Monday, June 27, 2011

Daring Bakers: Baklava & Phyllo Pastry

For this month the Daring Bakers challenged us to make Baklava with homemade Phyllo Pastry. I have never tasted baklava before, because I always thought it is overly sweet. The real challenge was making the phyllo pastry dough, and rolling it out paper thin. I am always up to making all kinds of challenging doughs, like puff pastry, fresh yeast dough or crossaint dough, but this one was really difficult.

I managed to roll out the dough really thin, but it took a lot of arm strength. Then I made the mistake of waiting a little to long to continue making the baklava and the dough got stuck together. I thought I had floured it enough, but I had to re-roll at least a third of it. I never got it as thin as before. It was great to learn how to make phyllo, but this is one dough I will prefer buying at the store in the future.

For the filling I made a mix out of almonds, pistachios and milk chocolate, flavored with lemon and cinnamon. Since I wanted it to taste fresh but not too sweet, I made a mint sirup with some lemon zest, and only a little bit of honey. It tasted quite good, and the sweetness was okay. I have to say this will never be one of my preferred desserts, but it was a good experience.

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.

Baklava and Phyllo Dough

Phyllo Dough:

(adapted from "Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caf├ęs of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers)

185 g all purpose flour
a pinch of salt
105 ml water, plus more if needed
2 tbsp. (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 tsp. cider vinegar (could substitute white wine vinegar, but could affect the taste)

Making the dough:

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt. Mix with paddle attachment.

Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Add water and oil mixture with mixer on low speed, mix 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 through 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 the dough:

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. Wrap the dough around your rolling pin/dowel. Roll back and forth quickly with the dough remaining on the dowel. 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.

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

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.


makes about 18 servings in a 20x20-cm (8x8-inch) pan

For the Filling:

100 g blanched almonds
50 g raw or roasted pistachios
75 g milk chocolate
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

phyllo dough (see recipe above)
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225g/8 oz) melted butter

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

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 aside

Trim your phyllo sheets to fit in your pan

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.

Sprinkle 1/2 of the nut mixture on top

Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 5 times

Sprinkle the other 1/2 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. 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 20 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 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

For the syrup:

175 ml water
180 g sugar
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, cut in small pieces
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. honey

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 the mint leaves and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks.

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 and Guten Appetit!
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