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Making Fatayer

When you set out to make fatayer you might as well make a lot of them, because a.) it’s hard to stop eating them and b.) they keep. Spinach fatayer like these will keep at room temperature for a couple of days, refrigerated for over a week, and frozen well over a month. But odds are they won’t be around that long. Like most hand pies, they’re so convenient and travel so well that you’ll find yourself taking them everywhere with you.

These closed triangles are the most convenient from a portability standpoint, though the triangle shape is traditionally reserved for the spinach fateera (thanks to reader Jasmine, both for that information and for providing me with correct singular spelling of the word). I’ll demonstrate the three shapes I know as we go along. For now, assemble your ingredients, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and let’s get going.

Combine your dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle.

Whisk that together briefly.

I find it’s convenient to combine the milk and oil at this point…

…before pouring them into the dry ingredient mixture.

Stir that together until everything is moistened.

You can knead by hand from here or attach the dough hook and let the machine to the work. Which do you think I prefer?

Once that’s done, let the dough sit until doubled or so. This is about 70 minutes on a cool day. If the outside temperature is above 75 degrees, you won’t have to wait as long. The main thing is for the dough to feel soft and a little airy when you poke it.

Because I’m sorta uptight, I like to measure my portions. One and a half ounces of dough makes a pie of the size you might eat for an afternoon snack. Joan wants you to know that she did the math on the dough, and pies of this size are just over 200 calories each when filled. So it seems I‘m not the only one measuring around here. The chips don’t fall very far from the stump It seems.

Here forming a ball is a good idea (that way, when you roll the pieces out you get a smoother finish). I’ll warn you that the dough is a little oily, so it doesn’t roll into balls the way a leaner bun or dinner roll dough will. So you’ll need to improvise a bit. Here I’m basically just gathering loose edges and pinching them together on one side of the ball.

The action stretches the dough around the surface of the ball to create a smooth-ish surface.

Set that ball down smooth-side up and you’re good to go. Roll the dough out to circle about six inches across. Depending on how elastic your dough is, you may have to work at it a bit (here Italian 00 flour is a real help). If the circle keep snapping back, just rest the half-finished circles for ten minutes or so, then roll them the rest of the way.

When ready to fill, spoon about a tablespoon of filling into the middle. That’s about 3/4 of an ounce according to Joan. Thanks Joan!

Now me, I like a moist edge for secure sealing. It’s just something I do. I dip my finger in water and spread it around the edge.

To shape, start by pinching the outside edge of the circle.

Continue to pinch along the edge you have created. Look! Two hands! I bet you didn’t know I had two of them. Another benefit of having a sidekick: you have twice the usual number of photographers.

Pinch until you’ve covered about half the filling.

To complete the triangle, begin pinching again where the folded-over dough meets the outside edge.

Pinch to the middle.

Repeat with the un-pinched seam. When you have achieved true Jedi fateera mastery, you’ll be able to do both the second and third seams at once, pinching toward the middle with both hands.

A final pinch at the intersection of the seams will close the the center.

Lay your fatayer out on a lined sheet pan and paint them with egg wash.

No proofing is necessary, just go ahead and bake them about 15 minutes until they’re about at this point. Perfecto!

Here they are, artistically displayed and photographed. Thank you once again young Joan!

While the highly portable and conveniently sealed triangle shape will in theory hold any of the fillings, other open shapes are more traditional for, say, meat or cheese. This “boat” shape for instance:

For this shape you want to roll your dough ball out into an oblong shape.

Pour on the filling, and pinch the dough together starting at the pointy end. Stop after two or three good crimps.

Do the same on the other side, then gently stretch and point-ify (empointen?) the tips a bit, and you’re done. Paint with egg wash and bake.

This square shape is good for for either meat or cheese, but is especially nice for cheese. Cheese gives off a good amount of steam as it bakes, which can cause an enclosed packet to pop open. Not that I’ve ever done that, you understand. I’m strictly authentic in whatever I attempt. I also make sure I know how to spell everything correctly too, before I start. Ehem.

Start by spooning your filling into the middle of a dough circle.

Fold the top and bottom edges inward a bit…

…then pinch at the corners.

A little bit oblong, but close enough for ja — er, howara. And something key here if you’re making lots of cheese fatayer, remember that cheese doesn’t freeze well.

Joan adds:

Pro tip: keep an icy glass of water with a long straw near you while you are making these pies. That way, when you’re thirsty, you can just lean over and take a sip without having to interrupt your pie shaping (rinsing off your flour-coated hands and so on). It’s a win win! I also suggest spending the extra money on a metal straw, versus the paper ones can only be used once. My dad thinks metal straws are silly, but I like them. Have fun with the pies! They are delicious.

10 thoughts on “Making Fatayer”

  1. It’s going to have to wait for the weekend – the heat index in WNY is into the 90s for the next couple days and I haven’t put the AC in yet – but I will have to add these to the list. They look amazing and I’m somewhat addicted to hand pies to start with.

    And I love Joan’s commentary!

    1. Joan is a practical young lady, Jane! I’ll pass the word. Let me know how the pies turn out!

      – Joe

  2. Beautiful. At first glance I thought they were deep fried! (Glad they are not.) And your daughter is indeed a very clever (and talented) young lady.

    1. Hey Chana!

      Thank you and that’s a good catch: they do look fried. That’s because of the oil in the dough. It gives them a sheen, not to mention a very unique texture and flavor. You’ll like them.

      And I shall give young Ms. Pastry your compliments! Thanks again!



    1. Ha! OK Jasmine, let me know if they’re up to snuff. I sure appreciate all your help!



      1. I made these! The dough was lovely to work with, I took a part of it after a short rest and made it into lahmachun (not the traditional crust but good enough for me, I didn’t want to prepare two recipes…) they were great. Then something came up and I couldn’t continue so I chilled the dough for a day. Today I took it out and made the spinach fatayer. I used half whole wheat flour (chakki atta to be exact) and a mixture of yogurt and water for the liquid, and I’m amazed by the result; they browned nicely and were pleasantly soft. I am happy I made so many! This dough will definitely become a staple in my house. As for the filling, it was great, very much like what we buy from the bakery, but I do prefer my filling cooked first so I guess that’s what I’ll do next time. Still, the simplicity is appealing.OIt is a long comment but I do hope my notes will help someone else.
        Thanks Joe!

        1. Jasmine!

          I am most gratified. Thank you. And I’m going to try your variation as I know quite a few fatayer doughs are made with mixtures of whole wheat flour. Thanks once again for your very useful input!

          – Joe

    1. Thanks so much Suzette! I shall spend some time at your blog this week..looks exactly like my kind of thing! 😉


      – Joe

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