Kataïfi: Almond and Walnut Pastry in Syrup

Kataïfi: Almond and Walnut Pastry in Syrup

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  • Total: 90 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Servings: 24 servings

Kataïfi, alongside baklava, is one of the most popular Greek desserts and is made with a special pastry dough of thin thread-like strands, similar to angel hair pasta. Kataïfi is assembled by placing filling at one end and then rolling up the dough—when baked, the finished product looks like shredded wheat. Like many Greek dessert recipes, a simple syrup is poured over after baking. This not only adds a sweet finish but also acts as a preservative, allowing the pastry to last longer.

With today's commercially packaged dough, you'll find kataïfi fairly easy to make. The dough comes as a long strip, about 3 inches wide, making it easy to fill and roll-up. This is a great recipe for beginners and can be adjusted to include different tastes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 thin strip lemon peel
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup walnuts (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 cup almonds (coarsely ground)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg white (lightly beaten)
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1 pound kataïfi dough (defrosted per package instructions)
  • 1/2 pound butter (melted)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Kataïfi: Almond and Walnut Pastry in Syrup ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. To make the syrup, heat the water in a saucepan over low heat. Add 2 cups of sugar and stir to dissolve.

    water and sugar in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add the lemon juice, lemon peel, and whole cloves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

    lemon juice, lemon peel, and whole cloves added to sugar syrup in the saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Stir in the honey. Remove from the heat.

    honey added to the syrup in the saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


  5. Place a fine-mesh colander over a bowl and strain the syrup. Set aside to cool.

    strain the syrup through a fine-mesh colander into a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. In a mixing bowl, combine the walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, ground clove, egg white, brandy, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar for the filling and blend well with a wooden spoon.

    walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, ground clove, egg white, brandy, and sugar in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Lay the long strip of dough out on a clean work surface and divide it into 18 to 24 pieces, gently spreading the strands out a bit if they clump together. Each piece will be used to create an individual kataïfi roll. Keep the unused dough covered with a piece of waxed paper topped with a damp towel to keep it from drying out.

    Lay the long strip of dough out on a clean work surface

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Lightly butter a 9x13 baking dish.

    greased baking dish

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Brush a strip of dough with melted butter.

    Brush a strip of dough with melted butter

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  10. Place a tablespoon of the filling at one end of the strip and roll it up into a cylinder, tucking in any stray pieces of dough. Take care to roll the pastry tightly so that the filling is securely enclosed. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

    roll the dough around the filling

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  11. Place the rolls seam-side down in the prepared baking dish, close together but not squashed, and brush well with remaining butter. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and crispy looking.

    Kataïfi: Almond and Walnut Pastry in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  12. Remove from the oven, pour the cooled syrup over the pastry, and drape the pan with a clean towel. Let cool about 3 to 4 hours as it absorbs the syrup.

    Kataïfi: Almond and Walnut Pastry in Syrup in a baking dish with a towel on top

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck