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a slice of greek ekmek kataifi on a white plate
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Ekmek Kataifi

Ekmek Kataifi is a luscious, Greek dessert with shredded phyllo dough drenched in syrup that's topped with custard and then whipped cream!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Greek
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Refrigeration 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings 12 , approximately
Author Voula

Equipment

  • 2 large sheet pans, about 14 x 12 inches (37 x 31cm)
  • a 9 x 13 inch pan (22 x 33cm) OR a small pan (9 x 6.5 inch (23 x 16.5 cm) and 6 dessert glasses

Ingredients

For the honey syrup

  • 3 ½ cups (700g) sugar
  • 2 cups (500ml) water
  • ½ cup (125 g) good-quality honey
  • juice and peel from half a lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the base

  • 1 pound (450g) shredded phyllo/filo dough, thawed and at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup (75g) coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 7oz (200g) unsalted butter, melted

For the custard/pastry cream

  • 4 cups (1 liter) whole milk
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • ½ cup (60g) cornstarch
  • 6 medium egg yolks
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground mastic gum (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter

For the whipped cream topping

  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup (65g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the garnish

  • ½ cup (80g) pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • ground cinnamon for dusting

Instructions

Make the syrup

  • Put the water, sugar, cinnamon stick, lemon juice and peel in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it boil for 4-5 minutes. Remove and discard the lemon peel and the cinnamon stick.
  • Take it off the heat and stir in the honey. Set it aside to cool.

Make the base

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Butter a large sheet pan really well. Mine is about 14 X 12 inches (37 x 31 cm). Set aside.
  • Start detangling the shredded phyllo dough. Pull apart all the strands without ripping or tearing the dough, so that there aren't any knots left. Work as quickly as you can as the dough can dry out very quickly. You should end up with a big fluffy pile of dough (see picture 5 in the post).
  • Mix the ground cinnamon with the nuts in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Evenly spread half of the detangled phyllo dough on your prepared pan. Then sprinkle with the nut mixture.
  • Pour half of the melted butter on top.
  • Spread the remaining phyllo dough and add the remaining melted butter. Use your hands to toss everything together so that the shredded dough is coated with the melted butter as much as possible. Make sure there aren’t any empty spaces. If there are, just use your fingers to push the shredded dough to fill them in. Don’t press down on the dough.
  • Bake the base for about 30-35 minutes, until it has a nice golden brown color (see picture 10 in the post).
  • When the base is done, take it out of the oven and immediately pour ALL of the cooled syrup all over. It will sizzle! This is completely normal! It will look like it’s too much syrup, but trust me, it isn’t!
  • Carefully tilt the pan left and right so that the syrup goes everywhere. Wear gloves if your pan is still hot! Set the base aside.

Make the custard/pastry cream

  • Put the milk, sugar, cornstarch, egg yoks, vanilla, salt, and ground mastic (if using) in a blender or food processor. Blend for about a minute.
  • Pour the egg mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat. Gradually bring to a boil, whisking continuously until it thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Don’t stop whisking as it can quickly burn. Once thickened, take it off the heat and whisk in the butter.
  • Pour the hot custard in a large, sheet pan and cover immediately with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap touches the entire surface.
  • Let the custard cool completely. It should take about 1-1½ hours.

Make the whipped cream

  • Put a metal bowl in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  • Take the metal bowl out of the freezer and add the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla.
  • Using a hand mixer, whip the cream until it thickens and forms peaks, about 5 minutes.

Assemble the dessert

  • Add a layer of the syrupy kataifi base to the bottom of a pan and even it out. (Use all of it if you're making one large pan, or use half of it in a small pan and the rest in 6 individual dessert glasses).
  • Spread an even layer of the custard cream on top.
  • Spread the whipped cream on top. For the individual dessert glasses, I used a Wilton 1M piping tip.
  • Garnish with the chopped pistachios and then dust with cinnamon.
  • Refrigerate for about 2 hours before serving, to give it time to set and make it easier to cut.
  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to about 5 days, covered with plastic wrap.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • If using ground mastic gum (mastiha), don't use more than what's stated in the recipe because it will make the custard bitter.
  • I’ve made this dessert by spreading the hot custard directly onto the kataifi base, however, I found that it made the base a bit mushy and too soft, which I don’t like. I found it much better to cool the custard in its own pan and then spread it on top of the base.
  • You can save some time by making the syrup a day ahead and keeping it in the fridge!
  • Instead of a pan or dessert glasses, you could use a pastry ring to cut out the base and make it into a round cake!
© Pastry Wishes