My friend Cenk Sönmeszoy first told me about katmer— a square pastry that contains several layers of dough as well as clotted Turkish cream, sugar, and finely chopped pistachios —and sent me links to videos of some very skilled bakers who throw the dough around like a bedsheet to make it larger and thinner. The method here is simplified but gives excellent results. Make a batch of katmer to celebrate Eid al-Adha, which falls on September 1 this year.
Makes two 9-inch square katmer, about 6 servings
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry-measure cup and level)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vegetable or light olive oil, plus more for rolling the dough
2 ounces kaymak (Turkish clotted cream; see Note)
6 ounces unsalted very green pistachios, finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
- For the dough, stir the flour and salt together in the bowl of an electric mixer.
- Use a fork to beat together the egg and oil in a 1-cup liquid measure, then add enough warm water to make 2/3 cup. (Or place a bowl on the scale, set it to zero, and add the eggs, oil, and enough water to make 150 grams.) Use a rubber spatula to stir the liquid and the flour together. Scrape the bowl and spatula, then beat the dough on the lowest speed using the dough hook, until it begins to turn smooth, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
- Beat the dough on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 1 minute. Then scrape the dough onto an oiled surface, and repeatedly smack it against the table, folding and kneading it between smacks. After smacking the dough against the work surface 100 times, knead it together and divide it into 2 pieces, each about 225 grams.
- Round, then oil the pieces of dough. Place them close together on a plate and cover them with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours; longer is better.
- Set a rack at the middle level in the oven and preheat to 450°F. Lightly oil 2 jelly-roll pans.
- Oil a smooth work surface and the dough and roll it as thinly as possible. Once the dough is rolled, oil the top of it again. Starting at the edge closest to you, lift the edge of the dough and pull it thinner toward you. Continue around each side of the dough, lifting and pulling thinner as you do, until the dough is approximately an 18-inch square.
- Tear or cut the thick edges from the dough, then fold it inward on 4 sides to make a 12-inch square. Dot the surface of the dough with half of the kaymak, followed with half each of pistachios and sugar.
- Fold the corners of the square in toward the center, overlapping them slightly—you’ll have an approximately 9-inch square. Slide the katmer onto one of the prepared pans, then repeat the process with the remaining piece of dough. Bake until deep golden and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Slide each katmer to a cutting board and cut into 2-inch squares. Slide the squares onto a platter and serve immediately.
NOTE: Kaymak, made from the cream that solidifies on the surface when milk is boiled to make yogurt, is available both fresh and frozen in Middle Eastern grocery stores.