Middle Eastern stuffed pancakes are the perfect Ramadan dessert for nuts and cheese lovers!
Ramadan Mubarak to all my Muslim sisters and brothers worldwide! As this blessed month comes to an end, I pray that your Ramadan has been full of barakah and blessings.
Ramadan is my favorite time of the year and I wanted to share a delicious dessert commonly eaten and loved throughout the Levantine countries during this blessed month.
When I was younger and lived in Kuwait, my father would bring home a different kind of dessert each night of Ramadan, from Knafeh to Halaweet Smeed. While she made Mamoul at home, my mother never tried to make the Katayef batter at home because it was easy to find in stores. She would fill and bake them at home. When she moved to the United States, she had to learn how to make her perfect batter, which wasn’t available in stores, so that we could experience the Ramadan tradition here. My family loves Katayef, so I learned how to make them from my beloved mother. I am so glad that I make them every year and share them with friends. Katayef, whether filled with cheese or nuts, is loved by all.
The process is definitely worth the delicious outcome! I’ve provided step-by-step instructions with pictures in hopes that it will better explain the detailed process.
[All the measurements are included in the full recipe below the pictures.]
Preparing the batter!
Dry ingredients for batter: Wet ingredients for batter:
Sift the semolina and flour together Stir yeast, sugar, warm water & let rise
Add baking powder and salt, & mix
Add the dry ingredients and start the mixer. Slowing add warm water to the the dry ingredients while mixing. Then, add the yeast mixture while mixing.
Begin to add the dry ingredients slowly as everything mixes together. Raise mixer level and mix the batter until it reaches a thick consistency.
[If you do not have a mixture, not to worry! In a large bowl, add warm water slowly to the dry ingredients while whisking. Then add the yeast mixture and whisk. Using a blender, blend one third of the mixture at a time for about 2 minutes. Then, place back into a large bowl and whisk again by hand so that all thirds are incorporated into one.]
Cover the batter for 30 minutes.
Let’s begin preparing the filling!
Our walnut lovers! Our cheese lovers!
Crush the walnuts in a food processor for a few seconds, keeping the pieces large.
Add the sugar and cinnamon and mix thoroughly.
The cheese is simpler to make. Shred the cheese and you’re set to go!
The fillings are now ready!
Back to the batter!
Uncover the batter and whisk thoroughly to remove any bubbles. Turn the griddle on 200º F
Use a ladle or item with a spout to pour small pancake-like circles onto the griddle. Do not turn over the Katayef! Unlike pancakes, you only cook one side. Wait until small bubbles begin to form across the entire Katayef.
I like to add nigella seeds, sprinkling it into the batter by hand. It gives the Katayef a nice crunch and it has a slight fennel or anise flavor.
Remove and place onto dry towel, without forming layers, and cover with towel so they don’t dry out.
Time to fill the Katayef!
Place each Katayef on palm of hand.
Pinch together the edges of one half of the Katayef.
Place 1 tsp of filling [push the filling in if it’s cheese]. Don’t overfill them. Make sure no filling touches the edges or it will be difficult to close. Overfilling will cause them to open while baking.
Pinch together the rest of the Katayef making sure it is completely closed.
Don’t they look beautifully delicious!
Extra filling can be saved in the refrigerator for next batch or other desserts.
Extra uncooked Katayef can be kept in the freezer: place flat on tray, freeze overnight, store in tightly sealed bags until you want to eat them. To eat, thaw for 30 minutes and then bake as instructed below.
Time to bake the Katayef!
In the Middle East, you will see that they fry the Katayef in deep oil. I prefer to bake them like my mother taught me.
Preheat oven to 375º F. Place Katayef flat on a pan. Brush both sides of Katayef with melted butter. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Take out of oven and dip in a bowl containing the sweet syrup or drizzle it. [Syrup recipe is below and can be found in Knafeh recipe.] Garnish with coconut or pistachios.
Your sweet Middle Eastern pancakes are ready!
4 cups of warm water[DRY INGREDIENTS]
2 cups finely ground semolina
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt[WET INGREDIENTS]
1 heaping tbsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup warm water
8 cups raw walnuts
¾ cup sugar
Heaping 1 tbsp cinnamon
2 12 oz. Ackawi cheese [whole milk cheese]
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 tbs lemon juice
Preparing the Batter:
- Sift the semolina and flour together
- Add the dry ingredients [baking powder and salt] and mix
- Stir wet ingredients [yeast, sugar, water] together and let sit until it rises
- In a mixer, add the dry ingredients and turn on mixer to level 4
- Begin to add the water slowly as everything mixes together
- Add the wet ingredient mixture
- Raise the mixing level and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated together
- Mix the batter until it reaches a thick consistency
- Cover the batter for 30 minutes
- Prepare the filling [see below]
- Uncover the batter and whisk thoroughly to remove any bubbles
- Turn the griddle on 200º F
- Use a ladle or item with a spout to pour small pancake-like circles onto the griddle [as shown in picture]
- Do not turn over the Katayef! Unlike pancakes, you only cook one side.
- Wait until small bubbles begin to form across the entire Katayef
- Optional: add nigella seeds while bubbles are forming
- Remove and place onto dry towel, without forming layers, and cover with towel so they don’t dry out
Preparing the Walnut Filling:
- Crush the walnuts in a food processor for a few seconds
- [You want the pieces to stay large]
- Add the sugar and cinnamon and mix thoroughly
Preparing the Cheese Filling:
- Shred the cheese
Filling the Katayef [as shown in the pictures]:
- Place each Katayef on palm of hand
- Pinch together the edges of one half of the Katayef
- Place 1 tsp of filling [push the filling in if it’s cheese]
- Make sure no filling touches the edges or it will be difficult to close
- Pinch together the rest of the Katayef making sure it is completely closed
Preparing the syrup:
- In a medium sized saucepan on high heat, combine your sugar and water
- Continue stirring until the syrup boils
- Once it boils, turn down the heat to low and add the lemon juice
- Keep stirring until the sugar completely dissolves
- The syrup should be transparent.
Baking the Katayef*:
- Preheat oven to 375º F
- Place flat on pan
- Brush both sides of Katayef with melted butter (not oil)
- Bake for 20 minutes
- Take out of oven and dip in a bowl containing the sweet syrup**
- Garnish with coconut or pistachios
*In the Middle East, you will see that they fry the Katayef in deep oil. I prefer to bake them like my mother taught me.
**You can also drizzle the syrup onto the Katayef
Extra filling can be saved in the refrigerator for next batch or other desserts
Extra uncooked Katayef can be kept in the freezer: place flat on tray, freeze overnight, store in tightly sealed bags until you want to eat them. To eat, thaw for 30 minutes and then bake as instructed above.
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