Shredded Phyllo Dough

This dough forms the base for many crunchy, sticky desserts across the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Kadayif
KadayifTodd Coleman

Shredded phyllo dough (called tel kadayif in Turkey)—essentially the same delicately layered pastry as regular phyllo but processed into thin strands for a shaggier texture—is the base for many crunchy, sticky desserts across the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. In the Turkish pastry called kunefe, shredded phyllo is paired with fresh cheese and drizzled with sugar syrup; in the Greek pastry known as kataifi, the dough is stuffed with chopped walnuts, almonds, or pistachios and scented with orange or rose water. The ingredient is equally versatile for savory pastries. Made from nothing more than flour and water and usually sold frozen, it will dry out quickly if not properly handled and stored. Brushing shredded phyllo with melted butter before baking helps to prevent sticking and cracking and gives desserts like kataifi their golden color. Thawed shredded phyllo should be stored in the refrigerator under a damp towel and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap; it will keep for about a week. Frozen shredded phyllo, like the kind made by Apollo (pictured), a Greek company, can be found in the freezer case of most Middle Eastern food markets and in specialty stores.