Qatayef (Sweet Filled Semolina Pancakes)

Recipe by Heifa Odeh

These tender, porous pancakes, a familiar treat served during the Muslim observance of Ramadan, are stuffed with walnuts and cinnamon sugar before being baked, doused in simple syrup, and enjoyed warm. The flavor of the pancake is light and subtle, allowing the filling’s sweet crunch to take center stage. Our thanks to Heifa from Fufu’s Kitchen for sharing this recipe with us. (See "tips," below, for details on how to make the open-ended qatayef shown here.)

1 hr
14 to 19 mins
2 hrs 20 mins
18 qatayef
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Qatayef (Sweet Filled Semolina Pancakes)


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  1. To make the batter: Weigh your flour, or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup and sweeping off any excess.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, yeast, and baking powder.

  3. Add the water and whisk vigorously until smooth; the batter should be slightly thinner than typical pancake batter. If the batter appears too thick or thin, adjust by whisking in water or all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon at a time.

  4. Cover the batter and set it aside to rest for 20 minutes.

  5. Preheat a nonstick pan or griddle over low to medium heat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a clean dish towel.

  6. Pour a scant 1/4 cup (50g) batter onto the griddle and cook until the qatayef’s top surface develops holes and is completely dry, about 2 minutes; don’t flip it over.

  7. Remove the qatayef from the heat and place it cooked side down on the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining batter, transferring the cooked qatayef to the pan in a single layer and keeping them covered as you work. Don't stack them directly atop one another or they’ll stick.

  8. To make the filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the nuts, sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.

  9. To make the syrup: In a small saucepan set over medium heat, mix together the sugar and water, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

  10. As soon as the mixture reaches a boil, stop stirring, reduce the heat, and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.

  11. Remove the syrup from the heat and add the orange blossom water and/or lemon juice. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

  12. To assemble: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets.

  13. Working with one qatayef at a time, add 1 to 2 tablespoons (8g to 16g) filling to the center of the uncooked side. Fold the qatayef in half to enclose the filling, using your fingers to pinch the sides together to seal. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

  14. Repeat with the remaining qatayef and filling, spacing them 2" apart on the baking sheets.

  15. Brush the tops of the qatayef with melted butter or ghee and bake until golden brown and firm, about 12 to 15 minutes.

  16. Turn the oven’s broiler to high and broil each side of the qatayef for 1 to 2 minutes, for added browning and crispness.

  17. Remove the qatayef from the oven and dip them into the syrup to coat.

  18. Allow the excess syrup to drip from the qatayef before serving warm.

  19. Qatayef are best served immediately, fresh out of the oven; we don’t suggest rewarming them.

  20. Storage information: Qatayef can be stuffed ahead of time and frozen in an airtight container, then defrosted and baked whenever a craving hits.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Another favorite way to serve qatayef is with a sweet cheese filling. Combine 12 ounces crumbled sweet cheese* (defrosted if frozen) with 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon. Fill and bake as directed above. Yield: enough filling for about 9 or 10 qatayef.

  • To make the open-ended version (Heifa's fun, creative take on qatayef) pictured above: Use 2 tablespoons batter per qatayef, cooking as directed. Make the filling by mixing 1 cup (227g) ricotta cheese and 2 tablespoons (28g) sweetened condensed milk or table cream.* To finish, fold a qatayef in half and pinch the edges together, stopping halfway so one end is open. Fill with a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling and dip the end in crushed pistachios. Repeat with the remaining qatayef and drizzle with additional syrup before serving.

  • *Some of the less common ingredients in this recipe (like the dairy products and flavoring) can be found in Middle Eastern stores or are available through online retailers like these: Heifa's preferred brand of sweet cheese (Dana) and table cream.