Monday, June 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' June Challenge - Baklava + Homemade Phyllo!

Oh, my goodness. This month's challenge really got my mouth watering! I love Baklava. Okay, I rarely get a chance to eat it, so learning how to make it seemed like a dream come true.

During college there was a little restaurant near the bookstore that would make Baklava once a week. If I wasn't quick enough it would all be sold out. Gooey, nutty goodness... thy name was Baklava. I assumed it was a tricky thing to make, and Phyllo? I had never heard of people making their own Phyllo dough before.

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. - Seriously, thank you Erica!

There are 3 components to this recipe, the Phyllo Dough, the nut filling and the syrup. The Phyllo can be made ahead and frozen if necessary.

Phyllo Dough
You will Need:
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) cider vinegar, (could substitute white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, but could affect the taste)

I was surprised how easy this was to make... Combine the dry ingredients in a stand mixer. Measure your water, oil and vinegar in a separate cup. Slowly add the wet to the dry till the dough comes together. With the dough hook, mix for about 10 minutes till you have a smooth dough.

Rub a little oil on the dough ball and then wrap tightly with wrap. Let it rest for at least an hour or two.

In the meantime, you can work on the filling.

You Will Need:  
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
15 to 20 whole allspice berries
3/4 c. toasted almonds
1/2 c. walnuts
1/2 c. toasted hazelnuts
3/4 c.  roasted pistachios
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c.  melted butter

Throw all the ingredients except for the butter in the food processor and pulse up till you have smaller chunks and mixed up.

Now set aside.

When the Phyllo dough has rested, it is time to roll it out. I ended up using my pasta press to roll it out. I started with a golf ball sized piece of dough, then added a little flour and rolled it into a square. Then fed it through my pasta press, getting progressively thinner.

After the final setting, I still gently stretched the dough to fit my pan size. I chose a 8 x 5.5 inch pan and the pasta press made perfect sized sheets for me.

I stretched it thin enough for light to pass through easily. Then I cut it to size, floured it and set it aside.

When I was ready to assemble, I melted one stick of butter. Start out by brushing the dish generously.Then lay down your first Phyllo sheet. After laying down a sheet, brush with butter and repeat 5 times. Then add 1/3 of the nut mixture.

Keep repeating this pattern and finish with a the Phyllo layer. Generously brush with butter and cut the Baklava. You will cut it again later, but this will make cutting easier.

Bake the Baklava at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

While your Baklava is baking, make the syrup.

You Will Need:
1 1/4 c. honey - I used orange blossom honey for the citrus flavor
1 1/4 c. water
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange peel
a few cloves or a pinch or ground clove

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and warm it to dissolve all the sugar. Then bring it up to a boil for 10 minutes. After it has boiled, strain it and set aside till the Baklava has finished baking.

Pop it out and cut again. I brushed the tops of mine with a little more butter. It will bake for another 20-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Now take the syrup and pour it over the top...

Oh, my goodness! It smells so good.

Now comes the hardest part. You need to let it sit and soak up that syrup overnight. I know, waiting is hard to do. ...but, it will be so worth it.

And the Daring Bakers have done it again! A delicious challenge where I was able to make my own Phyllo... and enjoy one of my favorites anytime I want.

I also wanted to share some great links we were given. I know Baklava seems intimidating because of the nuts and gluten, but there are great alternatives out there...

Nut Free Baklava –

Gluten Free Baklava

Happy Baking! Join me next month to see where the July Daring Baker's Challenge will  take me.
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