This dessert is made in the same way as künefe, but with ground nuts inside rather than cheese. I like to scatter freshly ground pistachios over the top as I love the contrast between the roasty flavours of the nuts in the middle, and the bright green nuts on top. Tel kadayıf is lovely as a dessert with thick cream, ice-cream or yoghurt, or on its own as an afternoon treat.
- 100 g (31/2 oz) butter
- 1½ tbsp milk
- 250 g (9 oz) kadayıf shredded pastry (½ packet)
- 200 g (7 oz/1⅓ cups) pistachios, or a mixture of pistachios and walnuts
- 200 g (7 oz/scant 1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
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.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas 4). Grease a 20 cm (8 in) square cake tin. Melt the butter with the milk in a small saucepan and set aside to cool slightly.
Gently pull apart the kadayıf, making sure none of the strands have clumped together in sticky or dry lumps (discard any bits that are very soggy). Lay it all on a board – it will form an unruly heap – and, using a sharp knife, repeatedly chop straight through the pile, breaking the strands into rough 2.5 cm (1 in) lengths.
Place the chopped kadayıf in a bowl and add the melted butter and milk.
Using your hands, mix thoroughly, ensuring all the pastry gets a good coating of butter. Divide the buttered kadayıf into two equal amounts. Press one half into the bottom of the cake tin, ensuring it completely covers the base. It should be about 2 cm (¾ in) thick.
In a food processor or pestle and mortar, grind the nuts quite finely, to a texture a little coarser than rough sand. Scatter 150 g (5 oz/1 cup) of the nuts over the bottom layer of kadayıf pastry, ensuring it is completely covered, right to the edges. Cover the nuts with the second layer of kadayıf, pressing it firmly down and to the edges of the tin. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until the pastry is crisp and lightly golden brown (be careful not to overcook as the nuts may scorch and become bitter, so if over-browning, cover loosely with foil).
Meanwhile put the sugar with 200 ml (7 fl oz/generous ¾ cup) water in a saucepan. Heat gently until dissolved then bring to the boil and boil briskly until the syrup has reduced by a quarter, to about 150 ml (5 fl oz/½ cup). It’s ready when it is viscous and coats the back of a spoon. (Unless it becomes fully syrupy, it won’t hold the pastry together.) Remove the syrup from the heat and pour into a jug or bowl to cool.
Remove the tel kadayıf from the oven. Pour over the cooled sugar syrup.
Istanbul: Recipes From the Heart of Turkey, Rebecca Seal (Hardie Grant, $45, hbk)
Leave for 10–15 minutes so the pastry can absorb the syrup and the whole thing can set slightly. Scatter the remaining ground nuts over. Remove from the tin and serve cut into small squares.