Moroccans are well known for the delicate and complex aromas and flavours in their pastries which come in a variety of textures and sweetness levels - Corne de Gazelle, Ghriba, Fakkas, Briwat, Mhancha, Chebakia, Different Almond Sweets, Meskouta, Sellou, Mazgan, etc...., but these Kaâks, with their different varieties all over the Kingdom, have been perhaps overlooked, and they are rarely mentioned as the highlight of Moroccan baking or published in a cook book or even in a food blog. I' m afraid they are fading into obscurity!
This traditional recipe was passed down from our family's friend to my dear mother, who passed it down to me, and my sisters, and all the aunties etc... This recipe has been a favourite of our family for so many years. It has a mostly infallible list of ingredients that includes the most popular seeds in Moroccan Cuisine and these are great ingredients that in combination are utterly lovely! The dough for these Kaâks is quite different from standard cookie dough in that it is less sugary, not too salty or greasy either. When served, they look so elegant for any occasion or simply for an afternoon tea. The combination of all those seeds add a lovely crunch and one bite is an explosion of flavour in your mouth!
Kaâk Wejdi is so easy to make, and the only planning it takes is to check if you have got all the ingredients on hand before you start. However, I do believe that there is not one (1) recipe that can accommodate everyone's tastes (especially cookies and desserts in general), so you can use less sugar, or change the proportion of seeds, or experiment with grinding a variety of seeds together to get a range of flavour that suits you, you can omit a few seeds if you like, or substitute some for new ingredients such as nuts, almonds, peanuts, walnuts etc.... In general in Morocco these Kaâks are very commonly made with anise seeds which is a favoured taste by most Moroccans. They are now made in dozens of flavours and some prefer to include few different ingredients to modernize the traditional version, such as crème fraîche, or sour crème, or buttermilk or milk etc...
The term Kaâk is pronouced as [K U 3 K], the number "3" stands for the Arabic letter "ع" , this is why the second "â" in the word [Kaâk] has got an "accent circonflexe ou accent chapeau". Originally Kaâk was made as a long-shelf-life food or snack, carried by several camel travellers, along with dates, dried figs, roasted chickpeas and almonds. Today, Kaâk is simply a delicious "Dwaz Atay", and a popular accompaniment to fresh mint tea! You say "Kaâk" or "Fekkas", We say "Mgarml" [M G U R M L], which means CRUNCHY! In fact Moroccans use the term "Kaâk or Fekkas" to refer to any type of crunchy cookie. Kaâks are mostly round Shaped Bracelet except for "K3ik3at" = كعيكعات . There are different types of Kaâk and strangely enough they are named after few cities :
1-Kaâk Wejdi (City Oujda = كَعْكْ وْجْدِي ): These are also called "Sunny-Shaped Biscuits or "Brioche d'Oujda" and this is the version I'm posting today. The recipe as you can notice include both yeast and baking powder as "Shebakia Halwa", whereas the other Moroccan Kaâk version do not.
2-Kaâk D'Essaouira or Swiri (City d'Essaouira = كَعْكْ صْوِيرِي ): This is an egg free version and it includes less seeds. This Kaâk has got some diagonal scores, and it is very popular throughout the Kingdom. Some say it's the best! My mother once told me that this Kaâk's recipe is originally from the Moroccan Jews.
3-Kaâk Rbatti (City Rabat = كَعْكْ رْباطِي ): Believe me, these Kaâks make a lot of people happy! They are the most attractive and the most expensive version of all Kaâks. They are stuffed with a delicate home-made almond paste before being shaped into circle, then they are beautifully and skilfully decorated. When served, they add an incredible touch of sophistication to your table. These are most enjoyable to me!
4-Kaâk Massfiwi or Sfiwi (City of Safi = كَعْكْ سْفِوي ): It has some similarities to the Kaâk Swiri, except that this version requires a special machine to make the circle shape along with some special patterns on top. Some prefer to use simply a knife or fork to score this Kaâk. They are sold by street vendors everywhere and you can also find them in big markets or Souks.
5-K3ik3at = كعيكعات or Krichlat [9richlat] d'Achoura (قْريشْلاتْ عاشوراء ) : This term is a diminutive word of "Kaâk" to express the small size of this version. These are special Kaâks, made to give to family, relatives and friends on the day of "3achoura" (Ashura or Achoura = عاشوراء), along with dates,dried figs, almonds and roasted chickpeas.
These Kaâks are also commonly found in different countries as Tunisia, Lybia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Somalia, Yemen, Turkey etc... The term "Kaâk" can refer, in these countries, either to a type of bread or brioche or crunchy cookie, or soft stuffed cookies, etc... The shape can be either round, square, oval, or otherwise.
Enjoy this Kaâk Wejdi with Moroccan tea, watching this lovely video of Reggada Folklore, which is a traditional dance, very popular in Oujda City and several neighbouring regions!
I'm submitting this post to Susan's Yeastspotting, a blog devoted to yeast bread. Please check it out!
K. El Mary, Mamatkamal.