Ever since I have been a Daring Baker, I wanted to make baklava...never did I think that would mean making my own filo dough. However, that was what we were called to do this month...and it was SO worth it! Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge.
1 1/3 cups (320 ml) (185 gm/6½ oz) unbleached all purpose (plain) flour
1/8 teaspoon (2/3 ml) (¾ gm) salt
1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) rice vinegar
In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt and mix with paddle attachment. Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and mix on low speed until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water. Change to the dough hook and let 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 30-90 minutes, longer is best ( I let mine rest 2 hours and it was perfect)
Rolling your Phyllo: ** Remove all rings and jewelry so it does not snag the dough**
Use whatever means you have to get the dough as thin as you can. Use your rolling pin or a wooden dowel. You may also use a pasta machine if you have one. Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger then a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the other 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. Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out. Roll quickly, rotating the dough as you go 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.
Baklava Recipe: Adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network
For the syrup:
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) honey
1 1/4 cups (300ml) water
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 (2-inch/50 mm) piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best) - I used orange extract
When you put your baklava in the oven start making your syrup. When you combine the two, one of them needs to be hot, I find it better when the baklava is hot and the syrup has cooled
Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Once boiled for 10 minutes remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks.
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (8 gm) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) almonds
3/4 cup (180 ml) (155 gm/5½ oz) walnuts
1 cup (180 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) raw or roasted pistachios
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm/ 5 1/3 oz) sugar
phyllo dough (see recipe above)
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225g/8 oz) melted butter (I used about 3/4 cup)
Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
Combine nuts, sugar and spices in a food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor chop with a sharp knife as fine as you can.
Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet. Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade phyllo is thicker so it's not needed). Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top. Continue layering and buttering phyllo 5 more times. On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of phyllo with no holes if possible, just looks better. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance.
With a Sharp knife cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces. If you can't cut all the ways through don’t worry you will cut again later. A 9x9 pan cuts nicely into 30 pieces. Then brush with a generous layer of butter making sure to cover every area and edge. Bake for approximately 30 minutes; remove from oven and cut again this time all the way through. Continue baking for another 30 minutes. (Oven temperatures will vary, you are looking for the top to be a golden brown, take close watch yours may need more or less time in the oven)
When baklava is cooked remove from oven and pour the cooled (will still be warmish) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to cover all surfaces when pouring.