Kahk or Egyptian Eid cookies are a must. There's no celebration without them. They are semi-sweet spiced dense cookies often filled with Turkish Delight, dates, nuts or a cooked honey mixture called agameya. The main spice used here is Mahlepi and it can be found in Middle Eastern shops in the spice section. They're then dusted with fine sugar and enjoyed with hot tea on Eid morning.
Every year towards the end of Ramadan every Egyptian home is filled with the aroma of butter and kahk essence. And every baker holds their breath as they come out of the oven. A lot is riding on the success of these cookies. Not only the effort, but your reputation as a kahk master. Many are vying for that winning title, but it doesn't come easy. One wrong move with kahk and they aren't soft enough or they might be too soft and fall apart. The filling isn't well distributed. Maybe the shape isn't quite right. It takes practice to get right and when you do, it's so very rewarding.
First you need a winning recipe. I'm sharing my mother's recipe here. It's special to me and she taught me the techniques and tricks to make a winning batch.
Passing on traditions from our culture is so important to me. It's a great activity to get the whole family involved. The kids love rolling the Turkish Delight balls and eating a few on the way. I love sharing with my kids an experience that our grandparents and great grandparents also shared with their families.
Makes 1kg Kahk (approx. 40 cookies)
1kg plain flour
500g melted unsalted butter (you can use ghee or a mixture of both)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 Tbsp Mahlepi powder
2 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm water
About 10-15 pieces of soft eating Turkish Delight
First put the sugar and dry yeast in a cup with about 100ml warm water and mix. Let it sit in a warm place for about 10 mins until it bubbles and rises. This is to ensure your yeast is active.
Now place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Put the sesame seeds, Mahlepi and salt in the middle.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and pour the oil in once it has melted. The warm butter will help activate the Mahlepi aroma and slightly toast the sesame seeds. Mix well until the flour isn't visible.
Transfer to a stand mixer and leave it on low speed for about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides in. Add the activated yeast and restart the mixer on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the dough is soft and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl.
Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel until you prepare the Turkish Delight. Depending on the size of your Turkish Delight squares, cut them into about 4cm squares and squash them in your hands to ensure they're soft and pliable. Roll them into balls.
Now you're going to prepare the kahk dough into balls. Take a small amount and press into the palm of your hands to soften and then roll into a ball. It should be around the size of a ping pong ball. All your dough balls need to be roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
Make a small round dent in the middle and place a Turkish Delight ball in the centre. Close up the dough around the Turkish Delight and smooth the dough ball in the palm of your hand. Place on a lined baking tray. Repeat until all the dough is finished.
Kahk biscuits are decorated in many different ways. You can buy pinchers or molds in Middle Eastern shops. But if you don't have any you can use a fork to create some decorative indents. It will be covered in icing sugar when consumed so don't worry too much.
Place in a preheated oven for 17-20 mins on 160 Degrees Celsius. You know they are cooked when they're blonde on the top and slightly golden on the bottom. They will continue to cook even when out of the oven.
Let them cool completely and store in an airtight container. It's best to avoid adding the icing sugar until you're ready to enjoy them. Storing them with icing sugar will result in the sugar dissolving into the cookies and deteriorating the flavour.
Enjoy your kahk with freshly brewed tea.