Eκμέκ Κανταΐφι — Ekmek Kataifi


I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for days and as such would like to apologize for the long lapse in posts the last week or so.

Without further ado, I’d like to offer you what is probably my favorite dessert–EVER–and which I revamped slightly to include the unique flavor of Mastiha. I am not sure of the history of Ekmek Kataifi and I can only hypothesize that it is a dessert combining Greek and Turkish influences. It’s three layers (a Kataifi pastry base soaked in syrup, a custard filling and fresh whipped cream topping) make a divinely delicious dessert … a little bit of heaven in every bite.

Kali Orexi!

Eκμέκ Κανταΐφι — Ekmek Kataifi

For the pastry base:
1lb. Kataifi pastry
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, plus a pat more for buttering the pan

For the Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

For the Custard:
7 egg yolks
6 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
7 tablespoons fine semolina
4 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Mastiha crystals, ground with a mortar and pestle

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a large rectangular baking pan (about 11×15 inches), making sure it is relatively deep enough to accommodate the layers of pastry, custard and whipped cream. To begin making the base, take the strands of Kataifi and pull them apart slightly while layering them in the bottom of the buttered pan–no need to press down on the Kataifi strands as they are better left light and fluffy. Brush the Kataifi strands with the melted butter then place the pan in the oven. Toast the Kataifi strands until golden brown.

Meanwhile, begin making the syrup by boiling the sugar with the water in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, then pour the hot syrup over the toasted pastry base.

To make the mastiha-flavored custard, add the sugar and the egg yolks in a medium saucepan and whisk until combined. Alternating as you go, slowly begin adding the semolina, milk and corn starch whisking until well incorporated. Move the saucepan to a burner and set it over medium heat. Cook the mixture stirring constantly and being careful not to scorch it. Once the custard thickens, remove the saucepan from the heat and beat in the vanilla and ground mastiha. Cool slightly, then pour the custard over the Kataifi base. Let it all cool completely before adding the fresh whipped cream topping. (At this point you can cover the dessert and refrigerate overnight if you prefer, simply adding the whipped cream the next day just before serving.)

Just before serving, combine 2 cups heavy cream and 2 or 3 tablespoons sugar in the bowl of a standmixer (using the whisk attachment) and beat the cream to stiff peaks. Spoon the whipped cream over the custard layer and carefully spread it to each corner of the pan. Carefully cut the Ekmek Kataifi into square servings. Top with a pistachio spoonsweet or, more traditionally, with toasted almond slivers or chopped pistachios.

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26 Responses to “Eκμέκ Κανταΐφι — Ekmek Kataifi”

  1. Aglaia says:

    I am honored that you mention my book (the foods of the Greek islands)as a favorite! I very much enjoy your recipes and posts. THANKS!!!!

  2. Rosa says:

    Oh, yummy! That is a delightful dessert!



  3. maria says:

    this is usually made very stodgy in the zaharoplasteia, but yours looks perfect – neat layers, nice touch with the topping and best of all, no sludge at the bottom


  4. Maria, your choice of sweets are right up my alley. This a perfect combination!

  5. I think this could be my favorite dessert too, even though I’ve never had it. while I’m at it, might as well pick up another bag of mastiha crystal to make this one when I get home.

  6. Peter says:

    A decadent glyko to end your Mastixa night. Nice touch with the fistiki glyko.

  7. Ivy says:

    Great recipe Maria. I made something similar a few weeks ago but with a different flavour. I didn’t even know this was ekmek. I thought ekmek was kataifi and icecream.

  8. elly says:

    I adore kataifi, but have never had this version. I love the idea of the custard – no wonder this is your favorite dessert. I’d love to have a piece!

  9. Lisa says:

    Thank you for this! I had this as an ice cream in Northern Cyprus but instead of kataifi it used revani for the cake layer. Even No 1 Husband liked it!

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Τι να πω για ένα τέτοιο γλυκό;

    Το θέλω κολασμένα!!!

    Καλό Σαββατοκύριακο

  11. MariannaF says:

    i have a gigantic pack of kataifi in the kitchen and this recipe is definately one way i should use up part of my kataifi!!! and the best part is that ive got all the ingredients at home too :) now i just need to find the TIME to do it!!

  12. Muneeba says:

    Beyond amazing … can see why this is your fav!

  13. The mix of textures makes this a really fun dessert. Wonder if we could find that pastry here in Los Angeles….

  14. Teanna says:

    Wow this dish looks so interesting! I’d love to try it!

  15. S Lloyd says:

    Thanks for the recipe Quite excoted to try this tonight! Bough all the ingredients. Can’t Wait!

  16. Peni says:

    I was invited to a Greek house today, and the woman made a lovely dinner. Dessert was καταΐφι, I can cook, so I asked her for her recipe and she said “I use half and half”:

    half flour – I’m assuming she means cup
    half corn flour – I’m assuming she means cup
    1 cup sugar
    4 cups milk
    3 eggs
    a little vanilla

    That’s what she uses to make the “custard” filling, or the pudding as she called it. And she spread a thin layer of whip cream on top and roasted sliced blanched almonds.

    It tasted DIVINE. Now, my fiance is Greek, so is his mother who lives in Greece and I’ve been using your site & others to educate myself on Greek food. I’m looking for authenticity & creativity… I saw how he devoured it & thought this would be a dessert we’d always have in our house since I like it too. I will try your recipe, but I was wondering if you’ve heard of her version?

  17. admin says:

    Hello Peni! I am sorry it took me a few days to reply but I just saw your comment waiting in my site’s queue. My mom always used semolina and corn starch but I am sure it will work out with flour as well. I wouldn’t add the entire half cup of each flour all at once though–pace yourself as you may not need that entire amount.
    Isn’t ekmek kataifi delicious? I cannot make it often as I will eat much too much of it and that just won’t do! Please do let me know how it turns out for you!

  18. margarita says:

    I make ekmek offten and thought I did a very good job at it, then I tried your recipe. Its the best Ive ever had

  19. Hi,thank you for sharing your recipe. We love this dessert. Pls. check my blog

  20. Varvara says:

    Hi everyone,

    I found this recipe on the net last (Greek Orthodox) Easter and it was the best Ekmek ever!!!
    So this time for the New Year celebration I’m definately making it again.

    Mastiha makes all the difference.

    Happy 2012 and Happy cooking!

  21. Mary says:

    OMG!!! What a magnificent recipie. Thank you for sharing. All the way from Melbourne Australia

  22. [...] Kataif. Check out a recipe and pictures of this Turkish / Greek delicacy. This Mediterranean desert is flavoured with mastic. Mastic is a [...]

  23. Maria says:

    This is one of my favorite desserts, and I always treat myself to it once a summer in Rhodes. I am looking forward to trying your version of it for my family in the states this holiday season. The fact that you used masticha to flavor it has me salivating!

  24. Peri says:

    what is Mastiha and where can I buy it in the UK and also the kataif pastry?

  25. Glenn says:


    I appologize if this is a duplicate, I have not heard back on my original post.

    Has anyone tried Mastiha liquor instead of the crystals?


  26. admin says:

    I sincerely apologize for the long delay in responding! Would love to know how the mastiha liquor turned out. Did it work well with the dessert?

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