Craving the buttery, sweet and nutty goodness of paklava, but not wanting to go through all the work? Try this Kadayif recipe that uses kataifi shredded phyllo dough instead of sheets of phyllo dough for a simpler process and a fun and pretty texture.
A similar dessert is called Knafeh, which is also made with shredded phyllo dough but is filled with cheese instead of nuts and cinnamon. Knafeh can sometimes refer to the paklava-like version instead of the cheese-filled version, but it seems to be less commonly done.
What ingredients do I need for Kadayif?
- Kataifi phyllo dough: Not to be confused with the name of the dessert itself, kataifi is a type of phyllo dough that is shredded and available for purchase in the freezer section of your local Armenian or Mediterranean market. (If you're lucky, your local grocery store may carry it too.) I recommend placing a package of frozen kataifi in the refrigerator the night before you are making Kadayif, so it has a chance to defrost. Then, place the package of kataifi on the counter an hour before using it, so that it can come to room temperature and be easier to work with.
- Nuts: For this recipe, I used a combination of walnuts, pecans and almonds, but you could use a single type of nut. Walnuts and pistachios are commonly used.
- Sugar Syrup: I used a combination of sugar, honey, lemon juice, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon to make the sugar syrup, just as my cousin does for her paklava recipe.
- Butter: Melt salted or unsalted butter in a pan, but be careful not to let it burn.
How do I make Kadayif?
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9"x13" pyrex dish with butter. Then, make the sugar syrup so it can cool while you are assembling the Kadayif.
Start by heating water in a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in sugar and honey and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer until it thickens. Then turn off the heat and stir in lemon juice, vanilla extract and one teaspoon of cinnamon. Plan on the syrup cooking for approximately 20 minutes.
Chop the nuts by hand or in a food processor to a medium fine consistency. Sprinkle a tablespoon of cinnamon on the nuts and toss. In a separate saucepan, melt two cubes of butter (1 cup).
Unravel the kataifi dough and divide it into two sections. Take one section and spread it out evenly in the buttered casserole dish. Keep a damp towel over the top of the second section of dough to prevent it from drying out while you are working with the first.
Using a pastry brush, apply a half of the melted butter to the top of the kataifi. Then sprinkle the chopped nuts and cinnamon mixture evenly over this layer.
Spread the second layer of kataifi over the chopped nuts.
Then brush the remaining butter over the top. After you have coated the top with butter, cut through all layers crosswise, into 8 columns. Then cut diagonally into approximately 5 rows. If you are using a different size dish, as I did in these pictures, do your best to cut a diamond shape pattern into the Kadayif layers.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until Kadayif is golden brown. When the Kadayif is done baking, pour the sugar syrup over the top of the Kadayif. It will sizzle and crisp up the layers even more.
Let cool before serving and keep loosely covered (to allow circulation and prevent sogginess) at room temperature for 3-4 days.
- 1 16- oz. Kataifi phyllo dough
- 3 cups chopped nuts
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ cup water
- 1 ½ cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup honey
- 1 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- The night before, place kataifi phyllo dough in the refrigerator to defrost.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Make the sugar syrup: Heat water in a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in sugar and honey and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer until it thickens. Then turn off heat and stir in lemon juice, vanilla extract and one teaspoon of cinnamon. Plan on the syrup cooking for approximately 20 minutes. When it's done, set aside to cool.
- Grease the bottom and sides of an 11"x14" casserole dish with butter.
- Chop nuts to a medium fine consistency or pulse in a food processor. Sift with 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon.
- In a separate saucepan, melt two cubes of butter (1 cup).
- Open package of defrosted kataifi phyllo dough and gently unravel. Separate the strands into 2 piles. Place one pile in the bottom of the casserole dish and save the other pile for the top layer. With a pastry brush, apply a layer of melted butter to the top of the kataifi. Then sprinkle the chopped nuts and cinnamon evenly over this layer.
- Add the top layer of kataifi phyllo dough and spread evenly over the chopped nuts. Generously brush more melted butter over the top layer.
- Bake about 40 minutes or until Kadayif is golden brown. When Kadayif is done baking, pour the cooled sugar syrup over the top of the Kadayif. It will sizzle and crisp up the layers even more.
- Let cool before serving and keep loosely covered (to allow circulation and prevent sogginess) at room temperature for 3-4 days.