Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Greek to Me!

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.

Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.  Rolling out the filo was quite the experience.  It was actually fairly easy...but very time consuming.  I used my regular rolling pin and lots of flour on top of my coffee table.  It took about an hour to roll out 20 sheets.  The next day, it only took me about 5 seconds to realize why my thumbs were sore and why I had bruises on my knees...rolling out the dough while kneeling on the floor!  HA! 

I decided to do a pretty traditional baklava and used almonds, pistachios, and walnuts for my filling.  The syrup was REALLY sweet, a bit too sweet for me.  However, all my co-workers thought it was just right...I still think I might decrease the sugar in the syrup next time.  Not quite all of it was absorbed, but it wasn't as drenched as I thought.  There was some sitting on top of the baklava, but when I pulled the pieces out, they were perfect and didn't have a lake of syrup sitting underneath.  I took the results to work the next day. 

One of my co-workers, whose mother also makes baklava, told me that it was very good and tasted authentic!  YES!!!  On the other hand, my program director...after getting frustrated with paperwork stuff was told to "just go get a piece of baklava."  His response when told that I brought it...."Hmmm, yeah, she looks Greek."  WHAT!?!??!  You never know the response you'll get from people!  In the end, it's all Greek to me.  Thanks to Erica for the AWESOME challenge!  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Dough Ingredients:

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.

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 helps make it that much thinner. I didn't do this, as my dough was pretty dry and would have broken.  Roll out your dough until it is transparent. NOTE: you will not get it as thin as the frozen phyllo dough you purchase at the store, it is made by machine. Set aside on a well-floured surface. Repeat the process until your dough is used up. Between each sheet again flower well. You will not need to cover your dough with a wet cloth, as you do with boxed dough, it is moist enough that it will not try out.
Baklava Recipe: Adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network
30 servings


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. 

Ingredients for the Filling:

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.

It looks like it is a lot but over night the syrup will soak into the baklava creating a beautifully sweet and wonderfully textured baklava!

Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled cover and store at room temperature. Allow the baklava to sit overnight to absorb the syrup. Serve at room temperature.  Enjoy!


Unknown said...

If you are Greek now, maybe you can try Windex for your knees. (This joke only makes sense if you have seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

I thought it was too sweet too, or maybe it was how gooey it was. Either way, I might try a different recipe if I try this again!

Lori @ Girl Meets Oven said...

It's so impressive that you rolled the dough with a rolling pin. I don't know what I would have done without my pasta roller attachment. The floor wasn't really an option. The dog thinks everything on the floor is his. :)

kouky said...

so beautiful and amaizing baklawa ! Congratulations! !thank you for your visit and your nice comment!

hailey said...

your baklava looks great! i found mine quite sweet too, maybe i'll try cutting the syrup recipe in half next time :)
amazing job!

The JR said...

A labor of love. I'd have to cheat and buy the dough.

Lisa said...

Oh, really kicked some serious butt with your baklava. Not only did you whip out 20 perfect sheets of phyllo, but your baklava is food porn! So gorgeous and mouth watering to look at..perfect inner goo! So glad you took part in this challenge. I miss seeing you via TDK!

Michelle said...

Claire, I love following your adventures. Usually you inspire me, and I think, "I might try that sometime." Like the egg sandwich combo. However, I don't know what to think about this. But, if I ever get the urge &/or gumption to try Baklava, I'll know exactly where to find a recipe. :)

Elle said...

Thats just beautiful. I'm wowed by all of that rolling to make the dough but it looks like it was well worth the trouble.

Rivki Locker said...

Wow, what an accomplishment. This is gorgeous and you must be so proud!

Anonymous said...

So glad you enjoyed the challenge! looks great. would have loved to seen you on your knees at the coffee table rolling the dough, too funny!!