Knaifi, Sitto Naima’s Shredded Pastry

Published October 23, 2018

Knaifi, Sitto Naima’s Shredded Pastry is a Syrian sweet that looks delicious and exotic! It’s not!
This traditional Aleppo dessert is made throughout Syria and the entire Middle East! Through the generations, mothers and daughters cooked and baked together, so these desserts were “second nature” to the younger ones. But today’s families are spread throughout the country. Could this be why so many of our Syrian sweets look challenging and have put off novice bakers from even trying them? With that in mind, I set out to make these traditional recipes easy to understand. I’ve added modern tips and Cook’s Notes to help novice cooks and bakers along. If any of the ingredients look out-of-reach, there’s even a Where to Buy It section in each cookbook.

The real charm of this recipe is the ability of a young cook to attempt this. Since the dough is pre-shredded, it can be found in a Middle Eastern grocer’s freezer alongside Phyllo dough. The thinly shredded dough is tossed with butter and layered under and over a creamy filling. The traditional filling is made with finely chopped pistachios and another alternative is with sweetened creamed ricotta cheese. The Knaifi is then finished with a drizzle of simple syrup, called Shirreh.

This unique and delectable dessert can easily be accomplished alongside your own budding family bakers. My granddaughter discovered this after enjoying her first taste of this Knaifi, which she called “that spaghetti dessert!” After we layered half the shredded dough in the bottom of a rectangular baking pan, we added the creamy cheese filling and then the top layer of shredded dough. After baking it, we drizzled it with syrup. It’s traditionally cut into squares, wedges or in-the-round, as shown. Try this scrumptious Aleppo dessert called “Knaifi” in Arabic and Sitto Naima’s Shredded Pastry in English on page 151 of Sitto’s Kitchen II Cookbook!