Ma'arouk Sweet Bread
Ma’arouk (معروك ), is considered a stable bread in Syria/Aleppo especially in Ramadan, in a way that No Table would be complete without it! Ma’arouk bread is a sweet kind of bread, with a beautiful fragrant due to special spices added such as anise,fennel, and mahlab.
Very soft in texture, just like a baby cheeks :) or a soft cloud in the sky!
Beautiful shiny at the end, as it is coated with simple syrup after getting out of the oven.
Ma’arok bread, can also be served at breakfast , or as a snack during the day. It comes in different kinds and shapes, but the traditional kind is the plain one that is served with a cup of tea and some white cheese slices (Nabulsi white cheese) or some Za'atar and olive oil as i did .
Recently,you can find Ma’arouk stuffed with chocolate or honey-fresh cream(ashta) ,and so many other fillings.Whatever the filling was, for me it’s a freshly baked bread alone that smells wonderful but it is the addition of spices that makes the smell irresistible :)
For the recipe, indeed I got it from A Syrian Friend the beautiful “Mona Saboni”, and I have to say that it is a keeper! Easy, simple dough with accurate amounts, in which if you follow steps of preparations I can assure you will get a very delicious soft Ma’rouk bread that you will going to enjoy every bite of it!
So let’s jump in to the recipe,
الوصفة باللغة العربية اضغط هنا
Ma'arouk bread from Syria
For the Dough,
4 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2/3 cup sugar
1-1.5 cups warm milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon Baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground anise
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
1/4 teaspoon ground Mahlab
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
For egg wash : 1 egg yolk+ 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee (Nescafee)+ 3 drops vegetable oil .
For garnish : sesame seeds, nigella seeds.
To make simple syrup :
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Starter : In a bowl, put active dry yeast, 2 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup warm milk, mix ingredients until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap . Keep in a warm place for 1 hour to rise and double in size, bubbles appear on surface.
- In a bowl of stand mixer, add in flour, softened butter, oil and rub ingredients with your hand until sand like mixture forms. Add sugar, powdered milk, baking powder,anise,fennel,mahlab,salt,and vanilla. Then add the starter.
- Mix using a kneading hook or keep kneading with your hands, add in warm milk gradually while kneading tell a soft little-sticky dough is formed. Continue kneading on low -medium speed for 10 minutes
- Place dough over a lightly oiled - surface and shape it into a ball. Transfer the dough in a bowl, covered with with a wet cloth. Keep in a warm place for two hours to rise and double in size.
- To prepare simple syrup : mix all ingredients over medium heat,let boil for 5 minutes then turn heat off,and keep aside.
- Gently deflate the dough by pressing on it with the palm of your hand. Ma'arouk bread had different shapes, here I chose to make in in braided shape (Dfirah)
- Divide dough into three equal pieces. Turn out the dough to a surface.
- Shape the three pieces of dough into ropes, each rope-like. Pinch all three pieces together on one end to secure, then braid the ropes together. Pinch the other end of the ropes to secure the braid. I used drops of water to seal both ends. Transfer the braid into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle some sesame and nigella seeds .
- Cover with a cloth and let it rise for 45 minutes or until double in size. pre-heat your oven to 180 C .
- Bake on the middle rack of oven until the bottoms are golden brown, then turn on the broiler until the tops are golden brown.
- Immediately brush Ma’arouk with warm sugar syrup. Allow Ma’arouk to cool, then serve with tea and white cheese. Or Nutella! , honey and butter slices.
Bon Appétit! :)