Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ka'ak (North African Anise Cookie)

There are many variations of this cookie, but from what I understand, the traditional version requires yeast and has to rise overnight. I know I have the patience for this, but I do not have the ability to plan ahead, so I tend to go with this quick recipe instead. Yeast could still be added (1 teaspoon or so, activated in sugar water), but it would only act as an additional flavor. To make the cookie puff up a bit, I added baking powder instead.

Now, I will warn you, this is a crunchy/hard cookie that's meant to be dipped into coffee, warm milk, or hot tea. So when you remove it from the oven, don't think that you over-baked it. It's very similar to biscotti, actually.

Oh yes.... and Happy Halloween!!!! :)

Grind the fennel seeds
Fennel seeds
Add the fennel and anise seeds to the mixture
Add water until the dough comes together
Roll out the dough
Shape into a circle
Cut into the sides
Brush with egg and bake
Ka'ak (North African Anise Cookie)
Serving Size = 16 cookies
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg (beat before adding)
  • 1/3 cup oil (flavorless oil, I use grapeseed)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg for egg wash plus 1 teaspoon water, mixed
  • 1/4 cup water, roughly
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Start by toasting the sesame seeds in a dry pan, over medium high heat. It only takes a minute, so watch them. Once they take on a light golden brown color, remove from heat.
  3. Grind the fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle. If you don't have one, put them in a ziplock and crush them with a pan.
  4. Mix together all of the dry ingredients, the fennel, and anise.
  5. Beat the egg for a minute, just until it's mixed, and then add the the cookies. Add the oil and mix. The mixture will be crumbly. Slowly add the water until it combines, pulls away from the sides of the bowl, and forms a ball. You may not need all of the water, so slowly add it.
  6. Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a cylinder shape, then smash the ends together to form a circle with a hole in the middle (like a doughnut). Place on a greased cookie sheet. Continue doing that until all of them are done.
  7. With a knife, slice into the cookie, all the way to the cookie sheet, cutting completely through, but do not cut the circle in half. So it should still be 1 circle, but with cuts all the way through, around the edges.
  8. Beat 1 egg with 1 teaspoon of water and brush each cookie. There will be enough egg wash for at least 3 batches of cookies, if not more.
  9. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until golden brown (especially the edges). 
  10. Remove from oven and let cool on pan for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. This is a hard cookie, almost like biscotti, so it's best served with coffee, tea, or warm milk.
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Debra Kapellakis said...

Never seen anyting like this. thanks

Swathi Iyer said...

Love this cookies Lsa, I will try this one.

France@beyondthepeel said...

I love fennel and anise together, but I have never tried them in a cookie. How brilliant. Thanks for all the how to photos as well!

April @ The 21st Century Housewife said...

I love the flavour of anise, and these cookies sound really wonderful with the fennel seeds as well. I love how you shaped them.

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