Ingredients

SYRUP & KATAIFI LAYER
220g sugar
2 long strips of lemon zest (no pith)
1 small cassia or cinnamon stick
160g kataifi pastry
110g butter, melted
CUSTARD
4 egg yolks
100g sugar
1 scant teaspoon vanilla extract
85g cornflour
900ml full-cream milk
40g butter
WHIPPED CREAM
450ml thin (whipping) cream
2½ teaspoons sugar
few drops of vanilla extract
about 25g shelled unsalted pistachios, chopped quite fine
glacé cherries, to serve (1 per portion)

There are a couple of different versions of ekmek. I love it with a kataifi pastry base. Any way that you make this, the result is a delicious, exaggerated heap of cream and pastry. A layer of syrup-soaked kataifi pastry or sponge. A layer of custard. A duvet of whipped cream and a sprinkling of pistachios. I love this served in the old-style pastry shops of Greece, where it is often very sweet. I try to make it a dash less sweet when I make it at home, and eat it in small pieces. It is lovely served chilled from the fridge and surprisingly refreshing when cold. It does need time in the fridge before serving to settle together. Serve with a glacé (or sour) cherry on top of each square.

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Instructions

1.Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2.To prepare the syrup, put the sugar, 250ml (1 cup) water, the lemon zest and cinnamon stick into a small pot and bring to the boil.
3.Simmer for a few minutes, then remove to cool completely.
4.For the pastry, unravel the kataifi pastry, working through it with your fingers as though you are working with wool and separating clumps.
5.Spread it out onto the bottom of a 22 x 30cm roasting dish.
6.Pour the butter over, working it all through your fingers to distribute it quite evenly, then put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden and crisp, turning it through a couple of times during baking so it all becomes evenly gold.
7.Remove from the oven and ladle the cooled syrup over the hot pastry (it will sizzle a bit), then rock the dish gently so it spreads evenly and is absorbed.
8.Transfer to the bottom of a smaller square dish of 22cm – or build a small wall of scrunched-up foil to that size in your regular dish, spreading the pastry out flat and evenly to about 22cm square. Set aside to cool.
9.Meanwhile, prepare the custard. Put the yolks in a large bowl with the sugar and vanilla, and whisk until creamy and thickened.
10.Add the cornflour and whisk until dissolved – adding a couple of splashes of the milk to help it along. Set aside.
11.Pour the rest of the milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, then remove from the heat.
12.Add a small ladleful to the egg mix to acclimatise it, then slowly whisk all the egg mix back into the saucepan of milk.
13.Return it to the heat and cook, whisking continuously, until it is smooth and creamy. It will get thick and form heavy ribbons as you whisk.
14.Remove from the heat and, still whisking, add the butter, and keep whisking regularly as the custard cools so no lumps form.
15.Give a final energetic whisk to the custard and, before it has cooled and set completely (you won’t be able to spread it then), dollop over the kataifi base and gently even out with a metal spatula. Put into the fridge to chill.
16.For the whipped cream layer, put the cream into a bowl and whip with electric beaters to soft peaks.
17.Add the sugar and vanilla and continue whisking to firm peaks.
18.Spread over the chilled custard layer and even out the top with a spatula.
19.It can be served immediately, or put back into the fridge to chill before serving.
20.To serve, cut into squares or rectangles, sprinkle a heap of the pistachios over the centre of each piece and add a cherry to each.
21.Put the rest back in the fridge, covered, to serve cold.

Images and text from
Now & Then by Tessa
Kiros, photography by
Manos Chatzikonstantis.
Murdoch Books RRP $65.

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