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Milk Street Bowtie Palestinian-Style Turmeric Bread (Ka’ak Asfar)

Palestinian-Style Turmeric Bread (Ka’ak Asfar)

Makes four 7-inch rounds

2¼ hours 30 minutes active, plus cooling

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We first tasted ka’ak asfar, which translates as “yellow bread,” at a Palestinian bakery. The warm, golden glow of the round, flattish loaves came from turmeric, and sesame seeds and fragrant spices flavored the subtly sweet, almost cake-like crumb. Hoping to replicate ka’ak asfar at home, we turned to Reem Kassis, author of “The Palestinian Table,” who explained that the bread is a holiday food, sometimes closely associated with Easter, though it’s common to find it year-round. We adapted her recipe, swapping the difficult-to-source mahlab, a spice ground from a type of cherry pit and a common flavoring in Middle Eastern baking, for a small measure of almond extract. In addition to sesame seeds, the recipe calls for nigella seeds, which are teardrop-shaped and black; their flavor is unique, with slightly herbal, onion-y notes. Look for them in Middle Eastern markets, spice shops or well-stocked supermarkets. If you can’t find them, the bread still is delicious without them. To grind the aniseed and nigella seeds, crush them in a mortar with a pestle or pulse them in an electric spice grinder.

Makes four 7-inch

rounds

Tip

Don’t add the toasted sesame seeds to the dry ingredients while still hot. Allow them to cool so they don’t damage the yeast. Be sure to let the breads cool completely before slicing so the knife blade doesn’t compress or tear the crumb.

2¼ hours

30 minutes active, plus cooling

618 grams (4¾ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed and for dusting
71 grams (½ cup) white or black sesame seeds, or a combination, toasted and cooled
107 grams (½ cup) white sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 tablespoons aniseed, coarsely ground
3 tablespoons nigella seeds (see headnote), coarsely ground
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon table salt
1 2/3 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and brushing
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Ingredients
  • 618

    grams (4¾ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed and for dusting

  • 71

    grams (½ cup) white or black sesame seeds, or a combination, toasted and cooled

  • 107

    grams (½ cup) white sugar

  • 1

    tablespoon instant yeast

  • 3

    tablespoons aniseed, coarsely ground

  • 3

    tablespoons nigella seeds (see headnote), coarsely ground

  • 1

    teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1

    teaspoon table salt

  • 1⅔

    cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)

  • ½

    cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and brushing

  • ¼

    teaspoon almond extract

Directions

Palestinian-Style Turmeric Bread (Ka’ak Asfar)

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Reviews
Cynthia M.
September 13, 2022
Wonderful!
I just finished eating three pieces of this bread, one with butter, one with cheddar cheese and one with hot pepper peach jam. So, so good! I actually had some mahlab so I used that instead of the almond extract and upped the turmeric to a tablespoon to get a nice vibrant yellow. I had to bake the loaves 18 minutes in my oven to get them to brown. This is a wonderful recipe!
stephanie e.
August 21, 2022
Hard to stop eating!
A relatively easy bread to make with so much amazing flavor. I didnt have nigella seeds but used a bit of toasted crushed cumin seeds in addition to the other seeds and spices and it was really addictive! A beautiful color, a bit sweet, great toasted with butter and makes an amazing grilled cheese sandwich!
Melodie R.
January 23, 2023
Palestinian-style Turmeric Bread
This is a lovely bread. I had to order the seeds from Amazon, but it turned out so well. I would caution people to bake it to 205 internal degrees or it is a bit goey in the middle it is so soft. Melodie
Linda W.
September 22, 2022
I've made this recipe twice in 2 weeks!
Of course every recipe at Milk Street is awesome, but this bread goes beyond good, it is AMAZING ! I upped the amount of turmeric and as soon as the loaves came out of the oven, I brushed them with melted butter. It's so good that I'll be making this bread again at the request of my father-in-law this weekend and for a friend's brunch next week. YUM !