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ChefCrash

K'nafeh B'jibin

12 posts in this topic

For years I've been trying to make this Lebanese (Arabic) breakfast/dessert street food.

Yesterday we made a new version. I can say that we're almost there if not there.

From left to right: A kind of Lebanese cheese, sold around here as "Best Spanish" cheese, soaking in water to rid it of any salt. The dough spread in a buttered pan. In the pan on the stove is simple syrup.

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After baking @ 450 F for 22 minutes, it was covered with two layers of the cheese.

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It was put back in the oven to melt the cheese then was removed and turned upside down onto a different pan.

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Drizzled syrup all over.

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Served warm with more syrup.

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Syrup:

1 c sugar

1/2 c water

1 tsp blossom water

Dough:

500 g Semolina

50 g Cream of wheat

125 g butter

3/4 c sugar

3/4 c milk

1 T rose water

1 T blossom water

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My absolute favorite dessert.

So, what was missing from this version, if anything? It looks spectacular.

I love both versions, but marginally prefer the shredded filo crust (homemade, not the neon orange stuff) to the semolina version for reasons of texture and crunch. Since the gooey cheese and warm syrup soften everything, I feel like the toasty crisp of the filo brings it all together.

As much as I adore semolina, I'd rather get my fix of it by eating basbousa and nammoura alongside my k'nafeh. My second favorite dessert... :wub:

That last photo is killing me. In fact, I am in Beirut right now and just realized that I've only had it once in the last two weeks. Must rectify that pattern within the next two weeks. It's always time for k'nafeh!

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Very nice ChefCrash.

Of course you would use Akawi cheese for the genuine McCoy although they have started experimenting with different cheeses now as well as Ashta. But the original is still the best.

You could sandwich the cheese with a thin dough layer and make sure to very lightly toast the semolina on dry heat before mixing the dough.

Again, pour the sugar syrup when still hot out of the oven. And you can easily cut the Knafeh before dousing with syrup and place in shrink film and freeze. It works like magic.

As for Verjuice, I hope you having a good time and easy on the sweets and the Casper & Gambini stuff.

For the Knafeh, try breakfast at the Marriott or Hallab in the middle of Raucheh with the water gargoyles and marble top tables. And the ubiquitous Samadi, not the one next to Saroulla but the one down from the Bristol towards Hamra.

As a matter of fact, try their Mafroukeh (Hallab) or come to think of it, try everything!

I will be waiting for you at the airport with the Coronary kit.

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Your k’nafeh gave me a very specific craving but I ended up at Canelle, which is an excellent pastry shop albeit not for Lebanese pastry, for a twice-baked almond croissant. It was good but it wasn’t k’nafeh.

At Samadi Sweets in Abu Dhabi, I sometimes treat myself to a semolina k’nafeh sandwiched into a soft, fresh kaek, syrup poured liberally inside… one can really only manage a couple of bites of this hulking, toothaching ambrosia before throwing in the towel, but it is food-on-the-go at its most magnificent. Also, my parents, who are very light eaters, have been eating a sort of modified version of k’nafeh for years, people go nuts over it… they like it because although it’s not necessarily lighter in calories (you end up eating more of it than of the traditional), it’s much lighter on the digestive tract, which makes it easier to sleep at night. I adore it but I definitely don’t consider it k’nafeh per se. First, they bake a very thin buttered layer of the shredded filo, so sheer it’s translucent, like lace… then, ricotta cheese in place of akawi is placed on top, also a very thin layer, maybe 1/8th of an inch or so. After that gets baked to a golden toasty brown, it’s inverted and the orange flower syrup is passed around in a small pitcher. They make it in a 12” round cake pan, and cut the slices into wide, thin, crisp wedges. It’s very buttery and extremely addictive.

Patrick in the dessert forum made this vanilla pastry cream-filled version of baklava a couple of months ago. It looks delicious, like tender milles feuilles. Might give it a whirl one of these days.

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looks outstanding Chef Crash! I never managed to perfect mine to be as good as yours looks, especially the crust. I'll have to give it a try now.

In Tripoli and everywhere I've been in Beirut, the shredded phylo one is not called Kenafi, but Basma. Also, and this is sort of an inside joke in Tripoli, how do you know if someone is from Beirut Vs. the North (ie north of Tripoli)? You ask if they want Kenafi with cheese (bil Jibin) or with clotted cream (bil Ashta). The Beirutis will always pick the cheese one, the Northerners will pick the Ashta. Needless to say Ashta is my favorite, but I'll take the cheese version in kaak anytime.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Looks great

If Spanish cheese then is it requeson which is similar to ricotta?

thanks

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I think we're there.

The problems we had with previous attempts were mostly with texture and appearance along with minor flavor issues.

Same recipe as above, butter is clarified and increased to 200g, the rose water is omitted, and a major difference in technique.

After mixing the ingredients the pastry resembles soft cookie dough.

It's then spread in a deep 9" pan and dried in a 300* oven for 20 minutes, the dough was mixed (fluffed) every 5 minutes. This is what it looks like as it was mixed for the last time.

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After it thoroughly cooled (all the butter solidified), the dough was milled in batches and run through a strainer. What was left behind was milled again.

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The stuff, now resembling soft Panko was poured into a buttered pan and pressed evenly.

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The tray baked in a 400* oven for 12 minutes or until the edges turned golden brown.

After baking, Akawi cheese (which had been soaked in water) and some mozzarella covered the whole cake.

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The tray was returned to the now off oven until the cheese melted.

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The tray was turned over onto a half sheet pan and....

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.....voila! The best looking Kenafe B'Jiben I had ever made. Cooled simple syrup was poured over it.

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The difference is evident

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Well done. You are almost there.

- The dough is Semolina+butter+sugar+milling. No water or milk and add rose and blossom water.

- The cheese is softened in a pot and not cut to slices and placed on top of the dough. You soften by stirring it continuously on low heat till the yellow fat liquid oozes out and you top it with some of the left over dough to absorb the liquid and you mix till it holds itself into a paste, only then, you pour it on the finished dough.

Sahtein

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Well done. You are almost there.

- The dough is Semolina+butter+sugar+milling. No water or milk and add rose and blossom water.

- The cheese is softened in a pot and not cut to slices and placed on top of the dough. You soften by stirring it continuously on low heat till the yellow fat liquid oozes out and you top it with some of the left over dough to absorb the liquid and you mix till it holds itself into a paste, only then, you pour it on the finished dough.

Sahtein

What do you mean I'm almost there?! For sure I thought I was there. In fact I'm there..er here right now.;)

-You say no water or milk, will I need more butter then? Either way do I still do the oven drying step before the milling?

-Is Semolina: Firkha فرخه or Smeedeh سميده. What color is it?

-Is cream of wheat: Firkha or Smeedeh. What color is it?

I'm afraid the people at the bulk food store may have them mislabeled.

-What is the difference between the two?

-I have read bout melting the cheese in a double boiler and then pouring over the dough. Just couldn't imagine the Akawi becoming soft enough to pour. I really don't think this part is critical. The Akawi melted beautifully in the warm oven without exuding any fat. Maybe our Akawi is different?

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This looks beautiful and delicious. Can someone try describing the flavors/textures to those of us who have never tasted this desert? Is the cheese sweet or salty? does the semolina make the dough layer somewhat crunchy? I'm also wondering about the filo dough variation--any pictures of that version?

Thanks for sharing this.



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It is not a desert. This is simply one of our typical Lebanese breakfast fares.

It taste like it reads: Crusty semolina on a bed of sweet melting stringy cheese. You eat it warm sandwiched in a special sesame bread after dousing it with sugar syrup.

A close up for you:

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Any final updates on this post. I just joined and found the recipe discussion. Would really like to get some info on what is the final list of ingredients and preparation instrutions. I tried what was listed but got terrible results, i suspect i might have missed a step or so. Thanx.

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