So, I have the habit of describing kadayif dough as a sort of “shredded filo dough.” Totally and absolutely wrong. Historically speaking, the root word for kadayif is arabic for a sort of crepe. Turks call this dough “tel kadayif” or string pancake/crepe.
There is a common misconception that kadayif is the dessert when in reality, it is just the base ingredient to create the warm, ooey gooey Künefe!
Old cookbooks from the 10th century mention kadayif as a remedy prescribed by doctors to help satisfy the Caliph’s hunger. Don’t you wish that today’s doctors prescribed such remedies? Who knows- maybe if doctors prescribed this warm dish more, people would heal faster because their tummies are happy!
Anyway, in one chapter of that cook book, they describe the katayif being layered with nuts, fried, and soaked in syrup..Sound familiar?
It wasn’t until the 13th century in a translation from The Book Of Dishes, is it mentioned that the dough has been thinned, poured onto a spinning hot mirror to create tissue like dough. This tissue thread like dough was then stuffed with white cheese, baked and soaked in syrup or twisted into rose shape with a dollap of sweet cream.
Years ago while visiting Turkey, I took an Ottoman cooking class and learned that the Turkish version of Künefe varies from other regions because the strands of dough are layer in ciruclar tins, filled with a semi-soft cheese, and topped with more strands of dough. I remember that our teacher said that we needed to have double the amount of circular pans because we had to flip them over once the bottom got brown.
As we slid the first round of pans on the bottom of the oven, under the heating elements, I asked them why sometimes this dessert is called Bul Bul Yuvasi or BulBul’s bird nest. Apparently, if cooked correctly, the strands of dough would cook to the reddish color of the Bulbul bird of the Near East. People would even fake the color by soaking some saffron strands in the butter before using it in the dessert.
You know me, always trying to make things bite-sized. SO, how did I transform this beauty? It’s all about the mini-muffin pan, pearlino sized mozzarella balls, and, of course, butter.
- 1 package kataifi dough, defrosted
- 2 sticks butter, melted
- Turkey baster
- Mini mozzerella balls
- Pistachios for garnish
- oven to 350
- 3 cups sugar
- 1.5 cup water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Make syrup and set aside: Bring all ingredients to a boil, lower to simmer for 12 minutes and remove from heat
First, you need to defrost the kataifi dough, start melting some butter and get your turkey baster ready.
Open the bag and remove all the wrapped dough-it looks like dried angel hair pasta.
Laying the dough out horizontally, I take my bread knife and cut the dough in half. Open up your shreds, take a bunch, wrap them around 2 fingers, and slide it down into one of the muffin pockets.
Once you have filled all your cups, drop in a few mozzerella balls, press in some more dough to top.
Suck up some butter with your baster and distribute over all your little bundles.
Bake until golden, ladle syrup over the bundles, use a dessert fork to extract them from the tin and serve.