Guess what? I was the host of the Daring Bakers June Challenge!!!! In mid April I received and e-mail from the Daring Kitchen asking me if I would step into the June position, as someone was no longer able to do so. What? Me? Host a Challenge?? Heck YES! I was thrilled, honored and terrified!
I have been fascinated with Baklava for a very long time and knew if I ever got the chance to host a challenge it was definitely going to be the recipe. I had my first baklava at a local Greek restaurant called The Original Greek; they have, in my opinion, the best baklava.
Baklava, a sweet rich pastry made with layers of phyllo dough and nuts sweetened with simple syrup. Baklava is widely knows as a Greek dessert, but it’s origin has really never been pinpointed as many Middle Eastern countries also name it as their own.
If you’re thinking baklava is easy, just layering phyllo, you’re right, but not so fast. We made our own homemade phyllo; we are after all the Daring Bakers. Phyllo, which means, “leaf” in Greek, is tissue paper-thin like sheets of dough. Homemade phyllo is a lot of work to roll out but is worth it, its delicious! Baklava is quite simple to make but is a little time-consuming.
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.
Phyllo Dough Recipe - Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
Baklava: Adapted from Alton Brown, Food Network
1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt
This is what you are looking for
5. 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.
8. Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead for 2 more minutes. Pick up the dough and through it down hard on the counter a few times during the kneading process.
9. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil
Rolling your Phyllo
Use whatever means you have to get the dough as thin as you can. I have included a fantastic video at the end of the post on how to roll out your phyllo dough, using a wooden dowel, which worked perfectly for me. You may also use a pasta machine if you have one, or a normal rolling pin whatever works for you.
1. Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger than a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.
2. 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.
3. Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out.
4. Wrap the dough around your rolling pin/dowel
5. Roll back and forth quickly with the dough remaining on the dowel (see attached video for a visual, its much easier then it sounds)
6. Remove; notice how much bigger it is!
7. 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.
8. 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. 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
9. 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.
Adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network
For the syrup:
- 1 1/4 cups (315 ml) honey
- 1 1/4 cups (315 ml) water
- 1 1/4 cups (315 ml) sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 (2-inch) piece fresh orange peel
When you put your baklava in the oven start making your syrup. When you combine the 2, one of them needs to be hot, I find it better when the baklava is hot and the syrup has cooled
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved
2. Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally.
3. Once boiled for 10 minutes remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks
For the filling:
- 1 (5-inch piece) cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces or 2 teaspoons ground
- 15 to 20 whole allspice berries
- 6 ounces (170g) blanched almonds
- 6 ounces (170g) raw or roasted walnuts
- 6 ounces (170g) raw or roasted pistachio
- 2/3 cup sugar
- phyllo dough (see recipe above)
- 8 ounces (225g) melted butter ** you may need more or less
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. 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. Set a side
4. Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet
5. Brush phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 8 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade phyllo is thicker so it’s not needed)
7. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times
8. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top
9. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times
10. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top
11. 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.
12. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance.
13. 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 9×9 pan cuts nicely into 30 pieces. Then brush with a generous layer of butter making sure to cover every area and edge
14. 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)
15. 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!
Next morning all syrup is absorbed
16. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled cover and store at room temperature. Allow the baklava to sit overnight to absorb the syrup.
17. Serve at room temperature
I also got a little creative and made rolled baklava as well
1. Take one rolled sheet of phyllo
2. Brush with butter and lightly cover with nuts
3. Take a think wooden dowel and begin rolling up the phyllo
4. As you roll bush the underside with butter
5. Continue rolling until it is entirely on the dowel
6. Repeat without nuts
7. it will look like this
8. Push all phyllo to one end
9. Carefully slide off dowel
10. Place in a butter baking dish and brush with a generous amount of butter
11. Bake until golden brown
12. Cut into desired length and cover with syrup
Unfortunately we at this one too fast and I didn’t get any pictures plated
The baklava was delicious! The homemade phyllo dough was wonderful but for convenience I would probably try the store bought dough next time.
I had an awesome time hosting the Challenge this month and I look forward checking out everyone’s blogs to see how they made out
Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: There are a few ways to store your Baklava. It is recommended that you store your baklava at room temperature in an airtight container. Stored at room temperature your baklava will last for up to 2 weeks. You will notice as the days pass it will get a little juicier and chewier, but still great. You may choose to store it in the fridge; this will make it a little harder and chewy, but does increase the shelf life. You can also freeze your baklava and then just set it out at room temperature to thaw.
Additional Information: I have included some videos and links to help you through the process.
How to roll the phyllo dough -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvNzAi9w6TU&feature=related
Excellent 3 part video showing the whole process - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLV7W-KUME8&feature=related
Making Hallow Baklava Rolls- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FvM8cWzjKI
Making Baklava Rolls – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H51egHWv0sQ