Here's a recipe for Arabic ring-shaped bread covered in sesame seeds. They're as common to Lebanon as bagels in NYC. Enjoy them plain as an afternoon snack or with cheese, za'atar and baked eggs.
- 500 g self-raising flour
- ¾ cup (165 g) caster sugar
- ½ tsp ground mahleb (see Note) (also known as mahlab or aniseed)
- ½ tsp baking powder (optional)
- 1 egg, plus 1 extra for egg wash
- ½ cup (125 ml) milk, room temperature
- 125 g unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup sesame seeds
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.
Preheat oven to 200˚C. Line two large, flat oven trays with baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, mahleb or aniseed and baking powder (if using). Make a well in the centre and add in the egg, milk and butter. Mix the dough gently until it just comes together. Beat the extra egg in a small bowl for egg wash.
Start making the biscuits by rolling small amounts (a slightly rounded tablespoon measure) of dough into logs, about 15 cm long. Curl some pieces into rings, lightly brushing with egg wash between the join to help seal. Fold the remaining pieces in half, then twist together to braid. Place onto lined oven trays, leaving a small gap between each.
Place sesame seeds into a bowl, brush the top of the biscuits well with egg wash, then scatter with sesame seeds. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the biscuits turns the colour of light honey. Remove from oven and place biscuits on a cooling rack.
Store biscuits in airtight containers and give some to family and friends!
• Mahleb (mahlab) is a spice from the dried and ground seed of a particular variety of cherry.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Michelle Noerianto. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.