Turkish Walnut Kadayif (Vegan)
Kadayif is one of the most popular and easy to make Turkish desserts. It's made with finely shredded filo pastry (Kadayif noodles), walnuts, and baked until golden and crispy. The Kadayif is finished off with a generous drizzle of sweet syrup. If you're a fan of Turkish desserts, you'll love this recipe!
WHAT IS KADAYIF?
Kadayif is a traditional Turkish desert that originated in the Seljuk and Anatolian principalities, but it is also common in the Middle East and East European countries. The main ingredient in this recipe is Tel Kadayif, which is basically just finely shredded filo pastry sheets. Kadayif is one of the most well-known Turkish desserts with a sweet syrup alongside baklava. Kadayif is often confused with Turkish kunefe because both are made with kadayif noodles. Traditional Kunefe contains cheese in the middle while Kadayif is usually made with walnuts of pistachios. The Kadayif noodles are coated in melted butter and filled with chopped walnuts, then baked until golden and crispy. Once it has cooled down a little, a sweet syrup is poured on top and it's left to rest until the dough has absorbed all of the syrup. Kadayif is delicious served on its own or it can be served with some vegan ice cream for a deliciously indulgent dessert!
WHERE TO BUY KADAYIF PASTRY
The Kadayif dough can be found in most Turkish or Middle Eastern supermarkets. If you don’t have any Turkish or Middle Eastern supermarkets nearby, you can also order them online from a range of online retailers.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE KADAYIF
You’ll only need a few basic ingredients to make this dessert.
Kadayif noodles – The Kadayif noodles can be made at home, but it is a lengthy process, so most people prefer shop-bought Kadayif noodles. They can be found in most Turkish or Middle Eastern supermarkets.
Butter – You can use either slightly salted or unsalted vegan butter. I used the unsalted Flora plant-based butter, but any vegan butter will do.
Walnuts - You can decide how fine you want the texture to be, but for this recipe I have used roughly chopped walnuts. Alternatively, you can use chopped pistachios.
Caster sugar – I’ve used caster sugar as it dissolves faster, but you can also use granulated sugar. I wouldn’t recommend using light brown or dark brown sugar or fruit syrups as they won’t create the desired colour or consistency.
Lemon – The lemon juice adds a really pleasant tanginess to the syrup and creates a nice balance with the sweetness.
Vanilla extract – I’ve used vanilla extract for this recipe, but you can add different flavours such as orange blossom water or rose water.
Strawberries – I've used fresh strawberries as garnish, but as an alternative you can use pomegranate seeds.
Crushed pistachios – I’ve used ground pistachio as garnish, but you can also use crushed pistachios or any other nut of your choice.
HOW TO MAKE KADAYIF
STEP 1: MAKE THE KADAYIF BASE
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Separate the Kadayif noodles by loosely pulling the stands apart. Place the separated stands of Kadayif in a large bowl and pour over the melted vegan butter and oil. Gently rub the Kadayif noodles until they're evenly coated with the butter and oil. Scatter half of the Kadayif noodles on the bottom of a medium baking tray and firmly push down with your hands until the Kadayif is spread evenly. Scatter the chopped walnuts on top of this layer, then evenly spread the remaining Kadayif on top and firmly press down with your hands until it becomes compact.
STEP 2: BAKE THE KADAYIF
Place the Kadayif in the oven to bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and crisp. After you've taken it out of the oven, leave it to cool down for about 20 minutes before pouring the syrup on top.
STEP 3: PREPARE THE SYRUP
To prepare the syrup, bring 500ml water, 450g sugar, the juice of half a lemon and 2 tsp vanilla extract to a boil, and cook at a high heat for about 20-25 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has reduced slightly. Take the syrup off the heat and let it cool down.
STEP 4: POUR THE SYRUP
Using a ladle, pour the cooled syrup evenly on top of the warm Kadayif then cut into 12 slices. Let the Kadayif rest for about 1 hour at temperature so that the flavours of the syrup absorb into the Kadayif pastry.
STEP 5: GARNISH AND SERVE
Add the garnish of your choice onto each slice of Kadayif and serve at room temperate. This dessert is delicious on its own but it can also be served with vegan ice cream or vegan whipped cream.
TIPS FOR MAKING KADAYIF
Make sure to separate the Kadayif noodles properly before adding the melted butter and oil. It is crucial that you separate the Kadayif beforehand so that each noodle is coated in the melted butter - this will give a much crispier and lighter texture.
When it comes to syrup-soaked desserts, it is always crucial to pour warm syrup over a cooled dessert or a cooled syrup over a warm dessert – it doesn’t make much difference which way you do it, just make sure one is cool and one is warm.
Make sure not to cover the Kadayif when it’s warm as it will create steam, and in turn, it’ll become a mushy texture and you’ll lose that delicious crispness.
HOW TO STORE
Syrup-soaked desserts should not be stored in the refrigerator as they can become too firm and lose their crispy texture. I would suggest storing Kadayif and other syrup-soaked desserts at room temperature, in an airtight container and away from direct sunlight. This dessert keeps well for 3-4 days, but it is best served fresh.