Ring-shaped biscuits: ka’k (كَعْك)

This recipe is unusual in that it is one of the few attributed to a female cook, in this case al-Hafiziyya (الحافِظِيَّة), who was a servant to al-Malik al-‘Adil (d. 1218), the younger brother and successor of the great Salah al-Din (Saladin). The biscuits were extremely popular, and their preparation often involved them being cooked twice (e.g. baking and toasting). This 13th-century Syrian recipe is made with semolina, almond oil and milk. Note that they are not sweet but savoury — a wonderful accompaniment for, for instance, pâté, or any kind of dip. The birthplace of ka’k is Egypt — indeed, the word itself is derived from the Coptic ϭⲁⲁϭⲉ (kaake), or its variant ⲕⲁⲕⲉ (kake), meaning ‘baked loaf, cake’.

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