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Ka'ach bilmalch make the rounds

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sometimes I make bread just for the sake of making bread. Sure, I eat it too but even while I am eating my way through one loaf, I start another because the breadmaking process is so appealing.
And then I end up with bits and bobs in the freezer. As I write this, I probably have enough bread to feed our two-person household for at least three weeks. There are half loaves of barley bread and pure levain country brown, a whole ciabatta, six sourdough tangzhong buns and a few slices of ... well, I have to admit, I don't know what bread those slices came from. In the fridge I found enough struan for about three bites and an eighth of an onion loaf. Tell me I don't bake too much bread.
So what am I doing making these little bread rings called ka'ach bilmalch?
Because ka'ach bilmalch is no ordinary bread that might only be eaten when I remember to take out the butter from the fridge to soften until it is spreadable. Ka'ach bilmalch is bread I could eat on its own in one sitting if I allowed myself to. There is never any ka'ach bilmalch left after two days.
(I say ka'ach bilmalch a lot, don't I? And I'm not even sure how to pronounce the name. Kaa-ash beel-malsh?)
Bread for sale, from Jerusalem
This is yet another recipe from the gorgeous Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (I have the Ebury Press edition, with the beautiful cloth-bound cover). They introduce the savoury bread snack with a story of the family that makes it under the Abadi brand, which all Jerusalemites know so well that it's become the generic name for ka'ach bilmalch.
Although made with a yeast dough, ka'ach bilmalch are more cookie than bread. They're supposed to have a "pleasant crunch, hard crumble". Similar cookies can be found elsewhere in the Middle East and they remind me of the kahk or Iraqi bread bracelets I've made before.
This is off to YeastSpotting.
Simply moreish
Ka'ach Bilmalch
Makes 15-20. From Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

250g all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp instant yeast
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp ground cumin
¾ tbsp fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
50g sunflower oil
50g butter, cubed and softened
50-60ml water, approximate
1 egg, for glaze
1 tsp black and white sesame seed mixture

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in yeast, sugar, cumin and fennel. Make a well in the centre and add oil. Stir to combine. Rub in butter. Gradually add water and mix to a soft dough. Knead until smooth, about two minutes. Form into a ball, cover and set aside for 10 minutes.
Place dough on a work surface and press into a rough rectangle. Using a bench scraper, cut dough into small portions (pic 1). Roll out each portion into a 12cm to 13cm rope and press ends together, overlapping slightly, to form a ring (pic 2). Place on a parchment-lined baking tray.
Brush rings with egg and sprinkle lightly with sesame seed mixture (pic 3). Cover and set aside for 30 minutes to rise (pic 4).
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200°C. Bake rings for 20 to 22 minutes until puffed and top is golden. This next step is optional; I do this to get the crust lightly crisp without making the cookies too crunchy: Turn off the oven, prop open the oven door with a wooden spoon and leave the rings inside for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before storing in an air-tight container. Eat ka'ach bilmalch on their own or serve with a dip.


  1. I have to admit that if I didn't have a very strong self control over bread making, my freezer would also be full of bread from the long list of recipes I still want to try hehe These little rings look amazing, very tempting indeed!

  2. Great! A kind of bread that doesn't need rising time? Looks so cute and you get them all the same size:D


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