I know KNEFEH is an anchor to any invitation, whether at a friend’s house, a wedding or a restaurant, “I’m not leaving until the KNEFEH is out”, is usually how it goes.
With variants from Egypt, Turkey and Palestine the flavor profile of a Lebanese KNEFEH follows:
A smooth but textured top that’s crispy, golden brown. When you spoon into it, you should hear a whisper of a soft crack.
The inside comes in two parts, the first is contortionist cheese, stringing, twisting and oozing as you separate each piece from the whole. The second is a full-bodied, custard base.
And to finish, splashes of angelic rosewater infused syrup.
KNEFEH is traditionally shaped like an extra large pizza cut into rectangles. When KNEFEH is served at dinner, I’m the first to approach requesting a slice along the edges because I enjoy the crunchy parts most.
Longing to have a KNEFEH serving with an endless ring of crispy, I created KNEFEH tartlets. And what a glorious solution.
This is your dinner game-plan. Prepare the KNEFEH up to step 12 (see below), when your guests start with their main meals, place the KNEFEH in the oven. By the time they’re ready for dessert, the KNEFEH will be ready to contortion and delight.
Dessert with a prep time of 30 minutes and cook time of 75 minutes.
1 large loaf of white sliced bread
400 g of butter
500 g shredded mozzarella cheese
¾ cup semolina (Click for ingredient detail)
4 cups water
2 cups powdered milk
1 ½ cup white granulated sugar
2 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon
3 table spoons rose water (Click for ingredient detail)
Pre heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Remove the crust from the loaf of white sliced bread.
Cut each sliced-bread into four equal parts.
Cut the butter into cubes.
Place the cut bread and butter into a food processor.
Process until they form a dough like mixture.
Large Traditional Knefeh: Press all the dough into a large round baking pan making sure the dough fully covers the base of the pan. Pressing tightly.
Tartlet Knefeh: Pinch off a squash ball size of dough and press into the tartlets making sure to work up the edges. Pressing tightly.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes let the crust rest and cool on the stovetop. Keep the oven on.
Add a layer of mozzarella cheese over the cooked crust.
In a medium sized deep saucepan add the water, powdered milk and semolina and stir constantly. When the mixture starts to thicken, add the sugar and keep stirring until the early signs of boiling.
Pour the cooked semolina mixture over the cooked crust and mozzarella and flatten the surface.
Place in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes or until the edges start pulling away from the pan.
Cool for 15 minutes. Flip the knefeh crust side up onto a serving dish.
In a small deep saucepan, add the water, sugar, lemon juice and rose water.
Heat until the syrup boils.
Consistency should be thin.
Leave to cool and serve on top of the cooked knefeh.
Serve the warm KNEFEH dressed with spoonfuls of syrup.
Photography, Recipe, Foody Styling, Prop Styling by: TALA SOUBRA
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