m’Busbes (Ka’Ik)

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    20

Appears in

Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad and Tobago

Sweet Hands

By Ramin Ganeshram

Published 2018

  • About

Mrs. Yemen Nahous serves her family this slightly sweet holiday treat during their breaks from work at her Creole restaurant on Charlotte Street, Port of Spain, Trinidad. Mrs. Nahous, who immigrated to Trinidad from Syria nearly thirty years ago, refers to these cakes as “m’busbes” as do her extended Trinidad family, but they are more commonly known in Lebanon and elsewhere as “ka’ik.” M’busbes are traditionally pressed into an aleb, a wooden mold that creates an intricate design in the surface before baking, but you can create a design by pricking the dough with a fork before slipping them into the oven. While m’busbes are usually served plain, Mrs. Nahous often fills hers with ground dates.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water (110°F)
  • cups granulated sugar plus ¼ teaspoon
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground mahlab*
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small cubes
  • ½ cup cold milk, or more as needed
  • ½ pound pitted dates (optional)

Glaze

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

Method

  1. Proof the yeast by sprinkling it over the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the ¼ teaspoon sugar on top of the yeast and set aside until it is bubbly, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Whisk the cups sugar, flour, salt, and mahlab together in a large bowl and add the butter. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles small pea-size balls.
  3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture. Then add the milk a little at a time while using a fork to bring the dough together into a stiff ball. Add more or less milk as needed to achieve this consistency. Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and set aside for 40 minutes.
  4. While the dough is resting make the date filling if using: Place the pitted dates in a food processor and pulse into a thick paste. Set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Flour a clean work surface and cut the dough ball into 20 equal size pieces. Roll these into balls and set aside.
  6. If stuffing the m’busbes with dates, make a wide depression in a dough ball with your thumb and place about 1 tablespoon of the date paste inside. Pinch the dough ball tightly shut. Repeat with all the dough balls.
  7. Using a rolling pin gently roll each ball into a circle about ¼ inch thick. If you have stuffed the m’busbes be sure to roll carefully so that the filling does not burst from the seams. You might find it easier to just gently pat the stuffed dough balls into circles about 4 inches wide.
  8. Prick the m’busbes all over with a fork and place on a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Make a glaze: Stir together the sugar, honey, and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan and heat until a syrup forms, about 2 minutes. Brush the warm buns with the glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

* Mahlab or ground cherry pit is available at Middle Eastern and gourmet specialty stores or online.