Feed the Syrian body and soul with banned buns!

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Ka’ak are the third in our series on Banned Buns (click here to read the first and second of our banned bun recipes).  They are little, crispy buns shaped like tiny bagels and they used to be on sale all over Syria in coffee shops, bakeries and bars.  Sprinkled with sesame seeds and satisfying crunchy, these make an excellent snack.  I bet you anything that if you bake up a bunch of these and took them to a refugee centre, or the airport or out to a protest march, you would nourish people – body and soul.Book of Buns VIrtuous Bread Jane Mason


Makes 30-50 depending on how big you want them

For the dough

450 g strong white wheat flour
250 g water
2 g instant/4.5 g dry/9 g fresh yeast
9 g salt
50 g butter or good quality olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground mahlab (the is the stone of the St Lucie cherry and you can get it at a Middle Eastern shop)
1 teaspoon ground kizabrah (or ground anise)

To decorate

1 whole egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
Sesame seeds


If using dry yeast, measure the flour into a bowl and make a well in it. Sprinkle in the yeast, pour 100 g of the water over it and let it sit for 15 minutes. A beige sludge may or may not form on the water – don’t worry about it. The thing is to let the yeast dissolve thoroughly. Then, add the rest of the ingredients and bring them into a ball in the bowl.

If using fresh or instant yeast, measure all the ingredients into a bowl and bring them together into a ball in the bowl.

Turn the dough ball out of the bowl and on to the counter and knead well for 10 minutes. Pop it back into the bowl and let it sit for an hour, covered with cling film or a damp tea towel.

Shape the buns

Pre heat the oven to 230 degrees celcius as these buns do not require a second rise.

1. Pull the dough gently out onto a non floury surface and divide it into little pieces about 20 -30 g each
2. Roll each piece into a thin snake about 10 cm long
3. Form the snake into a circle and seal the ends together by pinching tightly
4. Dip each circle first in a shallow bowl of beaten egg and then in sesame seeds
5. Place each ka’ak on a baking tray that you have lined with non stick baking parchment

When the tray is full, pop it immediately in the oven and bake the buns for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 180 degrees and bake the buns for a further 10-15 minutes, depending on how big they are. They will be a little bit pale – simply because they are not baked for very long, and they should be completely dry. Remove them from the oven and let them cool completely.

Bake all the buns in this way and if you find they are not completely dry when they have cooled – if there is any squish in them at all – pile them all back on a baking tray and put them in the oven. Turn the oven to its lowest setting and leave them there for several hours (or over night) until they are totally dry.

That way, they last for ages in a tin and are very transportable so you can take them out and about with you and make new friends.

This recipe first appeared in The Book of Buns, available on Amazon.

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