Yellow Bread recipe كعك أصفر

20120408_132504 copyHappy Easter to all those who celebrated it and to those who will be celebrating it next week.

One of my favorite (non-religious) things about Easter is this traditional yellow bread (or as we call it in Arabic Ka’ak Asfar كعك أصفر). This bread is a Palestinian tradition and is prepared during the Easter week. As my grandma used to say, the shape of this bread represents the big round stone that covered the tomb of Jesus. You cannot walk around the area I live in on Good Friday and the Saturday after without having the aromas of anise and turmeric tickling your nose and giving you an instant drool.

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Mom always bakes this bread on Easter. It has become so essential to our family that the combination of Labneh, boiled eggs and this yellow bread is like the Holy Trinity of Easter breakfast. According to the Greek Catholic (and Greek Orthodox) church tradition, a mass is held at the break of dawn that symbolizes the Resurrection of Christ and when the women discovered that the tomb was empty and the Lord has risen. Mass usually is held at 5 am and ends at around at 6:30-7 am giving us a blessed start for the New Sunday. It was our tradition that afterwards, we go to grandma’s house and share breakfast. Grandma passed away a year and a half ago, it is quite a change in the tradition but life has to go on.

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This year, the Easter dawn mass was shifted to Saturday at 11 pm. We finished at around 1 am and got back home and had … ummm, breakfast? I don’t know what to call it. It’s always a pleasant gathering for our small family.

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I will share with you mom’s recipe of this traditional Easter yellow bread.


1 kg flour
1 tablespoon mahlab powder
1 tbsp turmeric
2 tbsp ground anise seeds
Sprinkle of nutmeg
Sprinkle of ground cloves
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tbsp black seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon yeast
Water, use as necessary for the dough’s consistency

Mix all the ingredients. Add water to get firm dough

Brush generously the top of the dough with olive oil and cover in plastic wrap and leave until it rises. (30-45 min)

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Take a handful piece of dough and form into small ball. Repeat with the whole batch.

Use the olive oil in the dough to wipe each ball u make to keep them from sticking to each other.

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Roll the balls into around 18 cm disks or directly spread them over a special mold for this kind of bread (in case you couldn’t get a mold, use the bottom of a clean colander to give the bread a pattern and prevent it from rising)

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Place in a baking tray and bake in a hot oven until the top and bottom are lightly browned.

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20120407_183413 copyServe warm with labneh and boiled eggs.
They can be stored in the freezer for a long time. Thaw and heat well before serving
This portion makes around 10-12 piece (18 cm piece)

20120408_132538 copyHave a blessed Easter!


7 thoughts on “Yellow Bread recipe كعك أصفر

  1. Yumm.. I love those!
    Tell me, do you know exactly what “ma7lab” is? I have tried to ask around, but no one seemed able to tell me what it is: an extract? an resin? a starch?… where does it come from? what do we use it for: I’m trying to figure out its properties, because I’m sure it is used for other than just the flavour. Do you know anything about that?

      • Oh, so it’s a spice!! and from the seeds of St Lucie cherries, how interesting. Of course no one was gonna know about that!!
        So I guess its only property is about flavour; it has no effect on rising, consistency of the dough.

  2. Hello Hisham
    I came across your blog because I just posted my family’s recipe for this same bread 🙂 and someone asked me about the designs on the wooden molds. The story I heard was that this is a peasant bread and the patterns were originally meant to resemble the effect of raindrops on the soil and on water.
    I loved learning that there is a religious significance to the shape too

    • Oh, never knew about the pattern.
      Isn’t it nice to share such traditions from our heritage?

      I’ll check the molds the next time I see them, and maybe I’ll ask the elderly if there is any other patterns.

  3. Pingback: Kaak Asfar - Pan palestino amarillo - No quieres caldo? ... Pues toma 2 tazas.

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