Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Baklava-Neighbor Friendly



Middle eastern folks know how to get to the heart with beautiful foods and pastries made with phyllo dough!  ( found in most grocery store freezers.) Greeks use this dough for spanakopita (spinach pie).  Arabics, Jewish, Lebanese, and Syrians, make a wide range of stuffed pastries with its insanely leaf-like texture. Its versatility allows even a new cook to make something decadent without too much fuss.  Baklava is the most popular with its aromatic fresh spices, unusual floral oils, nuts, and fruits. Here's how to get the Cookie'z (that's me) shortcut and easy version. Double the recipe if you're going to make a bunch. 
Thank you, Alton Brown of Food Network for coming closest to my Sitty's recipe which follows! 


~~Call your International Grocery store or quality grocers for:
 Rose water and Orange Blossom water  needed in this recipe!

~~ Get a good pastry brush; the best is silicone

~~ Make sure the dough thaws on the counter for at least an hour before use, and keep some waxed paper nearby to cover it since its consistency is as thin as leaves and can dry out during the filling process.

Ingredients you'll need1 lb of phyllo dough 
( Ground whole spices are great, but spices can be granular.) <--- shortcut!
 cinnamon, allspice , rose water, orange blossom water or orange zest, lemon juice, sugar, honey, 2 lbs unsalted butter,  water; Small clean spray bottle. Measurements are below.

Only 7 Basic Steps (same time it took for the Lord to create the the world)
(Joanie and I worked together. It helped!)

Step 1:


In a large glass bowl:.

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  •  3 tablespoons ground allspice 
  •  6 ounces each of the following nuts:
  •  blanched almonds, pistachios, walnuts and/or pecans. Mix all ingredients. 
  • Put next to your working area.
Step 2:
  • SYRUP:
  •  In a large sauce pan:
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and allspice 
  • 1 (2-inch) piece grated fresh orange peel, tbsp orange zest OR 1/3 cup orange blossom water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Boil for up to 10 minutes. Take it off the stove to cool completely. (You can also put it in your fridge to speed it up.)
Step 3:
Butter Mixture for painting the phyllo sheets:
18 ounces or 5 sticks  clarified unsalted butter, (Clarified is a term that simply means butter that is melted to a boil for about 2 minutes until clearer (ghee). The water portion within the butter helps to thin it out and extend the amount!)

Fill up your spray bottle with a cup of rose water.


Step 4

Prepare a buttered 13 x 9 x 2 inch metal sheet or pan,
You'll need about 22 sheets of phyllo. (Try to work quickly, and cover unused phyllo sheets with waxed paper during the buttering applications.)
S-t-a-c-k :
4 sheets of phyllo evenly into the pan; using a pastry or small paint brush, spread butter generously covering the sheets; SPRAY rose water all over.  Now add 4 more sheets, this time, every other sheet buttered.
ADD: 1/3 of nut/ spice mixture. spray more rose water; Then stack 4 more sheets, every other buttered; ADD 1/3 more of nut mixture and spray with more rose water; 
Add  5 more sheets, every other one lightly buttered, remaining nut mixture, then remaining 5 sheets, including top sheet, each buttered. Spray with more rose water. Sprinkle with some cinnamon or/and any extra nut mixture. TRIM OR FOLD and pinch IN the dry edges.

Step 5
Cut diagonally and then across to make 2 inch diamond shapes or squares. 
Bake at 350°  for approximately 50 minutes or until top is browned and puffy.

Step 6: 

Remove from oven and let it cool for at least an hour. 
NOW: CUT through the sections again with a soft bladed knife.  
SPOON a generous amount of syrup over the sections, allowing each application to absorb and create a "shiny" top layer. Repeat until "sticky".

Let it it sit w/out a cover for at least a few hours. Test the "bottom" of a piece, making sure it's not too wet, but still sticky. ( don't worry even if it is. It'll cool and solidify) Leave it uncovered for about 6 hours.

                                                                Almost done!!

Step 7:
Using a spatula, pull out two pieces at a time,  placing them in a cupcake liner then on a foil - lined or parchment covered counter and cover with more foil (optional). Leave them alone for another hour. YES. I said so.
Place all in a large container or cookie tin.  Keep for up to 3 weeks.

Watch folks' jaw drop when they taste! Congratulations! You did it!!!
Please let us know how it worked out. Leave a comment about results, with any questions or concerns!

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