Last weekend was the perfect opportunity for me to make the knefeh for the challenge. I wanted my family to try it since it is not something that one finds on the average menu here in the USA. So after the kids finished school for the week and the rain set in a bit, I decided I would prepare this for all the house’s cooped up occupants.
I followed the challenge recipe for the most part, incorporating just a few minor changes. In particular, the rose water and orange blossom water were too difficult to find in the small town I had to do my shopping in for this. I went ahead without these things since my sources more familiar with the dish claimed it would taste fine without them.
The results of my labor were satisfying. The flavor reminded me of the knefeh I had while in Lebanon, although the texture of the crust in this recipe was slightly different. The family enjoyed the experience of trying a dessert of an entirely different nature than they were used to as well.
There are a few changes I would recommend to the recipe I used. First the dough preparation makes enough for 2 large preparations, so I might only use half of it and save the rest, or cut the recipe amounts in half the next time. Secondly, the cheese mixture seems like not quite enough and I might increase the amount to 1 1/2 pounds of mozzarella. Next I might cut down the butter amount to 3/4 cup in the crust as it was rather buttery. Finally, I would probably try to find fine semolina flour to use in the cheese mixture instead of all purpose flour as I used. The cheese ended up being just a touch thicker than the Lebanese version. My recipe and methods as performed follow here:
Dough (Crust) Ingredients:
- 3 cups of coarse wheat semolina flour.
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks, melted).
- 1 cup granulated sugar.
- 1/4 cup of water.
Dough (Crust) Method:
- Mix sugar and semolina together in a large casserole dish (9X13-inch).
- Add butter and water, mix well, and spread across the bottom of the dish.
- Put the tray in the oven for 10 minutes at 350°F until it dries .
Sugar Syrup Ingredients:
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- Juice from 1 Meyer Lemon
Sugar Syrup Method:
- Dissolve the sugar in 1 1/2 cups of water by boiling in a small pot over medium heat. Stir until the mixture starts boiling, then turn off the heat and keep aside.
- Add the lemon juice right before the heat is turned off.
Cheese Mixture Ingredients:
- 1 pound of Mozzarella cheese (Cut into cubes and soaked in water for 24 hours in the refrigerator to remove the salt).
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup of the prepared sugar syrup
Cheese Mixture Method:
- Place cheese in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the water oozes out. Discard the water that comes out.
- Add in the flour and 1 cup of the syrup and mix. When the cheese mixture starts boiling, use immediately in the knefeh preparation (see below).
- Spread the knefeh dough onto the bottom of a suitable baking dish forming a layer of around 1/2 inch in thickness. Bake the pan in the oven at 350°F until the bottom and the sides turn golden brown.
- Pour the prepared cheese mixture over the baked knefeh dough.
- Place a large serving dish over the knefeh pan and turn the pan upside down. Lift up the pan then cut the knefeh, which is now crust-side-up on the serving dish, into squares.
- Serve the knefeh pieces with the remaining syrup. You can also place a slice in some pita bread and top with syrup. Bon appetit!