The best fatayer I ever had were in England years and years ago and they were baked by a Saudi lady. The bread was very soft and light with a delicious, slightly sour spinach filling.
Since then, I have had them many times here in Saudi Arabia with various fillings but often the bread is a little dry or just ordinary. I have been wanting to try making ftayer myself but needed just the right dough recipe. It was when I found Ree Drummond’s Cinnamon Rolls recipe recently that I thought I might be onto something.
For these savoury pastries, I used a quarter of her stated amounts and also reduced the sugar content from 1/4 cup to 1 teaspoon.
- 280 ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 cups (plus 1/4 cup extra, separated) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon (scant) baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat the milk, oil and sugar in the microwave until lukewarm.
Sprinkle the yeast over this mixture and leave for a few minutes.
Sift 2 cups of flour into the milk/oil mix and stir until well combined. Leave in a warm place for 1 hour.
Add the extra 1/4 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well. If the dough seems too wet you may need to add another 1/4 cup of flour. What you should have is a very soft dough which remains a little sticky. You will need to flour the worktop well when working with this dough.
With this dough I was able to make 11 spinach fatayir, 7 feta cheese fatayir and 3 mini pizzas. I used a small ball of the dough weighing 25-30g for each one.
For 11 spinach fatayir I used:
- 1 small onion grated
- 150g cooked and chopped spinach
- 1/2-1 teaspoon sumac (depending on your taste)
- 1/4 tsp salt (again, to your taste)
- 1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses
NB: If you can’t get sumac or pomegrante molasses (you can use one or the other if you only have one of them) use lemon juice instead. Squeeze lemon juice over the cooked spinach and onion, mix well and stop when the taste is sour to your liking.
Fry the onion in a tbsp of oil until soft and then add the cooked spinach, salt, sumac and pomegranate molasses and combine well. My spinach was cooked and cooled straight from the fridge so I was able to use it to fill the pastries immediately. If you have just cooked the spinach you will need to cool the mixture before using it.
Take a 25-30g ball of the dough and place onto a well floured worktop. Using your fingers push it out to form a circle about 3 inches in diameter.
Place a teaspoonful of the spinach filling in the middle.
Bring two edges of the dough together to form the top of a triangle and then bring the lower portion of the dough up, squeeze gently with your fingers to seal. Since the dough is a little sticky you shouldn’t need any egg to seal the edges.
Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400F until golden
For the feta fatayir:
Take a 25-30g piece of the dough and gently flatten into an oblong about 2″x4″, use a well floured rolling pin if necessary.
Take a teaspoon of feta and roll it into a small log and place in the middle of the dough.
Bring the top portion of the dough forward, keeping the filling revealed, bring up the lower portion and pinch at the edges to make a kind of boat shape.
Still pinching the edges, lift and place on the greased baking sheet.
Bake at 400F until golden.
For the mini pizzas:
Take a 25-30g ball of the dough, flatten into a small disc and spread with a little pizza sauce and some grated cheddar. You could also add chopped olives.
Bake as above.
For jubna (cheese) fatayir, take a 25-30g ball of dough, flatten into a disc of around 3″ diameter. Place a teaspoon of grated cheddar into the centre and fold into a semi-circle.
Bake as above.