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Palestinian-Style Turmeric Bread (Ka’ak Asfar)
2¼ hours 30 minutes active, plus cooling
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.
grams (4¾ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed and for dusting
grams (½ cup) white or black sesame seeds, or a combination, toasted and cooled