This rich dessert is delicious, it’s crispy, it’s divine. It should be eaten hot, while the cheese is still oozing. In Turkey, it is generally cooked in a wood-fired oven, but of course you can also use an electric or gas oven.
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) kadayıf (shredded pastry; see Note)
- 250 g (9 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 400 g (14 oz) unsalted young cheddar or mozzarella, grated
- 100 g (3½ oz/1 cup) ground pistachio nuts
- 460 g (1 lb/2 cups) caster (superfine) sugar
- 375 ml (12½ fl oz/1½ cups) water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Light a wood-fired oven, or preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
Mix all the syrup ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10–15 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, place the pastry in a large bowl. Gently loosen the strands with your fingertips. Pour the melted butter over the pastry and mix well with your fingers, to coat all the pastry with butter.
Spread half the pastry in a large baking dish and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Spread the remaining pastry on top, then flatten the pastry down all over. Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.
Remove from the oven and pour the cold syrup over the hot pastry. Sprinkle the ground pistachios over and serve immediately.
• Kadayıf is a kind of filo pastry that has been shredded into fine threads or strands, and looks like a shredded-wheat breakfast cereal. It also goes by the Greek name, kataifi, and is available from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean grocery stores.
Recipe and image from Turkish Fire by Sevtap Yüce (Hardie Grant and SBS, $55, hbk).View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.