Mediterranean Filo Pie

From issue #8.
Photography by Vanessa Wu.
Mediterranean Filo Pie

Filo pastry is challenging to make, but fortunately it is readily available in packs of individual sheets. When using, take care to keep well covered as it dries out quickly when exposed to the air. Kataifi pastry is a shredded pastry available from Middle Eastern stores.

Serves: 8


8 sheets filo pastry
200 grams kataifi pastry or another 8 sheets of filo
100 grams butter, melted

2 1⁄2 cups milk 1⁄2 cup semolina
1⁄4 cup sugar fine
zest of 2 lemons
3⁄4 cup sultanas
1⁄4 cup marsala or brandy
1 tablespoon cornflour
1⁄4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄4 cup chopped pistachios
4 tablespoons water
1⁄4 cup honey
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
33cm x 23cm shallow Swiss roll tin, lightly greased


Filling: Place the milk, semolina, 1⁄4 cup sugar, lemon zest, sultanas and the marsala in a saucepan and cook, stirring frequently over a medium heat until the mixture thickens. Cook for 2 minutes then remove and cool for 15 minutes. Whisk together the cornflour, 1⁄4 cup sugar and the eggs. Add this to the semolina mixture and combine well. Place over a gentle heat, stirring until it becomes very thick. Do not boil. Remove and stir in the vanilla and pistachios. Cool.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Lay one sheet of filo on a clean, dry bench and brush lightly with melted butter. Repeat with the remaining 7 sheets of filo, laying them on top of each other. Press the filo into the tin, trimming off any excess overhang.
Spread the cold filling over the pastry and smooth the top. If using kataifi, gently pull the pastry apart – it is usually in 3 bunches. Place in a large bowl and toss with the remaining butter, gently lifting the strands and letting them drop into the bowl. Lay the katifi over the filling, keeping it loose. If using filo, butter and layer the pastry as before and gently score the top with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden. Immediately pour the cooled syrup over the top of the pie.

Syrup: Combine the water, honey and sugar in a small pot, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil then remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Allow to cool.

To serve: Allow at least 4 hours before cutting the pie, but it is best if made the day before. Serves 8