Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Daring Bakers challenged us to make homemade baklava!

Wow this month we had an awesome challenge!!! Baklava is one of my guilty pleasures lol it's honey sweet goodness is so strong it takes me about an hour to eat one piece lol.
I remember as a kid going over to my friends house (she was from Morocco Africa) and her mother would make similar treats to baklava using a lot of honey/syrup and cardamon and nuts. She would be careful to serve me first with her best dishes, fresh mint tea in those beautiful little tea glasses. She would be adamant that I eat all I could. I learned NEVER EVER to say "no,thank you", I remember saying no thank you politely and feeling my friend poke my side and say that I must eat it or her mother would be hurt (her mother only spoke Arabic)i remember her talking up a storm and waving her hands at me lol.I found that honey and sugar in their culture was only really used in treats to serve their guests or for feasting (Ramadan in their case) because it was a symbol of wealth. I remember having to eat two full pieces of this honey goodness and praying I wouldn't get a toothache let alone a headache by the days end of the day ;-). (Please know that these memories are all based on my friends home and their ways of life, I am in no way knowledgeable in their culture in any way but love learning about it ;-)...)
I started to really love baklava after I went to a partly Greek wedding ;-) My friend was from Greek background and her husband was Belgian. The wedding was absolutely lovely and she had ordered baklava and other Greek treats to be served.
I found that you could make your own baklava quite easily by "cheating" and buying the frozen dough in the store. it's really not that hard with the pre-bought dough ;-)make the sauce and nuts and follow the instructions really...
that was not the case with this challenge lol I was super excited to try this out and I have made quite a few doughs before and was reasonable confident that this would be a success lol conclusion is that if I had some great Greek relatives I might feel "guilted" into making it but I don't so store bought it will be just fine for my lazy self from now on ;-) But I am very very glad I tried and did learn how to attempt to make it lol

Here was our Daring Baker challenge this month:
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.

Here was my journey to delicious baklava: 
Directions ready to use...
Mixed the oil vinegar and water

Mixer doing his job
Pouring in the last of the vinegar mix
Nice smooth dough
Not so smooth hands ;-)
Beautiful dough ball
Getting ready to put oil on the dough
After applying the oil, covering it up with plastic wrap
Only I would find beauty in dirty dishes ;-)
My first batch of phyllo dough not the prettiest or thinnest lol
The finished was sooo good!

Phyllo Dough:


  • 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)
  9. Remove all rings and jewelry so it does not snag the dough 
  10. Use whatever means you have to get the dough as thin as you can.  You may also use a pasta machine if you have one, or a normal rolling pin whatever works for you.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out.
  14. Wrap the dough around your rolling pin/dowel
  15. Roll back and forth quickly with the dough remaining on the dowel
  16. Remove; notice how much bigger it is!
  17. 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.
  18. 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
  19. 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. 
Baklava Sauce

  • 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, I used orange)
  •   A few cloves or a pinch or ground clove
  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
Baklava Nut 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
  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 9x9 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)
  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!
  16. Next morning all syrup is absorbed
  17. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled cover and store at room temperature. Allow the baklava to sit overnight to absorb the syrup
  18. 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.
    Adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network


    1. Those are beautiful step-by-step pictures and your baklava looks oh so delicious! Great job!

    2. so glad you gave the homemade dough a chance, it is a lot of work but nice once and a while. I hear you, I to will usually use the frozen kind. Great step my step photos!