Kaak—cookies with a sesame anise glaze

Kaak—cookies with a sesame anise glaze

a plate full of kaak sits on a table covered in a lace tablecloth

These cookies resemble old-fashioned Dutch cookies in more than name only. Syrians, too, like the Dutch, eat their kaak with coffee or tea. They are usually sold ready-made at specialty shops in Syria. Anas Atassi’s grandmother somehow discovered an amazing cookie shop that had their store front along the highway running past the airport and connecting Damascus to Homs. Every time a family member flew in to that airport, a couple kilos of cookies were ready for pick-up, as ordered by his grandmother beforehand. This treat gives him a warm, homey, winter feeling.

Makes 12–15


70ml (3½ tbsp) milk
65g (2¼ oz) sugar
60 ml (2½ tablespoons) vegetable oil
1 egg
155g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
90g (½ cup) semolina
50g cornstarch (cornflour)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp anise seeds

For the crust
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vinegar
25g (1 oz) sesame seeds
1 tsp anise seeds


In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, sugar, oil, and egg into a homogeneous, smooth mixture.

In another bowl, combine the flour, semolina, cornstarch, salt, vanilla bean paste, baking powder, and anise seed. Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the dry ingredients until it is completely incorporated. The dough should be soft and sticky. Cover and set aside for one hour.

After the dough has rested, it should have a smooth consistency and should not feel sticky any more.

To form the cookies, divide the dough into apricot-sized balls and roll them into little sausages of 20cm (8in) long. Join the ends to form rings of about 5cm (2in) in diameter.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

Whisk the egg, milk, and vinegar together and pour into a shallow dish. Mix the sesame and anise seeds in another dish. Dip the cookie base into the egg mixture and then into the seed mixture. Arrange the kaak with the seed side up and bake on a baking tray prepared with baking paper in the oven for 20–30 minutes, until golden-brown.

After baking, cool the cookies for at least 30 minutes before dipping them into a cup of tea!

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