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Daktyla (Ladies’ fingers)

Daktyla (Ladies’ fingers)

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Daktyla, also called daktyla kyrion (meaning ladies fingers) is the most popular Cypriot dessert made with phyllo which is very crisp and very juicy, filled with almonds, cinnamon and sugar. 

They are fried and then drenched in syrup, scented with anthonero (orange blossom water), which make them irresistible.  

Daktyla is a very old recipe with a few ingredients but so delicious. 

As most of the Cypriot traditional recipes, these were made with simple everyday ingredients which they usually had at home.  

This is one of the many Cypriot specialties offered during the pre-lenten period  called “Sikoses” in Cyprus.  

However, we often eat daktyla during Lent, as they are vegan. In the recipe I added some honey to the syrup, but this is optional.

Cypriot Daktyla ladies' fingers image

The word “sikoses” derives from the verb σηκώνω = sikono, meaning lifting. 

Sikoses is the ten day period before lent when the lifting of all the meat takes place before Easter. 

daktyla cut picture

Making daktyla used to be quite a difficult job, having to roll out the dough  into very thin phyllo by hand but nowadays it is much easier using a pasta machine, although the procedure is time consuming as it takes some time to make them.    

My mother image
My mother at the age of 55

I remember my mother would make them quite often and she used to roll out the phyllo the traditional way, by hand. 

She always needed some help and she would call me to help, as by the time I was 10 -12 years old  shes was about 55 years old and suffered from rheumatism.  

The remaining five siblings were either married or lived abroad. 

The youngest of them all was my brother and he was seven years older than I and my first sister was  seventeen years older than me, so I was the only one left to help her.  

At the beginning she would tell me to press the edges with a fork and gradually year by year I helped her even more.

I eventually learned to roll out the phyllo by myself. Later on, when I got married, I bought a pasta machine, which made things much easier.

Daktyla and pischies image

Instead of making the syrup from scratch, I sometimes love using my leftover syrups when making “glyka tou koutaliou” (Greek fruit preserves).  

You should try them especially with bergamot syrup, as the taste is amazing!

This and many more Cypriot recipes are included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!

The Almond stuffed pastries called Daktyla are my entry for Let’s go Nuts with Almonds, hosted by JZ, of Tasty Treats.

I am also sending this recipe to In My Box, hosting this month’s Sugar High Fridays #53, created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess.

Daktyla and pischies image

Daktyla (Ladies’ fingers)

Yield: 100
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Daktyla, also called daktyla kyrion (meaning ladies fingers) is the most popular Cypriot dessert made with phyllo which is very crisp and very juicy, filled with almonds, cinnamon and sugar.  They are fried and then drenched in syrup, scented with anthonero (orange blossom water), which make them irresistible.

Ingredients

  • 500 grams all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mild olive oil
  • 200 ml water (about 1 cup)
  • Mild olive oil or peanut oil for frying

Filling:

  • 1½ cups almonds, skin on, finely ground
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 2 - 3 tbsp citrus blossom water

Syrup:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp Greek thyme honey (optional)
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 – 6 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 2 tbsp citrus blossom water

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dough and set aside to rest.
  2. Put the sugar, honey, water, cinnamon stick, cloves and lemon peel in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon, cloves and lemon peel and add the lemon juice and blossom water and let it cool.
  3. Finely pound the almonds but do not powder them and mix with sugar, cinnamon, and as much of blossom water to make them hold together.
  4. Roll out the dough to make a very thin phyllo. Make a long piece of phyllo with width not more than 6 cm (2½”). Place about 1 tsp of filling at the edge and roll twice to the shape of a finger.
  5. Cut with a knife and press the edges firmly with a fork to seal. You can also make one large phyllo and add the filling alongside leaving gaps between each other about 4 cm (1½”).
  6. The remaining procedure is the same: roll it twice, cut it lengthwise, separate among the gaps, cut and then press with a fork.
  7. Place them on a floured surface not too close to each other because they may stick together. Cover first layer with cling film and add another layer on top.
  8. Heat plenty of olive oil in a frying pan and fry on both sides, until golden. Remove in the syrup until the other batch is fried.
  9. Remove to a colander for a few seconds and then place on a platter.

Notes

Note: Although it is a very simple dessert, it is best to have help during the frying procedure as they fry very quickly. They have to be placed in the syrup immediately and removed quickly to a strainer as the next batch will be already frying in the pan.

Nutrition Information
Yield 100 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 58Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 23mgCarbohydrates 10gFiber 0gSugar 5gProtein 1g

"These values are automatically calculated and offered for guidance only. Their accuracy is not guaranteed."

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Koulla

Saturday 13th of February 2010

I bought your cookbook and made them. No words to describe how delicious there were! Regards from London, Koulla

Fred

Friday 27th of March 2009

A recipe that's about 2000 years old ?! Amazing !

Núria

Tuesday 10th of March 2009

Dearest Ivy, You will think I'm so rude! I haven't said anything for a while!!!! Sorry girl... I don't spend as much time in front of my Pc lately plus I feel a bit lazy about blogging... Hopefully the excitement will come back soon.

Your lady fingers look so tasty and crunchy... Mmmmmm :D

Abigail

Tuesday 10th of March 2009

Those look SO yummy and I can just imagine them with that hint of bitter orange water. Yum! And thank you for the cuteness award - how fun!

Lisa

Saturday 7th of March 2009

Well worth the effort I am sure!

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