Kubaneh is Yemeni Jewish bread which tastes almost like croissants and is a tonne easier and more fun to make. Jewish breads are usually excellent but kubaneh, traditionally baked slowly overnight by Yemenite Jews, is outstanding.
Kubaneh - the original croissant
In the beginning there was kubaneh. Heavily buttered pieces of dough stretched film-thin and rolled up with more butter to coat the dough. Tucked into a tin snugly, next to one another, so when they rise they lean out of the container like flowers from a pot. Golden and glossy, with freckles of nigella seeds spattered over the buns, so tearable and shareable you can’t resist them.
Butter fingers, butter dough
Only later came the croissants, Danish pastry, laminated this and that, all much more fancy and hardworking: the cold block of butter needs to be ironed between sheets of dough, then folded and folded and folded. Do we need that kind of hassle when all it takes is buttered fingers, buttered worktop and (admittedly) buttered everything else?
So where is kubaneh from?
Kubaneh is Yemeni Jewish bread. Jewish communities in Yemen who had lived there since ancient times had strong culture and outstanding food, and kubaneh is enough to prove it. But then again it’s no revelation: above all, Jewish people know how to make bread. Bagels, babka, challah, pretzels – if it’s kosher, it’s tasty.
Kubaneh sounds like a difficult project...
I was curious to make kubaneh but also worried as at first it looks massively complicated; so it spend a long while on my to-do list. I needn’t have been afraid: it’s actually the ideal bread to make with your kids; I bet little paws will be just perfect for rolling loooong thin sausages of dough and what with regards to smearing the whole packet of butter all over the kitchen – I need not say more.
How to shape kubaneh rolls
There are two basic rolling techniques as far as I could research: roll up and snail, or fold then roll sideways. I’m relieved to say it doesn’t matter: I tried both and the result was almost identical bar a minor esthetical difference. The fold-then-sideways method is more fiddly (shown below) so go for roll-up-snail.
Butter makes this bread
To be honest what matters the most is the amount of butter you manage to press into the thin film of dough; that’s what makes it deliciously flaky. I’m looking forward to trying out a sweet version and make cinnamon and raisin kubaneh rolls or hide bits of chocolate in each bun’s centre to create a kubaneh de chocolat. Doesn’t it sound like an excellent idea?