Coming from a Middle Eastern household, means that you must hold a very sweet tooth! We have many MANY desserts that are literally drenched in Syrup! Although as sickly as it sounds, I promise you we do it in a very tasty and tasteful way.
Knafah is exactly one of these desserts, which traditionally appears a lot during the holy month of Ramadan. The dessert has been influenced and adapted all across the Middle East and North Africa and has had adaptions through choices of flavours, scents and styles. It is iconically known for being served on a round stainless steel plate but now you are able to find them square, and in mini one bite options as well as cheesecake version, which I will most definitely try for you all soon!
Most recipes add Rose Water but in Oman we usually fill the layers with Cardamom and drench it in a Saffron & Lemon Syrup…. of course I think this version is the best.
I bake mine in a 6inch loose bottom cake tin. Don’t feel the need to find something similar to the traditional tin used. This works just as well. But be careful not to stack it too high. This dessert is kept quite thin as it is super sweet and rich in cheese & cream.
40g Caster Sugar
1 or 2 TSP of Ground Cardamon
500g Knafah Pastry
350g Melt Butter
1 TBSP of Semolina
1 TBSP of Caster Sugar
1 TSP of Cornstarch
350ml of Full Fat Milk
180ml of Whipping Cream
500g of Caster Sugar
Pinch of Saffron
1 Fresh Lemon
Begin with the cream filling. Place all your ingredients into a saucepan and turn the hob onto a high heat.
Once the mixture reaches boiling point, reduce to half and give it a stir and allow it to thicken.
After 10 minutes your cream should have a very thick consistency and will be ready. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool.
In the mean time turn your oven onto 180 degrees and begin to prepare your Knafah pastry, I recommend removing it from the freezer about 15 minutes before you want to use it so that it is still quite firm.
Place in a large bowl and shred the pastry into tiny pieces using your hands.
Then once your butter is melted, pour it over the pastry and use your hands to make sure all the pastry is coated in it. If you feel that some of the pastry is still dry melt some more butter and add.
Once the butter and pastry are fully combined, take your tin and place a thin layer of Knafah pastry around the bottom and up the sides.
Knafah's are not very thick so make sure you don't take the pastry too high up the sides.
Press the pastry firmly down with your hands or use something flat an round to help with it.
Once your first layer is applied you can then add in around 2-3 spoonfuls of the cream filing to fill the bottom.
After the cream you will need to apply a layer of your cheese. For your cheese, make sure the mozzarella is shredded and then combine and mix in with the ricotta. You will have a very thick gloopy texture when they both mixed.
Again apply a layer of cheese that is not very thick but covers the layer underneath.
Repeat the cream and cheese steps an extra time, to give you four even layers and then finish by applying your final layer of Knafah pastry.
Press it the pastry firmly down and once you are happy with it, place in the oven, for around 30 minutes or until it is golden brown on the top.
While the Knafah is baking, prepare your syrup, by combining all the ingredients in a sauce pan and leaving to boil. Do not stir for 10 minutes and till it has reached boiling point other it will affect the syrup from becoming thick.
Once the syrup has thickened turn it to low for a further 10 minutes and then leave to cool.
As soon as you take your Knafah out of the oven, immediately pour over the syrup. Not all but a good amount so that it can evenly soak through to the bottom. Then leave to cool slightly so that you are able to flip it out of the tin.
Once taken out pour a little more syrup over it and place your desired decoration. I used Pistachios and dried rose petals as I love the taste of them and the colour contrast.
Make sure to serve hot and leave some syrup for those with an extra sweet tooth!