Sunday, April 11, 2010

Baklava

So I have a confession to make. Phyllo dough intimidates me. Thin, fussy, drying out quickly and tearing easily, it always just seems like a lot of work to deal with. For ages I've been intending to make baklava (one of my all time favourite desserts) instead of buying it like I usually do, but I've stalled and stalled simply to avoid dealing with the phyllo. On Wednesday, I ended up promising to bring a tray of baklava to school with me. I could've chosen any other dessert, but I figured if someone was expecting me to bring it, I'd have no choice but to stop stalling. I created this recipe by combining my most beloved traits of all the different kinds of baklava I enjoy eating, so this is a fairly "generic" baklava that doesn't exemplify the traits of any one specific region's way of making it. So, here we are. Hope you enjoy!

1 pound phyllo (filo) dough
1 cup butter, melted and made into clarified butter*
1 cup pistachios, plus another 1/4 cup for garnish
2 cups walnuts
1 scant teaspoon cinnamon (okay, I just shook in however much I wanted, but it was around that much)
1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar (I used somewhere in between)
1 tablespoon rose water
1 batch of syrup (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine nuts, cinnamon, sugar and rose water in a food processor and pulse until you have a nice, crumbly mixture. Brush the bottom of a 13x9 pan generously with the clarified butter, then layer in 16 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each sheet generously with the butter as you layer along, including the top sheet. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture evenly on top of the phyllo, then repeat the process with the next 8 sheets (don't forget to keep brushing on the butter!). After those 8 sheets have been added, evenly sprinkle the remainder of the nut mixture. Then layer the remaining sheets, brushing with butter in between. Some people like to pour the remaining clarified butter over the top, and some people do not. I like to brush on a little extra. You should do it the way you like to. Cut the baklava (if you wait until it's cooked, it won't go as well), either in diamonds or squares. Start making the syrup, then put the pan of pastry in the oven. Bake for about an hour, or until it's nice and golden brown (but not too much so). As soon as it comes out of the oven, pour the syrup evenly over the baklava and let it hang out overnight at room temperature to soak in. Makes 1 tray.

Syrup:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 small cinnamon stick (1-2" long)
10 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon orange blossom water

Combine all of the above, and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously until the sugar melts. Let it continue to cook without stirring for 10-15 minutes, or until it becomes thick and syrupy. Remove from heat, remove cinnamon and cardamom, then let stand until room temperature.

* To make clarified butter, put the butter in a saucepan and melt over very low heat. Some people boil the butter until all the water has boiled off and the solids have sunk to the bottom, but I prefer to cook it over low heat for an hour or two, because I love the nutty flavour it acquires when clarified slowly. You should use whichever method you prefer. Remove any foam from the butter that may have formed, then pour off the oil, leaving the solids in the pan. This is also lactose-free and just pure fat once it's done, so those with lactose intolerance can also eat it. Store any leftovers in the fridge and use as you would normally use butter in your cooking.

2 comments:

  1. This is fabulous! Please tell me in my shout box, where I can get rose water. I want ten pieces of your dessert!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Skdd,

    Thanks! It's in your shoutbox! The baklava went so quickly I barely got any!

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