Nut-Filled Shredded Pastry
As the name suggests, this pastry is often prepared for Id celebrations, and also shows up on the Ramadan table. Known to Mevlana as qadaif, it is made of a shredded wheat dough that is difficult to make at home; it's worth the effort to seek it out at a Mediterranean grocery store. It looks very elaborate, but with the prepared dough, is also fairly easy to make.
Total time: 4-½+ hours
Cooking time: 2-2-½ hours
Cooling: 2 hours
1-½ cup water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. rosewater
Nut filling1-½ cups finely chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or pistachios
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 lb. kunafeh pastry 12 oz. clarified butter or ghee
You will need two large baking pans of similar size and shape (7"x11" or thereabouts, or 10" diameter) one pan for the kunafeh, and one pan to place on top of the kunafeh to press it after it is cooked.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
To make the syrup, stir together the water, sugar and lemon juice in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in the rosewater and set aside to cool.
Thaw out the kunafeh dough right before you plan to use it. Put it into a bowl and gently pull apart the strands, being careful not to break them. You will end up with a fluffy pile that looks like excelsior. Scatter 1 cup of the melted butter over the dough and mix it in thoroughly with your hands. Divide the dough in half. Spread one half of the dough over the bottom of the larger of the two baking pans.
Combine the nuts, sugar and cinnamon, scatter over the dough in the pan, and press down firmly. Spread the remaining half of the dough evenly over the filling. Tuck the top layer of dough down into the edges of the pan. Spoon the remaining ½ cup of butter evenly over the top.
Bake on the center rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 300°F you may wish to open the oven door slightly to speed the cooling and avoid overbaking. Continue to bake for another hour to an hour and a half, until the kunafeh is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and immediately pour the cold syrup evenly over the top. Cut a piece of wax paper or parchment to fit over the kunafeh, and place on top of it the second baking pan. Put one or two heavy books into the pan as a weight to compact the kunafeh. Allow to cool for several hours, then cut into 1-½-2" squares or lozenge shapes.
from Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook