Monday, June 27, 2011

But I didn't infuse the rosewater.


This month's challenge? Baklava. From scratch.

I've pondered making baklava for a long time now, and I may even have a box of phyllo sheets tucked into the back of the freezer. In this challenge, however, we were encouraged to roll our own phyllo. So to make this recipe, I was to prepare a dough, roll it into paper-thin sheets, chop up spices and nuts for a filling, boil a syrupy concoction of citrus and spice, assemble it all, and then transfer the sticky little slices to individual cupcake liners for easy eating. I do have to admit that, while I did use rosewater, I did not infuse it myself - our roses are not currently blooming, so the homemade rosewater will have to wait.

I actually enjoyed it very much. Had to get the hang of the sheet-rolling, and there were some frustrating sheets that were re-rolled so many times that they were probably 90% flour, but I was able to make 18 or so phyllo sheets (not quite paper sheet-thin. Bedsheet-thin, maybe).


Blog-checking lines: Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

For the full recipe/instructions and lots of helpful tips, click on this .pdf.

So the process goes like this:

Phyllo dough

2 2/3 cups flour (use 00 flour for the smoothest dough)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup less 2 Tbsp water, plus more if needed
4 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1 tsp cider vinegar

1 cup melted butter or, preferably, clarified butter (for assembly)

Baklava filling

 1 cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces, or 2 tsp ground cinnamon
15 to 20 whole allspice berries or 1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 1/4 cup of mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamia - I used some almonds, lots of pistachios, and macadamia)
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm/ 5 1/3 oz) sugar

Syrup

1 1/4 cups honey
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 2-inch piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best)
1 cinnamon stick
3-4 cloves or a pinch of ground clove
1/2 tsp rosewater (optional)
{I used a tsp or so of ras el hanout instead of clove. It was good but not necessary}


Prepare your phyllo

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt. Mix with paddle attachment

Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Add water & oil mixture on low speed, mix until you get a soft dough. If it appears dry, add a little more water.
Change to the dough hook and knead approximately 10 minutes. You will end up with beautiful smooth dough. If you are kneading by hand, knead approx. 20 minutes.
Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead for 2 more minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard on the counter a few times during the kneading process.

Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes, though longer is better ( I let mine rest 2 hours and it was perfect).
 Make the filling

Combine nuts, sugar and spices in a food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 390F.

Roll your phyllo

** Remove all rings and jewelry so they do not snag the dough**


Use whatever means you have to get the dough as thin as you can.  There is a fantastic video at the end of the .pdf on how to roll out your phyllo dough using a wooden dowel. You may also use a pasta machine if you have one, or a normal rolling pin whatever works for you. I didn't have a wooden dowel, but I had a lovely husband who scoured the house for a dowel-like instrument and came up with the drumsticks from Rock Band! It might have been a bit narrow, but I used it in combination with the rolling pin and worked great for me.

Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly smaller then a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the remaining dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.

Be sure to flour your hands, rolling pin and counter. As you roll you will need to keep adding. Don’t worry, you can’t over-flour (This is really important. I couldn't believe how much flour I used to keep the sheet from sticking to itself and the drumstick.).


Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out.

Wrap the dough around your rolling pin/dowel/drumstick.


Roll back and forth quickly with the dough remaining on the dowel.

Remove; notice how much bigger it is!

Rotate and repeat until it is as thin as you can it. Don’t worry if you get rips in the dough; as long as you have one perfect one for the top you will never notice.


Roll out your dough until it is transparent. When you get it as thin as you can with the rolling pin, carefully pick it up with well-floured hands and stretch it on the backs of your hands as you would a pizza dough, just to make it a little thinner. NOTE: you will not get it as thin as the frozen phyllo dough you purchase at the store, which is made by machine.
Set aside on a well-floured surface. Repeat the process until your dough is used up. Between each sheet again flour well. You will not need to cover your dough with a wet cloth, as you do with boxed dough, as it is moist enough that it will not dry out.

Assemble the baklava
Trim your phyllo sheets to fit in your pan. Reserve one tear-free sheet for the top.
Brush bottom of pan with butter.



Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter, place second sheet on top, brush with butter, and repeat 3 more times ending with butter. Transfer the stack of 5 sheets to the pan.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top


Repeat the phyllo and butter layers for 4 sheets, transfer to the pan.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

Repeat the phyllo and butter layers for 4 sheets, transfer to the pan.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

Repeat the phyllo and butter layers for 5 sheets, transfer to the pan.  Make sure you have a piece of phyllo with no holes for the top if possible, because it's prettier that way.

Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to make it look good.


With a sharp knife cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces. If you can't cut all the way through don’t worry because you will cut again later. A 9x9 pan cuts into approximately 30 pieces. Then brush with a generous layer of butter, making sure to cover every area and edge.


Bake for approximately 30 minutes at 390F; remove from oven and cut again this time all the way through. Reduce heat to 350F and continue baking for another 30 minutes.  Reduce heat to 310F and continue baking for 30 more minutes, then increase the heat to 390F and bake for a few minutes to make the top nice and golden brown.

Prepare the syrup

When you put your baklava in the oven start making your syrup. When you combine the two, one of them needs to be hot and the other cooled.

Combine all the syrup ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved
Boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and strain to remove cinnamon stick, cloves, and lemon. Set aside
When the baklava is cooked, remove from the oven and pour the cooled (will still be lukewarm) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to fill all those cuts and cover all surfaces when pouring. You should hear a lovely crackling sound as the syrup hits the hot pastry.

Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled cover and store at room temperature. Allow the baklava to sit overnight to absorb all that delicious syrup.

Serve at room temperature.

5 comments:

  1. I totally understand what you mean about the sheets being 90% flour! mine were like that too..
    Your finished baklava looks amazing
    great job on this month's challenge

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  2. Well done on your bedsheet thin pastry :) Can't believe you transferred all the pieces into cupcake liners, that's very dedicated! The finished baklava looks wonderful.

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  3. Your phyllo sheets are so thin, very nicely done. Great job on your delicious looking baklava!

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  4. Brava! My family won't eat nuts so I passed on this one. I adore baklava, but couldn't see eating the whole pan myself! Yours looks wonderful~

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  5. Fantastic step by step pictures, and your baklava looks amazing!!!

    ReplyDelete