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.
It was a thrill this month with Daring Bakers to learn the art of homemade phyllo! I have often made Baklava with store bought phyllo but have never even considered making my own. This was a wonderful nudge into the direction of the old arts of baking.
I have given you the original recipe we were supplied and also spoken of my variation. It was a delicious Baklava and lots of fun to make my own phyllo.
For my syrup I simply measured equal quantities of sugar and water flavoured with a cinnamon stick and cardamom then after simmering for 20 minutes I added a two spoonfuls of orange flower water off the heat.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 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
I doubled the quantity of pastry to achieve 22 sheets 10 x 10 inches. Really the pastry was easy to roll thinly but very time consuming - for me anyway! I think it took at least an one and a half hours to roll 22 sheets. Now I know why no one needed gyms years ago! My problem was that I mustn't have floured the sheets well enough so the last two sheets stuck and had to be rerolled - not a good idea. The dough was then very difficult to roll and that was my top two sheets on my Baklava. So definitely flour your sheets well.
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
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)
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
6. 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.
7. 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 try out.
Ingredients for the Filling:
I used the same nuts as the challenge recipe only in different quanities depending on how much I had. The walnuts were predominant. I used cinnamon, a pinch of cloves and a spoonful of orange flower water in the filling. I should have used more cloves. I clarified the butter as Audax recommended and added a few spoonfuls of olive oil. The syrup was just sugar and water flavoured with a cinnamon stick and cardamom then after simmering for 20 minutes I added a two spoonfuls of orange flower water off the heat.
I cooked the baklava according to the tips suggested by fellow Daring Baker Audax which is 30 minutes @ 200C, 30 minutes @ 150C, 30 minutes @ 100C then back up to 200C for colour( I didn't need the last one).
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!
Next morning all syrup is absorbed
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
I loved this opportunity to make the phyllo and it certainly adds crunch to the finished baklava. I'm not sure I would make homemade phyllo regularly ( although I would sure be fit and strong ) but I love knowing I can do it. I think next time I would stretch out one large rectangular sheet and roll up with the filling. Then cut into rounds.
Thank you Erica as you have taught me a new technique. These old traditional techniques will be lost if we don't continue to practice them even if we can buy good phyllo in the stores. Thank you, I have thoroughly enjoyed the process! (and the result!)