Making Kataifi – My Favorite Greek Pastry

Kataifi is by far my favorite Greek pastry. It has a similar taste to Baklava, but uses a dough that is the consistency of angel hair instead of the traditional phyllo. The method I’m going to show you here with regard to assembling the dessert is technically cheating. I’ll explain how in just one second, but first, here is the what the dough looks like.

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My mother is my personal distributor of the kataifi dough, but you can buy it at a specialty market if you don’t have the Greek mother hook up. As you can see, the dough comes in about a 3 inch wide strip and is a large bundle of thin strands.

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If we were going to make this the traditional way, we would spread out the kataifi dough into one long strip and start separating out small bundles of dough that would work with individually. Doing it that way is an incredibly amount of work and while the presentation is lovely, the resulting flavor is no different than what I’m going to show you below. So, without further ado, here’s what you’ll need:

2 sticks of butter, melted
3 cups chopped walnuts
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 package of Kataifi phyllo
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves

Simple Syrup:
2.5 cups sugar
3 cups water
2 Tbs. honey
squeeze of lemon

We’re going to begin by making the simple syrup. Go ahead and add the sugar and water to a saucepan, bring it to a rolling simmer and let it cook for 15 minutes. Once 15 minutes have passed, mix in the 2 Tbs. of honey and the squeeze of lemon juice and set the simple syrup aside while we assemble and cook the kataifi.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the chopped nuts, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside. Then go ahead and butter a glass dish.

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Next, spread out 1/4 of the kataifi phyllo on the bottom of the dish and drizzle it liberally with butter.

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Spoon 1/3 of the nut mixture over the kataifi phyllo.

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Repeat this process two more times by adding the next 1/4 of the Kataifi phyllo, drizzle it liberally again with butter and then add another 1/3 of the nut mixture. Finally, add the last 1/4 of the kataifi dough and drizzle the rest of the butter over the top. It will seem like a lot of butter, but go ahead and add it all.

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We’re going to bake the kataifi in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Once you’ve taken it out of the oven, go ahead and spoon the fully cooled simple syrup over the top and let it sit until the kataifi cools completely. Then, take a very sharp knife and cut individual sized portions and get ready to fall in love with this dessert.

Oh and pretend that there’s a picture of the finished dessert here. I completely forgot to take one as I devoured the pan over the next 4 days.

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