Atayef (or Qataif ) قطايف is an Arabic dessert reserved for special occasions or holidays and enjoyed by both Christians and Muslims during their respective celebrations. Interestingly enough, while dairy foods aren't immediately associated with Hanukkah, Syrian Jews prepare atayef for the Festival of Lights to honor Judith.
Atayef (or Qataif) are similar to pancakes, except only one side is cooked, then the pancake is folded into a mini cone and filled with either ushta, a Lebanese pastry cream or a Lebanese nut roll type filling. The ushta filled atayef are then sprinkled with pistachios and served with attar, the Lebanese orange or rose-water syrup.
1 package of dried yeast (or 1 ½ oz (45g) fresh yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
Make Atayef Batter:
Let proof in a warm place until it starts to bubble, about 10 minutes.
Add yeast to flour and mix well, then add in all the water and mix until smooth and well combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for an hour until it rises and is bubbly (see below).
Preheat griddle to 400 F and lightly grease with a paper towel dipped in oil.
Stir down the batter.
Once the griddle is hot, drop batter by 1 tablespoon measure on to hot griddle and spread slightly to make a 3 inch diameter pancake.
Pancake will be about 1/8 inch thick – do not make as thin as a crepe.
When the pancake is full of holes on top and is dry, (takes about 30 seconds) remove from heat and set aside.
Only one side of the pancake is cooked and it will be very pale on the griddled side.
Continue until all the pancakes are cooked.
Ushta (Lebanese pastry cream):
2 cup whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
3 tbs sugar
1/2 cup corn starch mixed with 1/2 cup water
7 pieces white bread, crusts removed and torn into small pieces
1 tbs rose flower water (optional)
1 tbs orange flower water (optional)
Mix together heavy cream, milk, sugar and corn starch in a medium size pot and stir on low heat until smooth.
Tear white bread into small pieces and add to pot and stir to combine.
Once all bread is torn into the milk mixture, raise heat to med-low and stir occasionally in one direction.
Mix until custard begins to thicken, and stir until custard is very thick.
Remove from heat and pour into a bowl.
Mix in rose and orange flower water (if using) at this time.
I used just the orange flower water since many don’t like the taste of rose water (which I love).
Set the ushta on a counter top and let cool, stirring every 15 minutes or so.
After about an hour cover with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator to cool completely.
Attar, (A Lebanese syrup for drizzling on the Atayef before eating)
3 cups of sugar
1 ½ cups of water
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of orange (or rose) flower water
Dissolve sugar in water and add lemon juice.
Bring to a boil and stir occasionally until syrup I clear and thickens slightly about 5 – 10 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in orange (or rose) flower water and let cool.
To Assemble Atayef:
Take one of the pancakes and pinch the bottom half of the pancakes together half way to form a small cone.
Pipe or spoon some ushta into the pancake and roll the exposed ushta in crushed pistachios (or just sprinkle exposed ushta with pistachios)
Let come to room temperature before serving if possible for best flavor and texture.