Last Thursday, my nephews’ and niece’s Easter vacation started. Marc my sister’s second, decided he wanted to stay at Grandma’s till Saturday, when his family will come to pick him up and take him home.
Marc, I noticed, has taken quite an interest in cooking along the last couple of years. Whenever I am in the kitchen, he rushes in saying:”A vos ordres, Chef!” (At your orders, Chef!). Marc also is a huge Knefeh fan. So it seemed like a great Saturday morning activity with him, to surprise his family.
He was overjoyed at the idea that I shared with him on Thursday evening before bed. He would also help me go shopping for ingredients. He was excitedly asking all these questions: “When do we go shop?” “What time do we shop?”“We have to wake up early to make the Knefeh, right?”
Then he wants to rush to the phone to tell his mom, dad and siblings not to have breakfast on Saturday, because we have a surprise for them. So I tell him this task can wait till the next morning, which of course top ranked on his to do list.
Then later we left for the supermarket, where we also got everyone some “favors” he chose, to distribute with breakfast on Saturday. Him and his siblings got coloring books and he decided his mom and dad should have shortcake cookies cutters.
I decided not to follow the recipe I posted, but to go my mom’s way. On Friday we had to prepare the crust so it absorbs the butter. Here are the ratios for the ingredients.
Knefeh crust: (enough for 2 large baking pans)
- ½ Kg coarse semolina
- 250g fine semolina
- 250g bread crumbs
- 400g butter
Melt the butter and rub it with the semolina and crumbs then spread it evenly in the pan to get about 0.5 cm thickness.
I admit that Marc did a great job spreading the crust.
I also made the syrup at the ratio of 1 cup water/1 cup sugar, some lemon, blossom water and rose water (distilled here at home, see how in this post) so it cools down to use on the Knefeh the next day.
We also cut the akkawi cheese (1 Kg) in small strips and changed the water every two hours or so, so it loses its saltiness.
On Saturday morning Marc was up early and all restless to start baking the Knefeh. When finally in the oven he ran to the balcony and waited for his family to arrive so he could close the kitchen’s door, so they would not see the surprise.
Round mid baking we laid the cheese on the crust, then put it back in the oven. Mom said she always made that way without melting the cheese beforehand.
I did not get to take pictures of the pan before the children’s raid.
Although this way is faster to prepare, it takes longer to bake because the cheese releases water on the crust and it has to dry before the crust goes golden. To avoid if you have a slow oven, which was the case for us. I had to speed the process by cooking the Knefeh on the stove. Which is by the way it is done in pastry shops.
I did not turn the Knefeh on another pan or dish, we just cut it and turned it around in the serving platter, then we added the cool syrup.
I thought 1 Kg of cheese is too little for the crust amount, I think another half a kilo would have done it. Also the crust needed more browning, since usually it has a reddish brown color, I only got golden. Perhaps adding more butter would help.
All in all it was a good experience, maybe not a professional result but the taste was not bad at all!