flat breads. I use it on fish too, gives it the tangy lemony flavor fish calls for :)

  21. I don't think it's green sumac Lyndsey...I think it's red like one you've used before.  I think the "green" in za'atar comes from the thyme.  I believe.  So yes, it sounds like the one you've made before. I think  it would be fabulous with fish!

  22. I could easily have a meal out of just this bread, olive oil and spice blend too!  So tempted to make it - I've never made za'atar before

  23. These sesame rings look perfect for dipping. I love the flavor of Za'atar and need to use it more. ;-)

  24. I love za'atar (mostly because I have a crush on sumac) This just sounds like such a fun little snack or something out of the ordinary for guest. Thanks Heather!

  25. I love Zaatar.. My aunt makes a delicious Zaatar bread in which she spreads the zaatar on dough and then bakes.. becomes something like a pizza but tastes so different and divine.. Love your idea of using zaatar as a dip!

  26. I have never had Zaatar, but it sounds delicious. Your sesame bread rings look gorgeous too. I do love sesame seeds on breads, they add such a great flavour and texture.