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Palestinian-Style Turmeric Bread (Ka’ak Asfar)
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
01In a stand mixer with the dough hook, mix the flour, sesame seeds, sugar, yeast, aniseed, nigella seeds, turmeric and salt on medium until well combined, about 1 minute. In a 1-quart liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, combine the water, oil and almond extract. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture. Knead on medium-low until the mixture forms a smooth, elastic ball and clears the sides of the bowl, 7 to 10 minutes, occasionally scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl; if needed, knead in up to 2 tablespoons additional flour. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to it. Brush the dough with oil, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
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