Makes 18 servings

1 lb shredded phyllo dough (a/k/a kataifi, available at your neighborhood Middle Eastern grocery)
1 cup (2 sticks) of melted butter (I prefer unsalted butter, but either will do)
2 cups chopped walnuts (about 10 oz)
1½ cup + 3 Tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ cup of water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Special equipment

13 x 9 x 2 inch pan
pastry brush
a heavy saucepan


In all likelihood, you bought frozen kadaïf dough; let it defrost for an hour before you begin to work.

Divide the kadaïf in half. Coat one portion in ¾ cup of butter by sloshing it around in a mixing bowl, and put the other to the side. Place the buttered portion evenly on the bottom of a buttered 13 x 9" pan. Next, make the filling by stirring together the walnuts, cinnamon and 3 Tablespoons sugar. Scatter evenly on top of the first layer of dough. Top with remaining kadaïf dough, and spread the remaining butter (it's oh-so-much easier to use a pastry brush here) onto the dry top layer. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 45 minutes.

While it's baking, make a medium sugar syrup: combine 1½ cups sugar with ¾ cup of water and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a heavy saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Or, if you want to dirty your candy thermometer, simmer the syrup until the thermometer reads 220°. But there's no need to be so precise: 15 minutes more/less works fine. When both the syrup and the kadaïf have cooled, slowly pour the syrup onto the pastry, making certain every square inch gets some syrup.

Serve at room temperature, preferably with coffee. Keeps for days, but it'll disappear quickly.


All the flavour of baklava and none of the work! Simplified from a family recipe.


No self-respecting Middle Eastern family would make this in a 13 x 9" pan. The recipe is invariably doubled or tripled and made on a baking sheet (yes, the kind with a mere 1 inch lip), which is how you'll find it sold at your local Middle Eastern grocery. If you do make a vast amount, be sure to adjust your cooking time. The top should be just lightly golden, never brown.

Or, if you have an entire day to waste, you can make individual-size roll-ups: a handful of buttered dough, a couple teaspoons of fillings, a handful of unbuttered dough on top. Roll. Place in baking pan. Repeat ad infinitum.

First served: Lughnasad 1995
Go back to the Menu
Last modified: © December 1995