Atayef are small pancakes that are filled, rolled up and poured with syrup. There are a variety of fillings such as labneh, pudding or chopped nuts. The syrup also plays an important role, as it provides a magical aroma.
Throughout Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East, atayef can be found in every bakery during Ramadan. And at home, my mom likes to make them for birthdays …and when I want them.
What are atayef?
Atayef are pancakes filled with a kind of milk pudding called ashta. They are then garnished with chopped pistachios and drizzled with sugar syrup. My uncle doesn’t just drizzle them, he drowns them – but well, he’s a sugar junkie.
The dough and the pudding contain hardly any sugar. The sugar syrup (attir) therefore plays a decisive role. This allows everyone to determine the degree of sweetness themselves. The rose and orange blossom water gives the atayef their typical oriental flavor, which for me simply belongs in the perfect dessert.
Atayef – make your own stuffed pancakes
You can split the atayef recipe into four blocks, so to speak. You have to prepare the batter, the filling, the syrup and then assemble everything.
- For the dough, you prepare a yeast water, which you mix with the remaining ingredients to form a smooth dough and leave to rise for approx. 1 hour.
- Bake the batter one spoonful at a time in a non-stick frying pan to make small pancakes.
- For the ashta pudding, mix the milk with the vanilla, sugar and cornflour and boil the liquid to make a creamy pudding.
- Then flavor the pudding with rose and orange blossom water.
- To make the syrup, boil the water with the sugar and flavor it with rose and orange blossom water.
- To finalize the atayef, take a pancake, spread it with the milk pudding and fold it into a funnel. Then dip the front part of the filled pancake in the chopped pistachios. Finally, drizzle everything with a little sugar syrup.
When my mother makes these filled pancakes, the following spectacle takes place:
- She makes the pancakes, spreads the custard on one at a time, folds the pancake into a funnel and dips the whole thing in chopped pistachios.
- Then she moves on to the next pancake: She coats it, folds it into a funnel, dips it in chopped pistachios and wants to put it with the other filled pancake.
- BUT… The first pancake is gone! And strangely enough, some of the sugar syrup is also missing… That’s how it goes with at least the first four Atayef – mysterious!
Tips for preparation
There is a special feature when frying atayef: you can only fry it on one side!
While the bottom side fries lightly in the pan, the top side makes small bubbles, which then turn into lots of little craters. This happens because the batter is a liquid yeast dough. It is very important that only one side is fried. The top side cooks slowly and remains slightly sticky. This means that the pancakes stick together after topping.
And to prevent the little pancakes from sticking to the bottom of the pan, I recommend using a non-stick pan.
How long can Atayef keep?
It is best to eat the filled pancakes immediately after you have prepared them. You can also keep them in the fridge for 1-2 days, but they may then become soggy.
If you want to serve atayef as a dessert, you can also make the pancakes a few days in advance and store them in the fridge or freeze them. You can also prepare the filling and syrup the day before if you keep everything in a cool place afterwards.
Are the filled pancakes vegan?
This atayef recipe is a classic Lebanese recipe from my mother and is not vegan or gluten-free. I haven’t tested it yet, but it can certainly be veganized.
You can try it out in vegan form and let me know in the comments if it works.
Now let’s get to work on the dough! I hope you enjoy preparing it and bon appétit.
Recipe for atayef – filled pancakes with ashta
For the dough
- 250 g Flour
- 400 ml Water lukewarm
- 1 TSP Salt
- 1 TSP Sugar
- 1 TSP Dry yeast
- some butter for the pan
- 25 g chopped pistachios
- Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 100 ml of lukewarm water in a cup. Place a saucer on the glass and let the yeast rise for 10 minutes.
- Mix the flour, salt, water and yeast mixture together to form a liquid dough.
- Cover the dough and leave to rise for approx. 1 hour.
- Brush the pan with a little butter and cook the pancakes in it over a medium heat on one side only. To do this, take 2 tablespoons of the batter at a time and spread the pancake out a little more with the back of a spoon.When the top half cooks, it gets many small craters (like cheese).The pancakes are ready when the top half is dry.
- Leave the pancakes to cool. To prevent them from drying out, I would cover them with a clean cloth.
- Mix the cold milk, cornflour, vanilla (sugar) and sugar together and dissolve.
- Heat the milk mixture while stirring constantly (do not boil) until it becomes a creamy mass.
- Stir in the rose and orange blossom water.
- Remove the milk pudding from the cooker and leave to cool.
Preparation sugar syrup
- Dissolve the sugar in the water in a saucepan and then simmer until it becomes a syrup (about 8 – 10 minutes).
- Stir in the rose and orange blossom water.
- Allow to cool.
Construction manual for the filling
- Take a pancake, spread it about halfway with the cooled milk pudding and fold it backwards to form a funnel.As the pancakes are only baked on one side, they stick together on the other side.So the milk pudding sticks out of the front and the back is sealed. This makes it easy to grip the pancake.
- Dip the front part (with the milk pudding) of the filled pancake in the chopped pistachios.
- Drizzle the filled pancake with sugar syrup.
Have you got the sweet tooth? Then try Shabiyat: crispy baklava pockets with cream filling or Knefeh Minis.