Fatayer Recipe

Many of the English language recipes I’ve seen for fatayer call for bread flour, which I think is a mistake. Lower gluten is what we need here, so all-purpose is definitely the way to go (Italian 00 flour is ideal for this, but it can be a little hard to get for many of us). Also, I’ve included the option of using buttermilk as the liquid, which may not be strictly authentic, but it gives the dough a nice tang, similar to the yogurt that some contemporary recipes now call for. You’ll want:

16.5 ounces (3 cups) all-purpose or Italian 00 flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
8 ounces water, milk or buttermilk
2.5 ounces (1/3 cup) vegetable oil
egg wash

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Stir on low until all ingredients have been moistened, then switch to the dough hook and knead on medium-low until a smooth dough is created, about five minutes. Cover the dough and allow it to rest about 70 minutes, until it’s about double its size. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the dough has risen, cut it into nineteen 1.5 ounce pieces. Roll the pieces into balls.

To shape, roll a ball out using a pin into a rough circle about six inches across. Spoon about an ounce of filling (recipes below) into the center. Pick a spot at the edge of the circle and pinch the circle inward. Keep pinching until you’ve created a crimp that goes to about center of the circle. Bring the remaining semi-circle of dough inward toward the center and create two more similar crimps by pinching along the dough edges toward the middle of the pie (this will make more sense on the photo tutorial). You’ll have a triangular pie. Continue with the remaining dough circles until they’ve all been shaped.

Paint the pies with egg wash, and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Spinach Filling

This recipe calls for sumac powder, which is easy to find at a Middle Eastern grocery, not so much anywhere else. However a variety of spices will work here to add a touch of Levantine flair: a teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, or paprika, or a combination.

1 lb. 4 ounces fresh or frozen spinach (thawed and drained).
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 ounces (1/4 cup) lemon juice
2 ounces (1/4 cup) olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1 teaspoon sumac powder

Wash the spinach, pat it dry, and chop it into small pieces (roughly one inch across). Combine it with all the other ingredients in a medium bowl and stir together. This filling will hold for up to a day in the refrigerator. Fills about 20 fatayers.

Cheese Filling

Now me, I like to add eggs to this, since I like a more custard-y consistency. There seems to be some disagreement as to whether that’s traditional, all I know is I like it. But you decide for yourself.

12 (about 3 cups) ounces crumbled feta cheese
3 eggs lightly beaten (optional)
about 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup pine nuts (not traditional in this filling either, but I like them)

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir them together. This filling can also be made up to a day ahead of time. Fills about 20 fatayers.

Meat Filling

I think ground lamb is ideal here, but you can substitute ground beef if you prefer.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (not crushed in a press)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
16 ounces ground lamb
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
about 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
about 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, allspice, or paprika, or a combination.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and fry about 10 seconds, the add the chopped onion. Cook until the onion starts to soften, then add the lamb. Break up the meat and cook until it loses its raw look. Add the salt. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool before adding the parsley and pine nuts. Refrigerated, this filling can be made up to two days ahead of time. Fills about 20 fatayers.


13 thoughts on “Fatayer Recipe”

  1. I am looking forward to you fatayers! Can I offer some suggestions?
    This looks more like a traditional dough recipe. Nowadays, we usually add some milk powder (for flavour) or yogurt (for softer pies). Some people also use softer flour. Feel free to experiment.
    I love that you added the spinach filling, it is my favourite! If you cannot find sumac, try to find pomegranate molasses (it is tangy with some sweetness), a couple of tablespoons would be great. By the way, a tablespoon of sumac is too much, if it is authentic a teaspoon would suffice, it is VERY powerful. As for the pine nuts, chopped toasted walnuts make a good substitute (more affordable and easier to find)
    One more suggestion: try a simple cheese filling: just the feta with some chopped fresh parsley and mint or dill, no eggs or nuts or spices, perhaps just black pepper. Eggs tend to make the cheese rubbery, though it is sometimes preferred that way, so they’re optional. Nuts are not common but I think they will work. Oh, and the cheese pies are usually made into square shapes with an opening in the middle, or a boat shape, the triangular shape is just for the spinach ones. You can check these pictures:
    shorturl.at/eszK8
    shorturl.at/kmtZ0
    Good luck!

    1. Hey Jasmine!

      Thanks for the help! I do appreciate the suggestions. I did see versions of the dough made with yogurt, though the ones we loved so much from our old neighborhood bakery were definitely made in the older style. That said, I’ll put up the option of substituting milk or buttermilk (which these days is basically a pourable nonfat yogurt). Both of those will work without my having to change the proportions at all.

      I’ll make the adjustment to the cheese filling (even though I confess I like a more custard-like cheese filling!). And yes, I was thinking about doing the other shapes as well. We’ll see what time permits!

      Thanks again for the expert assistance!

      Joe

    1. Hey Jasmine! I suspected the word was plural, but could not find the singular in English. Help me!

      – Joe

      1. Hi!
        The singular is fateera 🙂
        “Fatayer recipe” makes sense and sounds much better than, say, fateeras or something …
        I left another comment before that one but cannot see it. Did you get it?

        1. Nevermind, I see it now.
          And now I’ve spammed your comments section.. I hope it is helping.

  2. Hi Joe,
    I made your fatayer today, just to have in the freezer for a quick lunch. Absolutely delightful! The dough was super soft and came together faultlessly. The fillings, easily made during the first rise of the dough, were well balanced and tasty. One bite and we were back in Turkey…well, in our minds. Thank you!

    1. You have no idea how good that makes me feel, Sandra. So glad they worked so well, and thank you for writing in with the results!

      Cheers,

      Joe

  3. OMG, I am new to your site but just reading this recipe brought back such great memories of my Lebanese grandmother. No sumac in hers, but allspice and cinnamon. I can’t wait to make them.

    1. Let me know what you think, Nancy! Nothing can ever equal grandma’s, but I’ll be curious how well they match up to your memory!

      Cheers,

      Joe

  4. Hi Joe
    I’m very interested in making these as they seem similar to the delicious meat pies my Lebanese neighbor has shared with me. During our stay at home adventure we’ve been sharing food to break the monotony. She sends me lovely Middle Eastern food that is new to me and I send her family desserts of all kinds. Today it is Boston Cream Pie as I happily have a surplus of milk. But I digress . . .

    My question is about the weight of the flour in his recipe. I thought the weight of one cup of flour was 4.5 ounces but this comes out to 5.5 ounces and I wondered if I’ve been wrong all this time.

    Thanks
    Linda

    1. Hey Linda!

      Thats a good question. Flour weights vary quite a bit depending on what type it is. A finely ground, airy flour like pastry flour takes up more room in a cup than, say, a bread flour. So pastry flour tends to be more like 4.5 ounces per cup. A bread flour is more like 5.5 ounces per cup. AP is somewhere in the middle, 5.25 or so ounces per cup. But it all depends on how hard you scoop it, whether you pat it down, etc.

      I’ve been measuring AP at 5.5 ounces per cup lately, with good results. But do what works for you!

      Cheers,

      – Joe

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