Today I’m sharing Syrian Ramadan Sweet Bread, or Ma’arouk.
It’s funny because I only heard about this bread when I visited my family in Jordan earlier this year. This being my first Ramadan in the Middle East, and because my mother never made it, I didn’t try this bread until I baked it for the first time, and boy do I feel like I was missing out!
Sweet, pillowy layers of carby goodness that are scented with anise and mahlab. This brioche-like bread is often stuffed with dates, chocolate or cheese and brushed with simple syrup when it comes out of the oven. Don’t forget the sesame and black Nigella seeds! They add another dimension that takes this bread over the top.
The dough can be found in many different shapes. The two disks on top of each other seems to be the most traditional and the most common. It can also be braided, spiraled, twisted and so much more.
Ever since I first heard of this bread, I seem to see it everywhere. It’s often available at the Middle Eastern bakery during Ramadan, but it’s perfect for breakfast or a snack anytime of year.
I hope you give this recipe a try! If you do, don’t forget to put it in the comments and tag @omayahatassi and #omayahcooks on Instagram. I love to see your creations!
Syrian Ramadan Sweet Bread (Ma'arouk)
This sweet, pillowy bread is often stuffed with dates, white cheese or chocolate spread. It's usually eaten during Ramadan but would be great for breakfast or a snack any time of year.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 17-20 minutes
3 c flour
1 c milk plus 1 Tbsp
7 g instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp mahlab
1 tsp anise powder
2 eggs, divided
1 tsp salt
50 g plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
100 g or 1/3 c date paste
1/4 c chocolate spread
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp black seeds
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
- Combine flour, 1 c milk, yeast, sugar, mahlab, anise powder, 1 egg, salt and 50 g butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix on medium-low until dough forms. Cover with plastic and place in a dark, warm place, like a turned off oven, for 2 hours or until it doubles in size.
- Combine date paste with 2 Tbsp of butter. Lay dough out onto a work surface and form an even ball. Divide into 3 even pieces. Roll one piece out into a circle until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread date paste on top. Make another circle the same size and lay on top of the date paste. Seal the edges.
- Take the third piece of dough and divide into 3 even pieces. Roll them out long, thin and even. Attach them at one end and braid all the way until the end, press tightly. Cover both round and braided pieces with plastic and rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Make simple syrup by combining 1 c sugar with 1 c water in a medium saucepan. Stir constantly over high heat until sugar dissolves and it comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Uncover braed. Combine 1 egg with 1 Tbsp of milk and brush onto the bread. Sprinkle with sesame and black seeds. Bake one piece of bread at a time until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. You may need to place it under the broiler for the last couple of minutes to darken it.
- Once the bread comes out of the oven, brush with warm syrup. Allow to cool slightly. For the braided bread, slice it open and spread with chocolate. Enjoy!