Honey & Co – Knafe

Knafe

Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer (Honey & Co) 

Husband and wife team Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer met in a restaurant kitchen in Israel ten years ago and now run Honey & Co, one of London’s most talked about dining destinations. Itamar Srulovich was head chef at Ottolenghi, while Sarit Packer was both head of pastry at Ottolrnghi and executive chef at Nopi. Their second cookbook, The Baking Book is released in July 2015.

Image: Steve Ingram
Image: Steve Ingram

INGREDIENTS

For the base:

200g Kadaif pastry

100g Butter – melted

For the filling:

125g rindless goat cheese (1 small log)

150g salty feta

100g mascarpone or cream cheese

Zest of ½ orange (use the remaining half for the syrup)

½ tsp freshly ground cardamom pods

For the syrup:

3 strips of orange zest – use a peeler

5 whole Cardamom pods

250g Sugar

140ml Water

1 tbsp Orange blossom water

To garnish – optional:

20 g Chopped pistachio and 1 tbsp dried rose petal

 METHOD

Start by making the syrup so that is has time to infuse the flavours. Press on the cardamom pods to slightly open and expose the seeds in the centre then pop into a small saucepan, pods and all. Add all the other syrup ingredients to the pan, mix well to start dissolving the sugar so that is doesn’t catch, then set on the stove and bring to the boil, skim any foam that forms on the top and remove from the heat.

Allow to cool in the pan with the orange zest and cardamom pods until you are ready to use it. This will produce a very thick syrup, and you will need to strain it before using. But you could prepare this syrup in a few hours in advance if you wish.

To make the filling, crumble the goat cheese and the feta into a bowl, add the mascarpone, cardamom and orange zest and mix to combine, but allow the cheeses to stay in rough clumps. Don’t worry that there is no sugar added at this point, it will get plenty of sweetness from the syrup.

To assemble and make you will need to heat your oven to 180. Place the kadaif pastry in a large bowl and pull apart a little to separate the strands of pastry, pour the melted butter all over, mix it into the kadaif pastry, using your hands rub it all over the pastry so that it is coated with the butter (a little like putting cream in your hair).

Place half the amount in a medium 7” (18-20cm) frying pan flatten down to cover the entire base of the frying pan.  Cover with the cheese filling, making sure that there is even distribution of cheese all over and then top with the second layer of pastry.

I always start by giving it some colour on the stove top: set the frying pan on a low to medium heat and twist the pan every 20 seconds to slowly start to crisp the pastry. after 2 minutes press down on the top layer with the lid of the frying pan or a plate that fits and flip the pan while holding onto the lid so that you can lift off the frying pan and reveal the crispy side on top.

Set the frying pan down and very carefully slide the knafe back into the frying pan so that you can crisp the underside. Fry for 2 extra minutes on this side and transfer to the oven to complete the baking for 10 minutes.

Or …. Scrap all the hard work and set it in the oven as soon as it assembled for 20 minutes. You won’t get all the tiny crispy strands of pastry but you will have a much easier time making this.

Once it is time, remove from the oven and carefully, using a sieve to catch the orange and cardamon pods (you can discard them now that they have done their job), pour all the full amount of syrup over the cake and allow to absorb for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with some chopped pistachios  and rose petals and serve warm.

This really isn’t a dessert to eat cold, you want to have it while the cheese is oozing and the pastry is warm. You can use a large spoon to scoop out portions or you can carefully cut it into wedges.

If you are making this for a dinner party follow all the stages up to the oven and keep in the fridge, you can keep it at this stage for up to 24 hours. Then simply add an extra 5 minutes to your baking time, and it will be just as good.