Adapted from Claudia Roden, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
Quantity: About 12 large stuffed; about 30+ flat pancakes
1 1⁄2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1⁄2 cups warm water (110o)
1 1⁄3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1⁄2 cups sugar
1 1⁄4 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons orange-blossom or rose water
2 cups coarsely ground or chopped almonds (or, more commonly walnuts)
3-4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
And, vegetable oil for frying
For the batter:
1.Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in 1⁄2 cup of the water. Let it stand in a warm place for 10 minutes or until it froths.
2.Put the flour in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture and the remaining water gradually, beating vigorously, to make a creamy, lump-free batter.
3.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour. The soft, almost
liquid batter will rise, becoming bubbly and a little elastic.
4.Prepare the syrup while the dough is rising or earlier.
For the syrup:
1.Bring the water to ta boil with the sugar and lemon juice and simmer for 10 minutes, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
2.Then, stir in the orange-blossom or rose water and simmer for a few seconds more.
3.Allow to cool, then chill in the refrigerator.
For the filling:
1.Mix 2 cups coarsely ground almonds or walnuts with 3-4 tablespoons sugar, and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.
For stuffing and frying the atayef:
1.When the batter is ready, rub a nonstick skillet with oil to grease with a thin film. Heat the skillet until it is very hot, then reduce the heat to medium.
2.Pour 1⁄4 cup of batter into the skillet on a medium heat to form a 4-5 inch pancake. Tilt the pan or use a spoon to spread the batter into a round. Fry only one side of the pancake. Allowing one side to remain uncooked makes it possible to form the pancake in a crescent shape around the filling. The pancake will bubble and darken. When easily lifted from the pan, lay it on a clean cloth or plate for stuffing.
3.Place enough stuffing in the middle of each pancake on the uncooked side.
4.Fold the pancake over to form a crescent shape and pinch the edges firmly together to maintain the filling inside.
5.Deep fry, a few at a time in at least 350o, medium-hot oil about 1 inch deep, until pale brown. Turn them over.
6.Remove with a perforated spoon and drain on paper towels.
7.Dip them in the syrup while still hot and serve hot or cold. Or serve them with syrup on the side to let guests dribble on syrup.
8.Or, prepare them ahead of time and warm, covered, in the oven.