Soft pancakes filled with cream in an orange blossom sugar syrup
Qatayef are soft, pillowy pancakes that are simply gorgeous. They are freshly made and stuffed with all sorts of fillings—cream, pistachios, walnuts, cheeses. . . They are sometimes eaten soft and sometimes fried, the choice is yours—the method of preparing them and putting them together is the same.
I love making these for special occasions such as Eid and birthdays, since they are such a treat and also look beautiful. Their texture is so unctuous that you just have to eat more than one. Every family has their own way of making them, and this is the way we do it at home.
For the pancakes
2 cups (500 ml) warm milk
2 cups (500 ml) warm
1 x ¼ oz (7 g) envelope of
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
2 ½ cups (10½ oz/300 g)
1 cup (6 oz/170 g) fine
1 quantity Sweetened Cream or variation (see below)
1 quantity Sugar Syrup (page 232) mixed with 2 tsp orange blossom water
crushed pistachios, to scatter
crushed dried rose petals, to scatter
In a bowl, combine all the pancake ingredients, mix well, then set aside for 30 minutes to rise.
When the mixture has rested and the gluten has grown, heat a frying pan over low heat and grease it with a little sunflower oil. Place a small ladleful of the mixture into the pan to make a 3 inch (7.5 cm) pancake, and let it cook without flipping. You should start to see small air bubbles form on the top. When it is golden on the bottom and cooked through, remove from the pan, set aside, and repeat with the remaining mixture. Once you have made all of them, you can start stuffing. I use the sweetened cream filling from the Warbat Bil Ishta (page 212; see below), but feel free to use your own preferred filling. Place a dollop of stuffing in the center of one pancake. If you are serving straight away, begin pressing the edges of the pancake together on one side, but stop half way, so you have a semicircle that is open on one side, exposing some of the filling. Repeat with the rest.
If you are deep-frying, seal the pancakes all the way around the edges. Half-fill a deep pan with oil, heat it to 350ºF (180ºC), and fry the pancakes until slightly golden and a little crisp on both sides. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels for a few minutes.
To serve either version, drizzle with the orange blossom sugar syrup and scatter with pistachios and rose petals.
Sweetened Cream Filling (with Variation)
8 ½ cups (2 liters) whole milk
¾ cup (180 ml) white wine vinegar
2–3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp butter
⅔ cup (150 ml) heavy cream
For the sweetened cream, place the milk in a saucepan over low heat and bring to a boil. Once boiled, add the vinegar. The mixture will split, but that’s fine. Pass the mixture through a sieve, keeping the curd and discarding all the liquid. Add the sugar (according to how sweet you like things) and the butter to the curd and mix to combine. Add the cream, mix well, and place in the refrigerator.
As an alternative filling recipe, cut the crusts off 12 slices of white toasting bread, then use a food processor to process the bread to a chunky powder. Combine with 2 cups (500 ml) of heavy cream and 2–4 tablespoons of sugar.
A Celebration of Food from Land and Sea
By Joudie Kalla • Photography by Jamie Orlando Smith