Now I don’t claim to be a Greek or Turkish pastry queen. Certainly I’m no Peter Minakis from Kalofagas.ca – not even close. However, one of my friends served Ekmek Kataifi a few weeks ago and I loved it and couldn’t wait to make my own. Both Greece and Turkey claim this pastry but I really don’t care – it’s just wonderful.
The Turks created the idea by soaking a bread pudding with the syrup but the Greeks turned it into a masterpiece by placing it on kataifi pastry and topping it with custard and cream.
My darling John doesn’t have a sweet tooth in his head but will occasionally try things and will always eat a piece of birthday cake just to be kind so I wasn’t expecting much when I asked if he’d like a piece. Not only did he have a small piece, he went back for two more. Folks, I think you should try this one.
The recipe isn’t difficult but it’s got a few steps that take a wee while to put all together. Don’t you like wee while? When I lived in New Zealand everyone used that phrase. I knew it would come in handy and today it has. You have to make the base, make the syrup, make the custard, cool everything, put them together, whip the cream and decorate it. Nothing takes a long time, but there are several steps.
It’s got a kataifi pastry base. Kataifi looks a little like shredded wheat that’s not been trimmed, however that’s not what it’s made of. Amazingly it’s poured onto a hot spinning wheel. Have a look at this video. I think it’s very cool how they do it.
The kataifi pastry comes in the frozen food section of the supermarket – you don’t need to get a wheel and start spinning. 🙂 Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and this is what it looks like when it’s still in the bag.
Before you can use it, you must tease out all the strands of pastry. It comes pretty jam packed together. Then the recipe calls for placing it at the bottom of a loaf pan then brushing it with butter. You know I can’t leave anything alone, so I melted the butter and drizzled it over the pastry in the bowl and then worked the butter into the strands with my fingers so every one was coated. I’m not sure this is required because you later drizzle the whole thing with a ton of syrup. (a ton might be a slight exaggeration)Then bake it in the oven at 200°C or 400°F for about 10 minutes until it’s golden brown.
Once the pastry is cooling, it’s time to make the syrup. Let the pastry cool and add the hot syrup over the cooled pastry. The syrup is really simple to make. Just mix the ingredients together and boil for 8 minutes or so until it begins to thicken and then pour over the cool pastry. It smelled really good.
Now set the pastry aside to cool and get on with making the custard. Custard is really easy and I don’t know why so many people are afraid to make it. Yeah you can curdle the eggs but you’ll only do that once and then you’ll know what you did wrong.
This custard is made from eggs, semolina, cornflour (corn starch), sugar and vanilla that are whisked together and then mixed with boiling milk that’s been infused with mastic (mastika, masticha). Mastic is an aromatic spice which comes from the harvested resin of Mastic trees from the Greek island Chios. They’re also called tears.
The recipe calls for ground mastic and the method is to freeze them and then put them in a plastic bag and bash them with a rolling pin. I put mine in my thermomix and whizzed them.
Put the ground mastic into the milk and bring to the boil. While whisking the egg mixture, put one ladle of hot milk into the mix. Don’t stop whisking as this is the only tricky bit to making custard. Add another ladle and whisk and the and then a third. Mix well and put the egg mixture into the milk. Return to the heat and stir constantly until thickened. You want this thick because it needs to stand up on the pastry.
Once it’s thick add the coconut and set aside to cool. Once cool pour it over the pastry and spread evenly. Leave at room temperature until fully cool and then refrigerate for at least four hours. This is not a quick dessert but it’s a very special one. If John liked it, it’s got to be good.
When it’s been in the refrigerator for the four hours (or overnight), remove and take it out of the pan. If you’ve done your baking paper well, it will come right out. Peel the paper off and plate your pastry. Don’t be alarmed – frankly it looks pretty crap at this point. It looks lumpy because of the coconut and the color is well.. not appetizing. (I’m only being honest) Doesn’t matter. It’s time to decorate it.
Chop the pistachios and finally, whip the cream until it’s stiff enough to pipe and you’re nearly done.
Then sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and you’re ready to serve. Honestly, the combination of the crunchy pastry dripping in syrup, the cool, wonderfully flavored custard and the light creamy topping makes it a dessert fit for a king. (or queen who might or might not be celebrating her jubiliee)
- 2 Cups Water
- 2 Cups Sugar
- Rind of ½ lemon
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 190 grams Kataifi pastry
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted.
- 2½ cups whole milk
- ½ tsp ground mastic (also known as mastika or tears)
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup fine semolina flour
- 1 tsp cornflour
- ¼ cup caster (superfine) sugar
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cream stabilizer or powdered milk
- 3 tsp icing sugar or to taste
- 1 cup chopped unsalted pistachios for garnish
- Heat oven to 200C
- Grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper
- Tease pastry apart and press into the bottom of pan
- Brush with melted butter and place in oven til golden brown, about 10 minutes
- Place sugar, water and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Reduce head to medium and boil approximately 8 minutes until thick.
- Remove from the heat and add lemon juice and lemon rind.
- Pour hot syrup over cooled pastry base and set aside to cool
- Place milk and mastic into a saucepan and heat until boiling.
- In a large bowl add eggs, semolina, cornflour, sugar and vanilla and whisk well.
- Temper the eggs by adding 3 ladles of hot milk into the eggs, whisking all the time.
- Pour the tempered egg mixture into the milk and return to the heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Add coconut and stir.
- Remove from the heat and place cling film on the surface of the custard and set aside to cool.
- Pour cooled custard over cooled pastry and spread evenly. Leave at room temperature until fully cool and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Invert onto a plate and then invert again so the custard is on top and the pastry is on the bottom.
- In a clean bowl add cream, icing sugar and vanilla and whip until thick enough to pipe
- Place cream in an icing bag with a star tip and pipe rosettes to decorate.
- Garnish with chopped pistachios.
This is amazing! I’ve seen bloggers use the Kataifi pastry and seen it soaked with the syrup to make sweet pastries, but I’ve never seen it made like this with heavenly layers of custard and whipped cream! Dare I say “Yowza!!!”? Fabulous! I know that my own non-sweet tooth would try a plate of this!
I think you’d like this Jamie. BTW, I LOVE your post about Julia Child and those recipes are devine!
Cannot think of a better word – amazing recipe! I doubt I would ever be able to find Kataifi pastry, but I know I’ve had a dessert using it back in Sao Paulo at a Greek restaurant.
I can buy it from the frozen food section at a couple of places near me and I live in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it’s more popular in Australia? Can’t imagine we have anything that isn’t in the states. 🙂
You had me at the picture. Oh MY! I want. Now. I want for my birthday.
But as you know I don’t bake. And I am also extremely lazy. And I don’t have all those machines you have. So, alas, I shall never make this or taste it. 🙁
Unless you want to come to the states and make me one for me on my birthday in July.
I promise if I come to the states anytime soon I will cook whatever you want 🙂
Maureen, you rocked the Ekmek Kataifi and it looks fab! A wee time to make but not difficult. OPA!
LOL Peter, I tried to sneak this under the radar. I could never compete with your Greek food. 🙂 You are the MASTER!
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Maureen, how absolutely delicious! Aren’t these kinds of desserts simple awesome! Well done@
You had me at pistachios! DELICIOUS!
balvinder ( Neetu) says
Gorgeous! I did not know that Turks make vermicelli on a wheel. I have seen my mother in law pushing the wheat and semolina dough thru a professional juicer kind of machine and then it is hung to dry. This sounds like a yummy dessert and I am adding it to my to do list.
balvinder ( Neetu) says
I think my comment did not went through.
This is a Gorgeous looking sweet. I did not know that Turks make vermicelli on a wheel. I have seen my mother in law pushing the wheat and semolina dough thru a vermicelli machine, it looked like a professional juicer machine. Then the fine strands of vermicelli were hung or spread to dry. This dessert has all my favorite ingredients and I am adding it to my to do list.
Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook says
Looks so good. I love custard. I love katafi. I’d love this, it looks fantastic!
My Man's Belly says
I have SO got to try this! I’ve got a couple of markets that sell this pastry and now I know what to do with it. Thanks for sharing this recipe. This looks like a good one to torment Craig with. Maybe I’ll share it…maybe I won’t. 😉
I’ve never had these pastry before. I’m sure I’d like it though. Not sure if we have anywhere around here that carries it, but I will have to be on the lookout though. Anything with custard and pistachios is a win-win in my book. Wee while, that’s cute. Hope you had a great weekend.
Wow! I have never heard of such a thing! It looks divine, and delicious. I love custard desserts…mmmmm yum! Your pictures made me drool.
I have a Filipino friend that makes foods from all over the world and she featured this on her blog too–it’s something I really want to try, and now I know where to get mastic–I found it at a lebanese restaurant that also has a little market attached. You made it look so good and described the taste beautifully. Bucket list!
Laura @ Family Spice says
Oh, you have tremendous patience! I have some that pastry in my freezer and I have been trying to figure out what to do with it. This really looks amazing!
The Squishy Monster says
I’m not too familiar with this, but obviously, it’s a must try! YUM!!
Jenn and Seth (@HomeSkilletCook) says
wow, this looks amazing! i just love desserts with custard! great post Maureen!
Catalina @ Cake with Love says
OMG this looks like a deliciois dessert, so decadent!!! Amazing!
Choc Chip Uru says
I love how perfectly you have made this hectic dessert – sounds and looks totally worth it 😀
Choc Chip Uru
oh. my. goodness. This looks amazing!
I love kataifi!
Rhonda (@diningalone) says
wow I am impressed, seriously!! I don’t think I could get past eating all those shelled pistachios to even start this recipe 🙂
balvinder ( Neetu) says
I did not know Turks used a kind of wheel to make vermicelli. I have seen my mother in law pushing wheat and semolina dough through a vermicelli machine and then the fine strands are hung or spread to dry. We never made some thing like this but yes we do make sweet pudding out of vermicelli.
Your dessert has some of my favorite ingredients and I am adding this to my to do list.
I love this! Pistachios are definitely a favorite of mine.
Simply Life says
oh wow! I’ve never had anything like this! Looks so good!
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
This is incredible – what a creation! I had never heard of this and honestly can’t conceive of getting all these components together in the near future, but I am very impressed 🙂
Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels says
This is such a cool dessert and I would probably eat the entire thing all by myself. haha. I love anything with pistachios, yum!! 🙂
Kim Bee says
This is so cool. You know I have a serious weakness of pistachios. I’m eating some as I write this.
balvinder ( Neetu) says
We use vermicelli in making sweet pudding but this one is really a cool desert. It has everything my favorite. I am adding this to my to do list.
What a unique and beautiful dessert! I am going to have to give this a try. Thank you for sharing with me, and for your kind words on my blog! I’m excited to be back around. I hope you are having a good week full of friends and laughter (and good food, of course!)
Maureen! What an amazing and unique recipe!!! That lead photo has certainly grabbed my attention and I am just fascinated by the ingredients and the process here. I am totally unfamiliar with kataifi and mastic. And I wonder where I can find these because I really would love to try and replicate this recipe. This looks like one of those fabulous and interesting recipes you find for The Daring Baker’s challenges. It’s just beautiful! : )
Malou | Skip to Malou says
i’ve never heard of Ekmek Kataifi but i would like to have a serving of this. The pastry reminds me of our sotanghon noodles but its’ not right? Well the layers of goodness is just so tempting… oh my where will I get a piece of this to get my mind off it 🙂
Malou, you could come to Australia and I could make this for you. 🙂
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
This looks like heaven Maureen! Look at all of those delicious layers and if John has seconds then it must be good! 😀
I know I was right when I decided to stalk your website…this is DIVINE!!!!!
I don’t know if I have the guts to take it all up and actually make this dessert, but trust me, I am already thinking ‘where would I get kataifi and mastic’…….
When I started my blog, I was a bit apologetic about all the tough ingredients that my recipes seemed to call for….but I am thrilled to see that most people actually love to experiment and come up with such creative and delectable fare.
Minnie, thanks for hte lovely comment. Any spice shop would have mastic or mastika and specialty shops or Greek shops should carry frozen kataifi. It’s fairly common here.
Thanks so much Maureen. I have written them down. I searched for them in my local grocery store…..wasn’t there. I wasn’t surprised though – it’s the budget items that come from there anyway.
I am going to try Whole Foods and see. Next would be hunting for the Greek stores….Boston should have some of them.
“Wee while” is a terrific phrase! Never heard it before — but you can bet I’ll use it sometime (giving you proper credit, of course!). And this dessert looks pretty interesting. I like eating desserts, but I’m not that big on making them (but my wife enjoys it, so we’ve got a good division of labor going on in our kitchen). I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten Ekmek Kataifi, although I know I’ve seen it on restaurant menus. I’ve been missing out! I’m going to have to change that. 😉 Good post – thanks.
Jen @ Savory SImple says
Such interesting ingredients! This sounds wonderful.
What a truly awe inspiring dessert! I have eaten Ekmek Katiafi, but none that tasted as good at this looks. This would be a fabulous dessert to serve after grilling some souvlaki…and guests would go wild. Thanks for the idea!
Before last week I’d never eaten this either but the syrupy crunchy base and the cool stiff custard topped with the cream and pistachios – really really good. 🙂
Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious says
Oh yum! This is something that I’d love to have for dessert, Maureen. Thanks for sharing 🙂 Sorry I have been MIA so I have missed all of your delightful posts 🙁
Wonderful to see you out and about, Yudith! I’ve missed you. 🙂
Barb @ Profiteroles & Ponytails says
This looks spectacular…really! I love katifi and in fact you’ve inspired me to make a dish with katifi I haven’t made in some time. We have a little middle eastern shop around the corner that sells it. I’ll have to see if they sell mastic as well. I’ve never heard of this dish, but I’d love to try it.
We can’t always buy kataifi here but I love it. I’ve always made the baklava type pastry with kataifi. However, I have a new one for you if you can buy it easily. Take a green prawn or shrimp and clean it and marinate it in your favorite marinade for a little while. Then wrap strands of kataifi around each prawn and fry it. The pastry goes all light brown and REALLY crispy. Serve with a dipping sauce. Devine!
This looks definitely worth a ‘wee little bit’ of time. 🙂
apparently wee comes from the Scottish people who settled in New Zealand and brought the wee while with them. Lovely to see you, Courtney!
Okay this looks extremely unique, and extremely delicious:-) Love that it is topped with all the delicious pistachios:-) Hugs, Terra
Terra, the pistachios are what sold me too 🙂
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
Wow, the video is amazing. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life! You made a fabulous dessert that I wasn’t familiar before but now I do thanks to your post. I’d love love love to have a bite of this for my experience. 🙂
Nami, if you think that dessert is cool, I’m impressed 🙂
Baker Street says
Oh the layers of custard and whipped cream sound heavenly! I’ve never really tried Kataifi pastry but it sounds sinfully delicious! Great recipe, Maureen! 🙂
As a baker of renown, you must try this one day, Anuradha!
Hotly Spiced says
What a gorgeous dessert! I love the look of this. As soon as I saw that first image I knew I wanted some! And thanks so much for showing me something new. I have never heard of this dessert. I really must get out more! xx
With all that’s going on at your house, Charlie, I don’t see how you get out at all. 🙂
Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama says
Holy smokes! Fancy Schmancy dessert… I have never heard of this… but it looks to die for! Honestly though… it kind of intimidates me! Can you move back to New England and make it for me?
New England in the summer sounds pretty good from here in the winter 🙂 I’d certainly make this for you.
haven’t tasted this yet! i hope the greek restos we have here offers this 🙂
I’ve not seen it in a restaurant but maybe you’ll be lucky!
Fantastic recipe and post! I use kataifi to make kanafeh, but never knew how the pastry was made – that video is so cool! I’m bookmarking this for a day when Hubby deserves a treat. 😉
Hi Ruby, now I need to go look up kanafeh. Something new to make!
Middle eastern desserts ALWAYS make me swoon! I need to find an excuse to make this!
Joanne, I never need an excuse to cook 🙂 Lovely to see you.
Trevor Sis. Boom. says
The egyptians and persians do something very similar to this but I think you are right. The Greeks have turned into sublime art. Wow. THis is just fantastic!
Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Greece? This dessert really gets around 🙂
Wow, you’ve introduced me to something new and so so decadent!Never heard of this dessert before and its look so so delicious and rich!Love the way you’ve decorated it :)Have to look for
CJ at Food Stories says
I have never seen or heard of Ekmek Kataifi before … thanks for enlightening me 🙂
Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking says
Oh this looks so delicious!
That looks amazing, Maureen!
‘Ekmek’ sounds Turkish while ‘kataifi’ sounds Greek 😀
Julie M. says
Now THAT’s a dessert. I can’t almost taste it through the computer. Amazing!
Parsley Sage says
Holy crap. ANYTHING topped with pistachios is a winner in my book. Wowsa. It does look like loads of work though, perhaps a little more than a ‘wee while’ 😉 But it absolutely looks worth it!
Sofie Dittmann @thegermanfoodie says
I’ve had this before in Turkey, and it’s one of the most divine desserts ever invented. And Greek and Turkish cooking are so closely interrelated – even tho nobody wants to hear that much – who cares who invented what, as long as it tastes good… 🙂
Katherine Martinelli says
I love this!! And you’ve reminded me that I bought mastic a few weeks ago and totally forgot about it.
What an incredible dessert! So many layers but it totally looks worth it. Thanks for sharing, have a great weekend!
Wow looks amazing love Greek food
Kitchen Butterfly says
This is the first time I see Mastic – it looks like glass beads/crystals! And I love kataifi pastry – it turns a wonderful golden deliciousness once baked. Yum…..yum…yum
Kitchen Belleicious says
this is beyond cool! Like I am a tad upset i haven’t made it or at the least tried it! YUM!
I looks absolutely amazing. It reminds me of a Middle Eastern dessert that I had once in a small coffee shop in Jerusalem. I have to find Kataifi. I have not been able to find it around here.
This looks incredible!! I love having something spectacular to make when it comes to dessert and this would be a real star! I will have to ask my daughter if she had this dessert when she traveled in Turkey and Greece a couple years ago.
I really doubt I will find the ingredients here in my little city at the foot of the rockies but perhaps next time I go to Denver I can get Kataifi and mastic.
It is funny, we are using “mastic” on our walls right now to hang the tiles. I wonder if they are at all related 🙂
A Canadian Foodie says
First – who would ever think of making pastry like that??? Amazing video.
Second – I will be making this for sure. My husband loves Baklava and the base has that same flavour, but the creamy custard and cream on top would be amazing.
Third – what do the “tears” taste like? Are they there for flavour, or a thickening agent? What if I cannot find them here?
Fourth – Why didn’t you make the custard in your Thermomix? I love making all custards in mine… maybe you did, but didn’t write about it?
Fifth – loved the read – and I am SO SO into this recipe!
Hello Valerie! Sorry that I come with a help so late, but I just discovered this blog couple days ago. You were asking about ‘mastic’.. it has pine or cedar like scent/flavor (quite strong that’s why you use just tiny bit of it) also gives cream translucent shiny like appearance. You should be able to find it in oriental, Greek, and Arab groceries. When I make Kenefeh/Kunefa- arabic name (made from kataifi pastry), semolina/corn flour cream or alternatively cheese filling, goes between layers of kataifi pastry 🙂 and is baked all together. Happy baking 🙂
This is not ekmek kataifi ekmek is turkish bread and its not pudding either
Made this yesterday and it was ORGASMIC 🙂
Thanks so much for letting me know. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It must be time for me to make it again. 🙂
This looks really fabulous and I cant wait to make it for a Greek dinner party.
Do you have any tips for making the custard in a thermomix?
I’d probably use the custard in the basic book and add the mastic tears and cook until it’s quite firm. I might give that a try. 🙂
Maureen I am terribly impatient and was having a trial run of this dessert, before the dinner party next week. I have had a few failures with the tmx, but I gave it ago, used your recipe and chucked it all in the thermomix and it worked out fine. I did a couple of extra minutes more to make it quite firm.
Gorgeous dessert, we can’t wait to have it next weekend too!
Michelle! that’s wonderful! Isn’t it a lovely dessert. Creamy, sort of crunchy, soft – just what you want for dessert. 🙂
Very nice recipe!!!
Thanks a lot, Nadia and I appreciate your visit a lot!
The mastic comes from the Greek island of Chios. It looks like frankincense. You can chew as gum in its natural, unprocessed state. Now they process it and put in sugar to make it sweet and other ingredients to make it softer. It is good for the digestive system and they now make face and body creams, soaps and other health products. Scientists have planted the mastic tree in other areas of the World but no matic is formed. The mastic tears are the tears of the martyred Saint Isidoros in the town that he was martyred in for believing in Jesus Christ.. you can order mastic poducts on line.
Thanks so much for this wonderful bit of information about mastic, Phyllis!
Mahrukh Fatimah says
hi, this is NOT , i repeat NOT ekmek keydafi. its a traditional CYPRUS dessert. hence the greek and turkish claim . the real ekmek keydafi is a biscuit type thing drenched and softened with sugar syrup and has clotted cream in the middle! the end result is it tastes like soft sponge cake in sugar water syrup with a clotted cream middle. eaten cold. – i live in NORTH cyprus.
Greek Pastries says
I looks absolutely amazing. It reminds me of a Middle Eastern dessert that I had once in a small coffee shop in Jerusalem.
Joseph Neveu says
I tasted ekmek in a restaurant in Dartmouth Nova-Scotia, I loved it. Where can I find it in Quebec?
I would think you’d find it in specialty grocery stores in the freezer department where dough is kept.
Love this dessert, thanks for giving us the original recipe..Mastic is fantastic, that’s the only gum we chewed as children, adding some white wax to make it soft..truly helps digestion:):)
Yildirim Oyman says
This is not Ekmek KATAIFI. Ekmek is a Turkish word and it means “Bread” so it should be Turkish. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekmek_kaday%C4%B1f%C4%B1