This sweet bread called alleeta is one of these old-fashioned treats that are resurfacing in some Beirut bakeries; my aunt recalls how there was always a street cart vendor selling them to kids after school. I did not have a recipe initially, but luckily found it on Facebook through Bass Semaan‘s wall.
INGREDIENTS: makes a dozen, recipe is adapted (I added milk instead of water)
- 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
1. Proof the yeast; sprinkle the yeast and a teaspoon sugar over the warm water; stir to dissolve and place in a warm enclosed place to bubble up. Meanwhile, start mixing the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add the proofed yeast and milk and mix till the dough comes off the sides of the bowl; add more milk or add more flour if the dough ends up too dry or too wet.
2. Transfer to a greased bowl, flip it around to coat it in grease, cover it and place it in a warm place free of draughts for a couple of hours; it can also be waiting in the fridge overnight. The next day, or when the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into 12 small balls. Cover and let them rest for one hour, then roll them out into a circle, about 7″ wide. At this point, you can either brush the circle with the egg yolk (slightly beaten with a fork to loosen it up) and sprinkle with sesame seeds. You can also fill the circle on one side with shredded cheese and enclose it like a pocket. Bake in a preheated 450F oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden and dry. Cool a bit and serve.
NOTE: I filled a portion of these with fig jam, it was delicious. I also used a traditional Lebanese sweet made up of tahini and a tablespoon of carob molasses (mixed-in). Also good.