JOIN! 12 Weeks for $1

Palestinian-Style Turmeric Bread (Ka’ak Asfar)

Makes four 7-inch rounds

2¼ hours 30 minutes active, plus cooling

Made This Recipe? Write a Review.
Thank you for submitting your review! A member of our team is confirming the review meets our site's Community Guidelines. It will be posted on the site shortly.

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



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


Pardon the interruption

You need to be a Milk Street Digital Member to see the full recipe


and get access to all of our recipes and articles online, as well as in print.

How we use your email.

Your email address is required to identify your subscription. We will use it for customer service as well as other communications from Milk Street. We will not share, or rent your email address.

Felicity D.
February 18, 2023
Fabulous tasting bread
My new favourite bread
Cynthia M.
September 13, 2022
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
Denise C.
March 7, 2024
How much Mahlab?
How much Mahlab do I use instead of the almond extract?