Most people who are familiar with kataifi, the thin-strand pastry, think it is actually shredded wheat or shredded phyllo. In fact, it’s made with a batter that is poured through a tiny-holed spout onto a large, hot, circle griddle that spins slowly, thus creating the vermicell-like effect. There are still a few places that still make this by hand here in Athens, if you’re willing to do some research and looking around...
¾ pound/340 g. unsalted butter
½ pound/225 g. blanched almonds or walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup ground rusks
1 tsp. grated orange rind
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2-3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 pound/450 g. kataifi/shredded wheat pastry
½ pound/225 g. thin commercial phyllo pastry
For the Syrup
4 cups sugar
5 cups/1.2 litters water
2 tsp. strained fresh lemon juice
1. Clarify butter: Place butter in a small saucepan and heat slowly over low heat. Remove pan from heat and cool for 2 to 3 minutes. With a spoon, skim the milky foam from the top of the butter and discard foam. Pour the remaining clarified butter in a bowl and set aside until ready to use.
2. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Lightly butter a 22x30x8 cm baking pan.
3. In a medium-size bowl. Stir together nuts, ground rusks, orange rind, cinnamon, and sugar and set aside until ready to use.
4. Unwrap the kataifi pastry and the phyllo and divide each in half. Keep both covered so they will not dry out. Layer half the phyllo pastry, 1 sheet at a time, on bottom of prepared baking pan, brushing each sheet generously with clarified butter. Spread half the kataifi pastry over the phyllo and brush with butter. Spread the nut mixture over the kataifi and dot with butter. Cover nuts with remaining kataifi and brush again with butter. Layer remaining phyllo over kataifi, brushing each layer generously with butter. Tuck the phyllo neatly into the sides of the pan. Pour remaining butter over phyllo. Score lightly –1.8 to 2.5 cm deep – at first vertically, then horizontally, to form diamonds. Bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until phyllo is golden brown.
5. To prepare syrup: While the pastry is baking, in a medium-size saucepan, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, over low to medium heat for 15 minutes. Add lemon juice and remove pan from heat.
6. When pastry is done, remove baking pan from oven and spoon warm syrup over the pastry. Cool pastry in pan before serving.
Source: Diane Kochilas