Katayef bi Ashta

Katayef bi Ashta

People often tell me that they’re not good at baking because it requires a lot of precision. They sometimes ask me what recipes they should start experimenting with and I usually recommend cookies, brownies, or one bowl cake recipes that don’t have a lot of steps. I’m adding these traditional Lebanese Katayef delicacies to the repertoire: They are half-cooked pancakes filled with Ashta (Arabic word for clotted cream) or in this case ricotta cheese flavored with orange blossom water. It’s a classic and versatile dessert especially during Ramadan because you can fill them with any sort of flavored cheese. I also love that the sugar syrup is served on the side so you can control the level of sweetness per serving.

Makes 15 Katayef (1 Tbsp batter)

Sugar Syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
a few drops of lemon
1 tsp rose water
1 tsp orange blossom water

To make the sugar syrup, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow the syrup to boil for 3 minutes without stirring. Add the lemon juice and continue boiling for 10 minutes until it reaches a light, syrupy consistency that coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the rose flower and orange blossom water. Set aside to cool down completely and store in the fridge (this step can be made a couple of days in advance).

Katayef (pancakes)
 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semolina
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk

250g Ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp Orange Blossom Syrup
Ground pistachios

1. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine the water and milk in a separate small bowl then gradually pour into the dry mixture while whisking to prevent lumps from forming.

2. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 min on the kitchen counter and place two damp kitchen towels near the stove.

3. Preheat a non-stick pan over medium heat, and test the batter by pouring 1 tablespoon on the skillet. The surface of the Katayef should bubble a lot (Note: if it doesn’t bubble then adjust the batter by adding more water a tablespoon at a time to make it thinner). Cook one side of the pancake until golden brown and the surface dries out completely.

4. Transfer to the damp towel and cover to prevent it from drying out. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

5. Mix the ricotta cheese with the orange blossom water and place a tablespoon of the filling on each pancake. Pinch the edges of to seal the Katayef on one side only. Sprinkle the top of the filled Katayef with ground pistachios and serve with sugar syrup on the side.

Note: Katayef can also be filled with nuts, sealed completely (half-moon shape) and then deep-fried until golden brown or baked in the oven at 400°F (200°C). 

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