Flaky layered pastry,crackling with every bite, irresistibly decadent no matter what the filling is. Whether you choose cheese, minced beef, chocolate, coconut and raisins, halwa or muhallabieh, this deceivingly simple looking pastry is bound to have you hooked after the first bite.
Fateer or feteer meshaltet is an Egyptian speciality. It dates back to the time of the pharaohs when it was used as an offering for the Gods in Egyptian temples. With time, Feteer meshaltet became an Egyptian delicacy served in religious holidays,weddings and special social occasions.
Watching feteer meshaltet in the making is an experience almost as interesting as eating the end product and though it lasts for a couple of minutes at most,it is an experience you won’t soon forget.Quick, rhythmic theatrical movements, demonstrating great skill that makes the process look super easy. “Attempting the task at home will prove that it is anything but easy!”
I got to watch “the fteer show” for the first time on my honey moon in Cairo and ever since then I have been enchanted by the level of skill it takes to make the super thin layers of dough so perfectly every single time
Our Arabic flavor challenge for December was to make fteer meshaltet from scratch, Maha shared her family’s recipe with us and we were given the freedom to use any filling that we fancy.
I made the recipe twice, plain for one and filled for the other. I served the plain fteer with honey, jam, feta cheese and green olives (I know the combo sounds weird but plain fteer is usually served with salty and sweet sides). For the filled versions, I used a cheese and veggie one and a sweet version with coconut and raisins. All three variants were wonderfully decadent and addictive . My kids’ favorite was the coconut one. For me it was a toss up between the coconut and the cheese. My husband on the other hand went for the plain one. So whether you like it sweet or savory, plain or dressed up, you can play around with the recipe and adapt it to your liking
Egyptian fteer meshaltet
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 1 and 1/2 cups warm water (you may need a little more or less)
1 to 2 cups melted ghee
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup pitted chopped black olives
1/2 green or red pepper cut into slices
Coconut raisin filling
1-2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cream for brushing the top
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a kneading attachment (or a regular bowl if you are doing this by hand) , add the flour and salt
Slowly add the water and knead, until you get a smooth and sticky dough. This type of dough is called ajeen awees which means extra wet dough. You need the dough to be this wet to be able to stretch it later
Knead the dough for 10 minutes in your stand mixer or 15 if you are doing this by hand
Divide the dough into 4 parts, drizzle generously with melted ghee, allow to rest for an hour
On a clean surface, preferably marble drizzle some of the melted ghee and start spreading the dough with your hands gently and slowly until it is really thin
This simple video demonstrates the way I use to stretch the dough (feel free to try the fancy professional dough tossing the guy uses in the video above but be warned, you may find dough stuck to your hair, the ceiling or a number of other locations in your kitchen)
The result is a very thin circle of dough
The folding technique is the same as the one used in matabka recipe. The only difference is that we only use melted ghee between the folds
First fold 1/3 of the dough over the middle 1/3, spread with some melted ghee
Fold the other 1/3 over the center and brush with melted ghee
Again fold 1/3 of the dough over the middle third, brush with melted ghee then fold over the other third.
The result is a square of layered dough
Put this dough square on the side and repeat the steps with the other dough balls.
Now you should have 4 squares of folded layered dough
Each folded square can be baked into one plain fteer.
Just place the folded square into a pan and allow it to rest for 30 minutes
Gently spread the loaf to make it thinner and larger
Bake in a preheated oven (380 F or 190 C) on the central rack
You will need two squares, one below the filling and one above
Start by spreading one of the layers in your baking pan
Then top it with your favorite filling
Then place the other layer on top of it and seal the edges by pressing them together or tucking the top layer under the edges of the base
Spread some cream over the top layer to help it get a beautiful color during baking
Repeat the same steps in the coconut filling only this time use melted ghee to brush the top layer
Bake in a preheated oven (380 F or 190 C) on the central rack until the bottom is golden brown. You will notice that it will puff up during baking.When the bottom is golden turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes until the top is golden as well
The plain fteer is served with honey, jam, feta cheese and green olives (I know the combo sounds weird but plain fteer is usually served with salty and sweet sides)
The savory filled fteer is served with a cup of tea and some sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.
The sweet filled fteer is served on its own or with some cream or jam.