Nothing is as American as apple pie, and a true Midwestern girl that I am, I love everything apple: apple picking, orchards in the fall, caramel apples, cider mills, and of course, apple pie. This epic dessert takes the mouthwatering flavors of juicy, sweet, buttery, apple pie and fuses it with the incredible textures of buttery Egyptian kunafah that my mom makes with nuts, cinnamon, and sugar. Kunafah Apple Pie uses the shredded phyllo dough, known as kataifi, as the crust.
If you read my other kunafah post with vanilla bean creme filling, then you know about how versatile kunafah dessert is. Endless possibilities of fillings for a delicious crust, made this apple pie concoction a no-brainer for me. My mom’s classic kunafah has always been the kataifi dough rolled in butter and filled with an irresistible mixture of nuts, cinnamon, sugar and raisins. She would manipulate the shredded dough and roll it into a beautiful log shape, and it would be served sliced up, soaking in the delicious simple syrup made at home. It smells divine and the flavors of the crunchy, toasted, cinnamon and sugar nuts with this kunafah dough is perfection.
You know that amazing buttery-brown sugar scent that fills the air when you smell cinnamon nuts toasting at a carnival (Navy Pier South Dock!), or when you walk by Garrett’s Popcorn in Chicago? Well, yea, this is what that smells like. And OH MY GOSH I cannot tell you how good it tastes and smells all at once. Try to slow down when enjoying, and refrain from indulging too much so you don’t end up with a stomach ache like I did…The smells, texture, and flavor is just too good. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
This is definitely on my Thanksgiving menu this year, and I also made it to bring to a few dinner parties. It’s that easy to make, and so good to share. I hope you and yours enjoy!
Kunafah Apple Pie
For the Kunafah Crust
- 1 Package of Shredded Phyllo Dough, Kataifi
- 1 c unsalted butter, melted (8 oz or 2 sticks)
For the apple filling
- 5-6 apples, peeled, and chopped
- 2 sticks butter
- 1/2 c flour
- 2 c brown sugar
- 1 1/4 c white sugar
- 3 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 c water
- 1 c chopped pecans and walnuts
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
For the Kunafah crust
- Remove the kataifi dough from the freezer and allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight, or on the counter for a few hours. The dough must be thawed and at room temperature before using.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees (f).
- Separate and loosen the kataifi dough strands in a large bowl. Be sure to cut the long strands of dough with kitchen shears a few times so they aren't too long. Pour 1 cup of the melted butter all over the kataifi dough and rub it gently until all the strands of dough are well coated in the butter, otherwise it will be dry and have no flavor.
- Using half of the dough, press it into a pie pan, pressing up the sides of the pan.
For the filling
- Mound the chopped apples and 1/2 cup of nuts into the center of the pie pan, on top of the kunafah crust.
- Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat.
- Slowly stir in the flour to create a golden paste, making sure to smooth out any lumps with a spoon.
- Add the brown sugar and 1 cup of the white sugar, 1/2 c of water, and cinnamon and stir well.
- Allow the sauce to simmer on low for 3-5 minutes.
Assembly of the Kunafah
- Slowly pour half of the sauce all over the apples and nuts, reserving the other half of it to drizzle on top of the kunafah at the end.
- Using the remainder of the kunafah dough, layer it on top of the apples to cover them completely, making sure to close up the edges of the dough by pressing it together. The dough will be very stringy and parts may stick up. Press them down as best as you can.
- Bake on the lower middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes. (The top of kunafa browns quickly).
- Replace the pot of remaining caramel sauce on the stove at low heat. Add 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 c of white sugar into the remainder of the sauce. Stir it until well incorporated and allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon juice.
- Stir the remainder of the nuts into the caramel sauce.
- After removing the kunafah from the oven, promptly pour the sauce all over the kunafah top.
- Serve warm and enjoy with ice cream, coffee, or tea!