Kaak Bil Ajwa is a special recipe that I learned from my Palestinian mother-in-law. They are date-stuffed bracelet cookie that has been passed down through generations in her family. It’s a treat that my boys enjoy, and I’m pleased to carry on this family tradition in our home.
I remember the first time my mother-in-law taught me how to make these cookies. The process was infused with care and dedication. As the aroma of the spices filled the kitchen, we all anticipated the moment when the cookies would be ready to eat.
Now, I’m sharing this cherished recipe with you. The blend of aromatic spices, delicate dough, and rich date paste filling creates a delightful flavour. These cookies are well-suited for sharing with your loved ones over a cup of tea or coffee, fostering connections and memories.
Kaak Bil Ajwa offers a wonderful recipe that offers insight to the rich culinary tradition that has been cherished by generations of Palestinian women. As you prepare these cookies for your family, you’ll be honouring the legacy of the skilled bakers who have passed down this recipe through time. Embrace the process and take pleasure in the art of baking Kaak Bil Ajwa.
Basic ingredients for Kaak Bil Ajwa
All-Purpose Flour: A versatile flour that serves as the base for the dough, providing structure and texture to the cookies.
Mahlab (optional): A fragrant spice derived from the seeds of the St. Lucie cherry, adding a subtle nutty and floral note to the dough.
Sesame Seeds: Small seeds with a mild, nutty flavor that adds both taste and texture to the dough.
Aniseeds Powder: A spice with a sweet, licorice-like flavor that is used in both the dough and the date paste for a distinct taste.
Fennel Powder: A spice with a sweet, aromatic flavor that enhances the overall taste of the dough.
Sugar: Adds a touch of sweetness to the dough and helps with browning during baking.
Baking powder: A leavening agent that helps the dough rise and creates a light and tender texture.
Instant Yeast: Another leavening agent that helps the dough rise, providing a slightly different texture compared to baking powder.
Salt: Enhances the flavors of the other ingredients and balances the sweetness in the dough.
Olive Oil: Adds moisture and richness to the dough, while also contributing to its tender texture.
Melted Butter: Provides richness and a buttery flavor to both the dough and the date paste.
Hand-warm Milk: Helps hydrate the dough and contributes to its tender texture.
Hand-warm Water: Also used to hydrate the dough and create the desired consistency.
Pitted Dates: The main ingredient in the date paste, offering natural sweetness and a rich, chewy texture.
Anise Powder: Used in the date paste to complement the sweetness of the dates with its sweet, liquorice-like flavour.
Cardamom Powder: A warm, slightly spicy flavour that adds depth and complexity to the date paste.
Cinnamon: A sweet and aromatic spice that contributes warmth and a hint of spice to the date paste.
- Whole wheat flour: Substitute all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour for a more wholesome and nutty flavour. You may need to slightly adjust the liquid content to achieve the desired dough consistency.
- Ground cloves or allspice: If you don’t have cardamom powder, you can use ground cloves or allspice to add a different warm, spicy note to the date paste.
- Honey or maple syrup: Instead of sugar, you can use honey or maple syrup to sweeten the dough. Adjust the liquid content as needed.
- Vegetable oil or coconut oil: If you prefer, substitute olive oil with vegetable oil or coconut oil for a different flavour profile in the dough.
Preparation Tips for Kaak Bil Ajwa
- Knead the dough until it is smooth and slightly sticky. If it’s too dry or too sticky, adjust the liquid or flour content accordingly.
- To prevent the dough from sticking to your hands or the rolling pin, lightly dust your hands and work surface with flour.
- When shaping the bracelet cookies, make sure to seal the edges well to prevent the date paste from leaking out during baking.
Serving Tips for Kaak Bil Ajwa
- Kaak Bil Ajwa is best enjoyed with a cup of hot tea or coffee, allowing the warm flavours of the cookies to complement the beverage.
- You can dust the cookies with powdered sugar or drizzle them with honey for added sweetness and a touch of elegance.
- Serve the cookies on a decorative platter or in a beautiful tin to enhance their presentation and make them even more inviting.
- Airtight container: Place the cooled cookies in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag to protect them from moisture and air, both of which can affect their texture and taste.
- Layer with parchment paper: If you need to stack the cookies in the container, separate each layer with a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to prevent the cookies from sticking together.
- Store in a cool, dry place: Keep the container in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight, like a pantry or cupboard. This will help preserve the cookies’ flavor and texture.
- Freezing for longer storage: If you want to store the cookies for a longer period, you can freeze them. They can keep for up to 6 months.
Kaak Bil Ajwa Recipe
- 3 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp mahlab(optional)
- 1½ tsp sesame seeds
- 1½ tsp black sesame seeds
- 2 tsp aniseeds powder
- 2 tsp fennel powder
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup melted butter
- ¼ cup hand warm milk
- ½ cups hand warm water
- 1 ½ cups (300g) pitted dates
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 2 tsp anise powder
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, mahlab (if using), sesame seeds, nigella seeds, aniseeds powder, fennel powder, sugar, baking powder, instant yeast, and salt. Mix well.
- Gradually add the olive oil and melted butter. Next add in the hand warm milk, and hand warm water to the mixture. Knead the mixture until a smooth and slightly sticky dough forms. If the dough is too dry, add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time. If it's too sticky, add more flour.
- Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap, and let it rest for 45 minutes to1 hour, or until it doubles in size.
- Prepare the date paste: In a food processor, combine the pitted dates, melted butter, anise powder, cardamom powder, and cinnamon. Process until a smooth, pliable paste forms.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Divide the dough into equal-sized portions (approximately 8-10cm). Flatten each portion into a rectangular shape with the palm of your hand or a rolling pin.
- Shape the date paste into thin 2×5 cm logs. Place a date paste log on each flattened dough piece. Fold the dough around the date paste, sealing the edges and forming a smooth log. Connect the two ends of the log to create a bracelet shape, pinching the ends together to seal.
- Arrange the bracelet cookies on the prepared baking sheet, leaving some space between them. Optionally, you can press the top of each cookie with a fork or use a decorative mold to create a pattern.
- Bake the cookies for 15-17 minutes or until they turn light golden brown. Keep an eye on them to avoid over baking.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack.
- Serve Kaak Bil Ajwa with tea or coffee, and enjoy! Store any leftover cookies in an air tight container.