Baklava with Homemade Phyllo Pastry – Daring Bakers Challenge June 2011

June 27th, 2011

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.

I remember first discovering baklava and its gorgeous sweetness. There used to be a very nice place that sold it near restaurants we used to visit often. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), it isn’t as readily available where I live and work at the moment. Therefore, like most of the food I eat, I only get a chance to eat it – if I get the chance to make it (or someone else just happens to buy or bring some along).

I thought this would be an easy challenge for one of the days on the weekend in Winter. Little did I know that the weather would be beautiful – sunny and warm and much better than many of Spring and Autumn days we had. After making the lovely dough and leaving it in the fridge, out into the garden we went and spent most of the day.

This meant I had the leave the dough until a week-night to finish off. So I placed it in the freezer, and forgot to take it out the morning of when I would make my baklava. After a few problems with the dough not thawing quickly, it actually rolled out very nicely and we were able to make 10 sheets from the one quantity of dough.

The rest of the recipe was made whilst the dough was thawing and those elements were completed very easily, especially with the help of the food processor.

Once I poured the cooled syrup onto the baklava though, it was literally swimming in syrup. By the next morning… it was still swimming is syrup so I transferred the baklava to take-away containers to take in to work, and allow more of the syrup to drain.

Flavour-wise this baklava was gorgeous. Absolutely lovely and I didn’t find it too sweet either, despite it swimming in syrup. The pastry turned out quite nicely and I am glad I made it (although can’t see myself making it many times in the future).

Thanks so much to our host for this months challenge, and making us step outside our comfort zone.

my notes: I made the single recipe and it made 10 sheets for my 20.5cm x 20.5cm x 4.5cm dish, the syrup was probably twice what was needed.

Phyllo Dough

*Note 1: To have enough to fill my 9” x 9” baking dish with 18 layers of phyllo I doubled this recipe.
*Note 2: Single recipe will fill a 8” x 5” baking dish.
*Note 3: Dough can be made a head of time and froze. Just remove from freezer and allow to thaw
and continue making your baklava

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)

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt.

2. Mix with paddle attachment.

3. Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl.

4. Add water & oil mixture with mixer on low speed, mix until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water (I had to add a tablespoon more)

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.

6. 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.

7. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil

8. 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 your Phyllo

** Remove all rings and jewelry so it does not snag the dough**

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 then 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 dry out.

Baklava Recipe

Adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network
30 servings

For the syrup:
· 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) honey
· 1 1/4 cups (300ml) water
· 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) sugar
· 1 cinnamon stick
· 1 (2-inch/50 mm) piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best)
· a few cloves or a pinch or ground clove

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

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

Ingredients for the Filling:
1 (5-inch/125 mm piece) cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (8 gm) ground cinnamon
15 to 20 whole allspice berries ( I just used a few pinches)
3/4 cup (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) blanched almonds
3/4 cup (180 ml) (155 gm/5½ oz) raw or roasted walnuts
3/4 cup (180 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) raw or roasted pistachios
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm/ 5 1/3 oz) sugar
phyllo dough (see recipe above)
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225g/8 oz) melted butter ** I did not need this much, less then half**

1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.

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 aside

3. Trim your phyllo sheets to fit in your pan

4. Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet

5. Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade phyllo is thicker so it’s not needed)

6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

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) (Mine took about 40min in total)

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 (my syrup did not absorb much at all)

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

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. 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.

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21 Comments

  1. I love your baklava..your pictures are just stunning especially the one with you holding one piece up and it is dripping…yummy

  2. muppy says:

    How funny as I was just wondering the other day how hard it is to make your own phyllo. Your baklava looks delicious.

  3. Cakelaw says:

    Your baklava looks gorgeous. I found mine was swimming in syrup too.

  4. Jeanne says:

    Lovely job on this challenge! Even with all the extra syrup, your baklava looks like it has the perfect saturation.

  5. Paula says:

    I had the privilege of trying your yummy baklava and it was almost as good as one my mother-in-law’s (mil) creations! I would have said “as good” but being a Greek mil, I dont want to risk copping a rolling pin over the head, and she doesnt even make her own filo!

  6. Beta Gal says:

    This is so impressive and it looks amazing! I never knew how much work went into making what looked like a simple dessert.

  7. betty says:

    I love baklava – ive tried home made- and will never buy from the shop again!

  8. Rosa says:

    You did a great job! Your baklava is splendid. So perfect and tempting. Kudos.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  9. Wow, I was just thinking about baklava today! This looks delicious – I have never thought of making my own phyllo pastry.

    Well done! I think I’ll have to give it a shot 🙂

  10. Oh wow I am drooling looking at the syrup haha! I LOVE baklava – well done on the pasrty – it looks perfect!

  11. Regina says:

    Great recipe! Simple to follow and the baklava turned out delicious. Thank you!

  12. bahar006 says:

    Baklava is a Turkısh recipe and all the families make Baklava in the morning of the Ramadan Feast. We also make this to our special.guests. İn Turkey Gaziantep city is famous with its pistachio Baklava. Your Baklava seems delicios, loves from Ankara:)

  13. Tro says:

    FYI –
    I often make Baklava (with store bought dough), but my recipie calls for a 12 oz jar of honey instead of making a syrup mixture. It gets drizzled on the
    same way after baking. However, it tastes just a good and you don’t have the runny syrup. Might want to try it! I’m going to try the phyllo dough!

  14. Kelly says:

    this looks SO SO SO good.

  15. Jamie Asper says:

    Your Baklava looks really good. I once worked with a Russian man whose wife made it for us all at work. The recipe was 2000 years old. It was amazing!! I have had Baklava many times at Resturants and nothing has ever tasted quite like that recipe. I always seearch for that same flavour though. Found your post on Pinterest. Have a great day! ~ Jamie

  16. Lorraine says:

    This was delicious!! although I did use store bought dough. MMMMMMMMM!!!

  17. I saw this on Pinterest, and when I noticed that the title said Homemade Phyllo dough I came straight over to see for myself! This looks so syrupy and delicious, and I’m especially excited to make the phyllo dough!

  18. Bouchra says:

    WOW! this recipe looks amazing! I am a huge fan of Baklava and always wanted to make my own rather than buying it from the store . I am looking forward making your recipe and I can’t wait to try it. Yummy!

    Cheers.

    Bouchra

  19. Melli says:

    Your baklava looks lovely! Kudos for making your own phyllo. Having grown up making baklava at least twice every year since I could stand at a counter, I will give you two bits of advice: #1: Do not cut all the way through to the bottom of the pan. Leave the bottom layer intact so the phyllo does not get soggy from the syrup. #2: The syrup soaks into the pastry best if one is hot and one is cold. It doesn’t matter which is hot but one must be.

  20. Pauli says:

    My yiayia made her own filo dough from scratch. The resulting dough ball was roughly the size of her fist. when she rolled it out, it covered the (large) kitchen table. The test to see if it was thin enough was if you could read a newspaper through it. 🙂 I still miss her. She layered it with 6-8 leaves of filo as the base, then each sheet was lightly spread with the melted butter and about 1/4 c of filling, repeating till the top of the pan, where again, there were 6-8 sheets of filo layered with a thin spread of melted butter. While cutting most of the way through the filo (hint #1 in Melli’s comment), she always used a whole clove pushed through the top center of the diamond shape, for structure and for flavor, and didn’t use any ground cloves. It is a Turkish recipe, but since Turkey occupied Greece for hundreds of years, the Greeks made it Greek. 🙂

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