Sunday, October 12, 2008

You can make homemade baklava

This is one of THOSE foods.  The one that looks incredibly complicated.  The really impressive one that makes everyone say, "No way!  You made this?!" or, "Ooooooh, I could never make that!"  But, the truth is, yes, you can.

Baklava is incredibly time consuming, but it's actually pretty easy.  There are two main components.  There is the pastry/nut component and the syrup component.  The pastry/nut side of things is phyllo dough (purchased and thawed, couldn't be easier), chopped nuts,  cinnamon, and, melted butter.

Initially, you cut a package of thawed phyllo dough in half.  It fits very neatly in a 13 x 9 pan.  Mix the nuts and the cinnamon.  Get a brush for the butter.  That's it.

Here it is.  Pan.  Nuts and cinnamon.  Melted butter. Phyllo dough.

You brush a layer of butter in the pan.  Then layer in a sheet of dough.  Brush more butter to cover.  Then layer in another sheet of dough.  Yup, more butter to cover.

At this point, you sprinkle on 2 T. of the nut mixture.

Then the layering starts again.  Dough.  Butter. Nut mixture.  You do this until all of the nuts are gone.  Then make six or so layers of dough and butter.  Don't be stingy with the butter.  It's one of the best components.  Occasionally, I run out.  Just melt a little more and continue.

 Just a note about the phyllo.  I know this is the sort of thing that can be very scary.  It's not.  In this recipe, especially, it's very forgiving.  If it tears, so what.  It's just going to be covered with  more nuts and butter!  When you are between layers, I cover it with some plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.  Ok, actually, now that I've made this a bunch of times, I don't tend to cover it because I work pretty quickly.  If you are nervous, however, cover.

The next step was a little surprising the first time I made this.  You actually cut the baklava BEFORE you bake it.  I know!  Isn't that interesting!

This is what it looks like before it is baked.  Another little hint:  these pieces are kind of big.  I usually cut them smaller.

This is what it looks like after it is baked.  MMMmmm.  Toasty and delicious.  But not done yet!

While it is baking, you have another step.  The sweetness comes from a honey/sugar syrup.  The beauty of the syrup is that you can make it to your likeness.  I'm not a huge fan of honey, so I use more sugar than honey.  Once the pan is out of the oven, you evenly pour the syrup over the hot baklava.  Tricky!  You'll hear an amazing sizzle as the syrup lovingly coats all the flaky, delicious layers.  

Here is what it looks like when it's done.  More mmmmmmm.  

And here is a close up of the flaky, delicious layers.  Even more mmmmm.

It can be done.  And it can be done well.  Try it!  You'll like it!

Julie's Baklava

1 package frozen phyllo dough, thawed according to directions and cut in half to fit a 13 x 9
1 pound toasted, chopped nuts (I use pistachio and almond)
1 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted (may need more)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix nuts and cinnamon.  Brush bottom of 13 x 9 pan with butter.  Layer phyllo, nuts, and butter until nut mixture is gone.  Cover with six layers of phyllo and butter.  Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown.  While the pastry is baking, make the sugar/honey syrup.

1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. water
1/2 c. honey
1 t. vanilla
1 t. lemon or orange zest

Combine the sugar and water.  Bring to a boil.  Add the rest of ingredients and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.  Spoon the hot syrup over the hot pastry.

Store UNCOVERED!  Otherwise, it gets soggy.


Anne said...

So funny, I'd just been thinking about making this! Thanks for the tips- it looks wonderful!

Megan said...

You know, I am so impressed, and you made it look/sound so easy - I am going to add this to my learn to do list. Of course, I am the only nut-lover in the house, so I may run into trouble with the storage part.

Lori said...

THis sounds so yummy! I have alwyas wanted to make this. I usually buy phyllo, it sits int he freezer and by the time I take it out it is dried out. I think I will but this and then make it immediately. I love the pistachio ones. I like them noth of course but something about the pistachio ones!

You have so many layers there in that last shot. It looks so good.