I remember being so excited for Ramadan when I was a kid because it always meant crispy, fresh, deep-fried qatayef (atayef), or stuffed pancakes. And when I learned how to make them, it stopped being a Ramadan dessert because they're my go-to whenever I have special guests over. It's always a crowd-pleaser. There's just something so satisfying about the crispy deep-fried pancake drizzled with sweet syrup and stuffed with salty melted cheese, or the crunchy cinnamon-y walnut stuffing. I can never choose a favorite.
This qatayef recipe is relatively simple and will give you perfectly crispy qatayef every time. Just follow the steps and you'll be a pro in no time.
Ingredients You'll Need:
- Semolina: You can use either course or fine semolina for this recipe, but it's one of the key ingredients.
- Flour: All-purpose flour is the best option, but I've also used wholewheat flour before and got the same results. Stay away from courser flours like wholemeal and corn meal, though.
- Sugar: You'll need a little bit of white sugar for the qatayef batter itself, some for the walnut stuffing, and some more for the simple syrup. I like to keep the simple syrup on the side instead of soaking the qatayef in it after frying. This way each person can decide how sweet they prefer theirs.
- Yeast: This recipe only needs about a teaspoon of instant yeast. It's what makes the qatayef dough soft and moist.
- Baking Powder: This ingredient helps the dough puff up a little bit while cooking.
- Salt: A pinch of table salt or sea salt to go in the batter.
- Rosewater: This part is optional. I like to add 2-3 tablespoons of rosewater to my qatayef batter because I think it gives it a special flowery aftertaste. If you don't like rosewater, you can just skip it.
- Orange Blossom Water: The secret ingredient to Arab simple syrup. A tablespoon goes a long way, and will leave your syrup tasting fresh.
- Lemon Juice: Always use fresh lemon juice, and not the fake-tasting store-bought kind. It will help thicken your syrup and intensify the flavor.
- Walnuts: One of the stuffing options in this recipe is cinnamon walnuts. You'll need to crush them with the sugar and cinnamon to make sure they're fully coated.
- Cinnamon: The more cinnamon, the better. It complements the walnuts so nicely.
- Cheese: Traditionally, you'd want to use Nabulsi or Akkawi cheese. But since both are really hard to find here in Cairo, I use the slightly saltier shelal cheese. You could also use fresh mozzarella.
- Oil: Use your favorite frying oil.
You will also need:
- Non-stick skillet or pan
- Deep pan or pot for frying
Tips and Tricks
- Prepare the syrup ahead of time. The syrup in this recipe is the same simple syrup I use for my basbousa, as well as almost any Arabic dessert. The best time to prepare the syrup is while the batter is resting, this way you'll be time-efficient, and you'll give the syrup enough time to cool and thicken before you pour it onto your qatayef.
- Let the batter rest. Since the batter has both yeast and semolina in it, you're going to have to be patient and let it rest for at least 45 minutes, but preferably around an hour. This gives time for the yeast to activate, which gives qatayef their signature bubbly texture, and for the semolina to absorb liquid and soften.
- Use a measuring cup or ice cream scoop to pour the batter. To get perfectly-sized atayef every time, I use a ¼ cup measuring cup to pour the silky atayef pancake batter onto the nonstick pan. This will also help get perfectly round pancakes that will fold easily.
- Cover cooked pancakes with a towel. This makes sure your qatayef pancakes don't dry out and stay soft and flexible for when you stuff them.
- Don't stack cooked pancakes. Since these pancakes are only cooked on one side, they tend to be very delicate. Place them side by side or slightly overlapping to prevent them from sticking to each other.
What Kind of Cheese to Use Atayef?
Growing up, my family always stuffed these delicious Arabic deep fried pancakes with nabulsi or akkawi cheese. You can use mozzarella, shelal, ricotta, or plain white cheese. Whatever works for you. It's also common to fill them with cream, or eshta, which is what's more common here in Egypt.
How to Freeze
I always make a double batch of qatayef and store one of them in the freezer. Cook, stuff, and fold the pancakes, then place in a ziplock or freezer bag to store for whenever you need them. Then, you'll just need to pull them out, defrost, and deep fry before serving. They'll store well for up to 2 months in the freezer.Print