Just thinking of this dessert makes Anas Atassi happy. He’s reminded of days of extended family gatherings, of days when we share lunch or dinner with friends. They would order this dessert at the baklava shop. It was made in an enormous pan that probably measured a metre in diameter. The recipe was originally called ‘shabiyat’ and layers phyllo dough with ashta. There is a top layer of nuts, and then all the layers are soaked in atter before it is cut into small triangles. Anas’s version plays with the original a bit: the filling is made with raspberries and nuts, and the layers are rolled up into a large spiral.
WHAT YOU NEED
24 sheets of fresh phyllo dough (40 x 50cm)
250g (1 cup) of butter (melted)
1kg of ashta
100g (¾ cup) of pistachios (finely chopped)
300g (1¼ cups) of raspberries (reserve a handful for garnishing)
Round springform or metal cake pan
WHAT TO DO
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Your work surface should be extremely clean and dry. Lay the first sheet of phyllo dough on the surface with the long side closest to you. Brush the edges with some melted butter and place two sheets of phyllo dough on top of this first sheet. Brush more melted butter on the sheets to have them stick together. You now have a triple layer.
Quickly spoon 125g of ashta in a 5cm wide strip in the centre of and down the entire length of the phyllo sheets. Leave a border of 5cm on each side. Sprinkle chopped pistachios over the ashta and press a couple of raspberries into the filling.
Fold the bottom edge of the phyllo dough over the filling. Press on it lightly. Brush some melted butter on the remaining dough that is not covering the filling. Fold the side edges of the dough towards the inside and then roll up the dough so that all the filling is completely encased in the phyllo roll. Repeat with the other sheets and the rest of the filling to make eight long phyllo rolls.
Grease the round springform pan with some melted butter. Start forming the phyllo spiral by circling one phyllo roll in the centre of the springform pan. Be careful to not tear the dough, otherwise the filling will leak out while baking.
Add the other phyllo rolls to continue and complete the spiral, connecting the start of one roll to the end of the previous roll. You might need to make the spiral somewhat tighter in order to fit in all the rolls into the pan.
Brush the top of the spiral with the rest of the melted butter and bake for 30–35 minutes in the oven, until golden brown and flaky.
Take the pan out of the oven and immediately drizzle half of the atter over the spiral, so that it is absorbed by the pastry. Reserve the rest of the syrup for serving.
Decorate the shabiyat with extra pistachios and the reserved raspberries. Serve at room temperature. Cut into slices and drizzled with a touch of atter.