Atayef (Kataif), the ultimate Arabic pancake

Chef in disguise atayef

Ramadan Mubarak to all my wonderful readers who observe Ramadan :)

Today is the second day of the month of Ramadan.I wrote a little about Ramadan last year and I am hoping to explain more this year through the upcoming series of posts. I will be sharing popular recipes made in the month of Ramadan, family favorites, associated with childhood memories.You can get a sneak peak of the recipes in this album on my facebook page. If you have any special requests, send me an email or leave me a comment and I will do my best to include them. I will also be taking you on a tour in the old city markets and we will go back to Jerash to finish our visit to the old Roman city. Stay tuned :)

What I love about Ramadan is that it is a chance to slow down, step back and review the past year. On a personal and a spiritual level. It is also the month to reconnect with family and friends. Gathering for Iftar after a long day, sharing the experience and the lessons somehow brings everyone closer together.

Fasting is a school of discipline present in most religions and cultures. In Islam fasting by definition means to abstain, abstain from food and drink but it doesn’t stop there. You have to abstain from everything that is bad. Abstain from lying, gossip and using profanity.One way to look at it is that in fasting what comes out of your mouth is just as important as what goes in. Keep in mind though, that your mouth is not the only part of you that is fasting, the whole of you is. Your hands are fasting, you can’t do harm, steal or hurt others. Your eyes are fasting, you are not allowed to watch anything inappropriate. If you think about it, fasting  is meant to impact the way you behave , it aims to build and develop a better person.

Almond Atayef

If there is one recipe that says Ramadan in my house then it has to be atayef. As a kid mum only made atayef in Ramadan. It was a treat reserved for this month. I fondly remember going to buy atayef with dad, waiting in line chatting with other kids about fasting, watching the baker pour the atayef with great skill and speed and then going home to help mum stuff them, sneaking a few to eat uncooked at Iftar time.

Atayef (kataif or قطايف) are thin and lacy stuffed Arabic pancakes. What sets these pancakes apart is that they are cooked only on one side, the other side is velvety because it is covered with bubbles, this allows the flavors of the filling to permeate the atayef.  There are two types of atayef, regular  and mini atayef (also known as atayef asafiri). The regular ones are usually stuffed with a cheese or nut filling,  then they are sealed and baked or fried. Regular atayef are then served  drizzled with simple syrup. The mini atayef also known as are served without cooking. They are usually filled with cream then they are dipped in ground pistachios and served with a drizzle of syrup. You can still make the atayef without stuffing them. Serve them the way you would serve pancakes, with butter and your favorite syrup. Served that way they make for wonderful vegan pancakes that are quick and easy to prepare.

If you have never tried atayef, biting into one of the regular atayef , you first get the crisp and crunchy exterior, then comes the filling. With cheese, the melted cheesy center, sweetened by the syrup with hints of mastic is the perfect balance to the crunchy exterior. With nut filled atayef, it is a joy to experience how the different textures play off each other, the nutty toasted almonds or walnuts vs. the crisp exterior. Add cinnamon and cardamom and drizzle of rosewater syrup and you have a dessert that you won’t soon forget.

The atayef asafiri on the other hand are soft and velvety filled with a luscious cream. The cream is then topped with ground pistachios for a touch of color and nuttiness. A drizzle of syrup adds the sweetness and the signature rosewater hint of Arabic sweets

atayef for Ramadan

The recipe I am sharing with you today is the result of more than a dozen trials. I have tried so many recipes for the dough that were too thick, too yeasty, didn’t seal, did not cook properly, you name it!!  None of them worked! but I learned something from each one and eventually found the perfect balance of ingredients. To get successful atayef ,however,you need more than a great recipe, the technique is just as important. I have highlighted these technical tips in the recipe and the notes. I hope this will help you get great atayef the first time and every time.

Walnut atayef

Atayef dough/batter recipe

Makes 30 medium sized atayef. You can half the recipe

You use the same dough to make regular atayef and atayef asafiri

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup semolina

1/2 teaspoon yeast

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons orange blossom water (optional)

3 cups of warm water (you may need 1/4 to 1/2 cup more- see notes)

You can prepare the atayef mixture by placing all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisking them to insure that they are properly mixed.

Add the water and orange blossom water and whisk thoroughly until you get a thin homogeneous mix. You can also place the wet and dry ingredients in the blender and blend until you get a thin mix.

step 1

Allow the batter to rest for  10 minutes

Heat a non-stick pan

For small sized atayef, atayef asaferi, pour 1 tablespoon or 2 teaspoons of the batter. For medium sized atayef pour 2 tablespoons and for large atayef pour 1/4 cup of the batter.

The atayef should start to bubble around the edges.

bubbles 1

The bubbles should then spread to cover the entire surface.If your atayef are not covered with bubbles then this means your batter is too thick and you need to add more water. Do so in 1/4 cup additions, whisk and try again

This is what the atayef would look like if the mixture is too thick

fail

On the other hand this is what the atayef should look like if you have the right consistency

bubbles 2

Bubbles 3

Wait until the atayef are done, you know this by watching for the surface to stop being shiny. The time depends on the size of the atayef, the small ones take about a minute, the big ones 2-3 minutes

bubbles4

Take the atayed off the heat, place them on a clean kitchen towel and fold the towel over them to cover them. This step is very important as it will soften the atayef making them easier to stuff and seal. It will also prevent them from drying. If your atayef become dry you will not be able to stuff them because they will not seal.

cover atayef

Continue pouring the atayef until you finish the entire amount.

cooked atayef@chef in disguise

When your atayef cool you can either stuff them immediately or you can store them in a plastic bag that is well sealed or closed for a couple of hours and stuff them later. I would advice that you don’t keep them un-stuffed for more than a couple of hours because if you do they will dry out and sealing them will become problematic.

To store them in a plastic bag  arrange them so that the top bubbly surface touches that of another atayef and then layer them in the bag.

Atayef filling suggestions

For the regular atayef

Cheese filling

cheese stuffed atayef

2 cups nabulsi cheese

1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

1 teaspoon rose water (optional)

Cut the cheese into cubes and soak it  in water the night before, this will soften it and reduce the salt content. You can use ricotta  as a replacement

almonds

Almond filling

2 cups toasted almonds, chopped or crushed

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

To toast the almonds spread them on a baking sheet and place them in a preheated oven (200 C) for 5-7 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the almonds in the oven to cool

almonds crushed

Place the almonds in a plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin or any other heavy object. This way the almonds will retain texture and won’t be ground too finely

Add the sugar, cinnamon and cardamom and mix to combine

None traditional but still yummy suggestions

Sauteed apples with sugar and cinnamon

Nutella

Nutella with bananas and hazelnuts

Atayef asaferi stuffing

Clotted cream or thick cream like this one, you can make a replacement using this recipe

Top the cream with one of the following

Ground pistachios or your choice of ground nuts

Strawberry syrup

Cherry syrup

Toasted coconut

A sprinkle  of cinnamon or cardamom

Candied orange peel or your choice of candied fruit

 

How to stuff atayef

The large atayef (regular atayef)

To stuff the atayef place 1-2 teaspoons of your desired filling and fold the atayef so that it forms a half moon and start sealing the edges by pressing them between your thumb and index. Make sure you do not over stuff them because that may cause them to open or burst during freezing or cooking.

stuffing atayef

Arrange your atayef on a flat plate or baking sheet and freeze them. Once frozen place them in a bag and keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months.

freeze

 

Atayef asaferi

atayef asafiri

Fold the atayef into a half circle and seal it only half way as you can see in the picture

asaferi

With a small spoon, fill the opening with clotted cream

atayef asafiri filling

Dip it in ground pistachios or your choice of nuts.

dip

Arrange the atayef in a serving plate with some rosewater syrup, strawberry syrup or cherry syrup. Atayef asafiri are not baked or fried and they can not be frozen. You can store them in the fridge for up to 2 days.

atayef asafiri presentation

Sugar syrup

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon rose water or orange blossom water (optional)

Place the sugar, water and lemon juice in a pot,bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes

Turn off the heat and add the rosewater if using.

You can use other flavoring agents to replace the rosewater like cinnamon, cardamom or orange peel

Cooking the large stuffed atayef

You can either fry the large atayef or bake them

To fry them: place 1 cm of oil in a pan and heat it

Place the atayef in the pan and fry until the edges are golden brown and crisp

Flip the atayef over and cook until the opposite side is golden brown

Take the atayef out of the oil and dunk them in the simple syrup and then take them out and arrange them on serving plate. (Do not dunk them for more than a few seconds or else they will become soft and soggy)

To bake the atayef

Brush the atayef with melted butter or vegetable oil

Arrange them on a baking sheet

Bake in a preheated oven at 200 C until golden and crisp

Drizzle them with sugar syrup

عجينه القطايف

 المقادير المطلوبة لعمل 30 حبه قطايف حجم وسط

نصف كوب سميد ناعم

  اثنين كوب طحين

اثنين ملعقه كبيره زيت نباتي

اثنين ملعقه كبيره سكر

اثنين ملعقه كبيره ماء زهر

نصف  ملعقه صغيره خميرة

 ملعقه صغيره بيكنغ باودر

  ثلاث اكواب ماء  دافئ و ممكن تحتاجي اكتر حسب نوعية الطحين

الطريقه:

تخلط المواد الجافة مع بعضها

نخلط الماء مع الماء زهر و تضاف للمواد الجافه و تحرك باستخدام مضرب سلك او على الخلاط

العجينة يجب ان تكون رخوة القوام  اي صبها سهل

اتركي العجين ترتاح مده 10 دقائق

سخني مقلاه تيفال و بعد ذلك خففي النار بين العالي و الوسط

 ابدئي بالصب

لعمل العصافيري  صبي مقدار ملعقه  كبيره

و اذا كانت للحشي و القلي فاستخدمي 1/4 كوب من العجين لكل حبه قطايف (انا استخدم الاكواب المعياريه)

بعد ان تضعيها في المقلاه ستظهر الفقاقيع على الوجه , ستبدأ الفقاقيع من الاطراف ثم ستغطي كل الوجه

لو لاحظتي ان الفقاقيع قليله عددا او كبيره جدا فهذا يعني ان خليطك ثقيل القوام. اضيفي ربع كوب ماء و اخفقي و كرري المحاوله

عندما تلاحظين ان الوجه بدا ينشف (لم يعد لامعا و ابيض فاتح )و من الاسفل اصبح اللون ذهبي ارفعي القطايف و ضعيها على فوطه نظيفه و غطيها و هذه الخطوه مهمه جدا كي لا تجف القطايف, كما ان تغطيتها تجعلها اطرى و اسهل للحشي

بامكانك حشي القطايف فورا او وضعهها بكيس بلاستيكي و احكام اغلاقه و حشيها بعد ساعه او ساعتين و ان كنت افضل حشيها فورا

 بعد حشي القطايف بامكانك قليها او شويها

 الكميه المتبقيه  دون قلي او شوي رتبيها على صحن و غلفيها بالنايلون و ضعيها  في الفريزر

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