Knefe needs no introduction, however if you are unfamiliar with it, it is a typical Arabic dessert made across the Arab countries with a slide variation from each country. It is a cheesy dessert, with a baked crust, usually made with knefe dough known as Farek. It is best served warm, drenched in sugar syrup, and served in a kaake.
I honestly never really liked this dessert, in fact i really disliked it. That all changed once i made my own at home, i actually couldn’t resist and had it for breakfast, it was DIVINE.
Let’s talk Knefe Dough aka Farek
Most middle eastern stores will sell you Farek, however if you can’t find it you can buy the Ossmaliye dough, which are very fine strands of dough. For this to work, you need a spice grinder to grind them super finely. After processing them, you mix with the ghee and about 2tbsp sugar syrup. Place in a pan and lightly toast them until it is one shade darker. Then you press them into the pan and continue the recipe normally.
We are very lucky to be able to find all the ingredients here, we also have specialty shops that sell the cheese already desalted. If you cannot find Akkawi cheese i would suggest going for mozzarella cheese. Or if you can find Meshalala cheese it works perfectly for this recipe. You need to make sure to soak them for a minimum of 24hrs and to change the water every couple of hours to ensure that salt has been removed.
Knefe (Lebanese cheese dessert)
- 1 kg Farket Knefe
- 500 g Akkawi cheese shredded and soaked till unsalted*
- 200 g Mozarella cheese shredded and soaked till unsalted
- 1/2 cup Water
- 4 tbsp Fine semolina
- 4 tsp Orange blossom water
- 1/2 cup Melted ghee or butter
- 1 recipe sugar syrup*
- Handful of pistachios to decorate
- Preheat your oven to 180C fan
- Make sure your cheese, whichever you are using, has had all the salt removed by soaking it for at least 24hrs with a change of water every couple of hours
- In a bowl, mix your melted ghee with the knefe dough(farek). Make sure you rub them in between your fingers to evenly coat all the pieces. It should resemble sand
- In a pot, add your cheese, water, semolina, and orange blossom water
- In a 34cm aluminum pan, or any round baking pan (you can make several and freeze) brush some ghee and press down your knefe mixture keeping aside 1/4th cup of farke, you can compress it with your hand or with the back of a cup. Make sure it is evenly spread
- Place over medium-low heat and cook while constantly stirring to avoid burning. This step will make sure your cheese is well incorporated, flavors enhanced, and will give you a nice cheese pull. Cook for around 7 minutes or until cheese has fully melted
- While the cheese is still hot, pour it over the knefe mixture making sure to leave a 2cm border to avoid the cheese from sticking to the pan (if it melts to the pan edge dont panic, directly push it away with a knife while it is still hot) Sprinkle the reserved semolina (this will help it from sticking onto your serving dish)
- Bake in a preheated oven for 25-30 mins or until the edges have turned into a nice golden brown color
- Remove from the ove, let it set for a minute then flip onto serving dish (cheese layer on bottom, knefe layer on top)
- Pour the sugar syrup and spread it out with a spatula if needed
- Garnish with ground pistachios and serve immediately
- If you want to reheat, heat a pot of water on the stove, place the pan on top and let it cook bain marie (will help melt the cheese while avoiding any burning to the top)