Knefe (Kunafeh) is a traditional Lebanese dessert that is served for breakfast. It is sweet pastry stuffed with gooey cheese and soaked with sugar syrup. It is very famous in the Middle East, especially in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. It is very similar to the Greek Kadaifi and the Turkish tel Kadayef.
My recipe of gluten-free Knefe is delicious and as good as the traditional one. Don’t deprive yourselves of Knefe anymore. Try it and enjoy it for breakfast!


Yields 10 portions

- 300 grams white hard cheese or string cheese (Like salty Akkawi or majdouli) 
  You can also use grated Mozzarella with no salt if hard white cheese is not available (no       
  need to soak the mozzarella, but the taste will not be as authentic)
- 300 grams breadcrumbs (I made gluten free white loaf bread the night before and ground it in the electric food processor)
- 100 grams soft butter

- 2 grams mastic gum (or meska) crushed with 1 tsp of sugar
- 1/3 cup polenta
- 450 ml or 2 cups milk
- 1 tbsp. rose water
- 1 tbsp. orange blossom water

The Syrup
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. rose water
- 1 tbsp. orange blossom water


Stage 1: Two days earlier
  1. Slice the white cheese into thin slices and soak them in clean water for two days.
  2. Change the water every 3 hours the first day and every 6 hours the second day.
  3. Taste the cheese and make sure there is no taste of salt at all.
  4. Keep the cheese in the fridge at all times.
  5. Put the cheese in a strainer in the fridge overnight until all the liquid is gone.
  6. In case the cheese was still wet, pat it dry with kitchen paper towels.
  7. The cheese will be gooey and soft.

Stage 2:
  1. Put the breadcrumbs and soft butter in a bowl.
  2. Mix with your hands or in the food processor until you get a paste.
  3. Spread the paste in a round oven tray.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and bake the crust for around 30 minutes or until it’s golden brown from both sides.

Stage 3:
  1. Meanwhile, put the polenta and the milk in a saucepan on the heat.
  2. Cook the polenta until it absorbs all the milk and it starts bubbling.
  3. Put off the heat and add the mastic gum, orange blossom water, and rose water.
  4. Mix well and keep aside for few minutes.

Stage 4:
  1. Once the crust is golden brown, take out from the oven, lay the cheese on it and add the polenta and milk mixture.
  2. Make sure the cheese and the polenta mix covers all the crust.
  3. Put back in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and thick.
  4. Take out from the oven and wait for 15 minutes before you turn it into a serving plate.
  5. Pour the warm syrup on top of the Knefe and serve warm.

The Syrup
  1.  Put the sugar and water in a saucepan. 
  2. Bring to a boil and add the lemon juice.
  3. Lower the heat and let it simmer for few minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and add the orange blossom water and rose water.
  5. Let it cool for 30 minutes before you pour it over the knefe.