Monday, June 27, 2011

Baklava with Homemade Phyllo Dough

I've always been intimidated about making my own Baklava.

It's one of those desserts that I absolutely love ordering at a restaurant, but the idea of working with the super thin, very delicate phyllo dough myself was scary.

And then one day there it was... this month's Daring Bakers' Challenge: Baklava.

Erica of Erica's Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker's June Challenge. Erica challenged us to be DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that dough to make Baklava.

Here was my chance... I had no excuse.

This was a very time consuming dessert, but it actually wasn't as difficult as I thought it was going to be and in the end it was absolutely worth all the effort.

When making this yourself you're going to need to set aside a few hours for prep and make sure to start making it the day before you want to serve it as it has to sit in the syrup overnight.

Phyllo Dough
Makes enough to fill a 9x9 baking dish with 18 layers
Prep time: 20 minutes Rest time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours

2 2/3 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup minus 2 TBS water
4 TBS veggie oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

In a bowl with a stand mixer, combine flour and salt and mix with a paddle attachment until blended.
Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl.
Add mixture to flour/salt and mix on a low speed until you get a soft dough (don't be afraid to add a little more water if the dough is too dry)
Change to dough hook and let knead for about 10 minutes- at this point the dough should be nice and smooth.
Remove dough from mixer and knead by hand for a couple more minutes.
Shape dough into ball and lightly cover with oil before wrapping in saran wrap.
Let sit for about 1 1/2- 2 hours.

While dough is resting, prepare sugar/nut mixture for filling and syrup:

2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground allspice
3/4 cup blanched almonds
3/4 cup pistachios (out of shell)
3/4 cup walnuts
2/3 cup sugar

Combine nuts, sugar and spices in food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped and set aside.

1 1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 water
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 piece of citrus peel (lemon or orange)
pinch of ground cloves.

*Don't start actually cooking your syrup until your baklava is in the oven.
Combine ingredients in a medium pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved.
Boil for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once boiled, remove from heat and remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel, allow to cool as baklava cooks.

Rolling dough
This is where it gets a little more difficult- you want to get the phyllo dough as thin as possible.

Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk about the size of a golf ball. While working with this small piece, make sure to keep the rest of your dough covered so it doesn't dry out.

After flouring your hands, rolling pin and counter roll dough a bit to flatten it out.

Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and roll back and forth quickly to thin it out.

Keep rotating and repeating this process until the dough is as thin as it can get.
If your dough breaks, don't freak out.. the only one you really have to worry about is the very last layer.

Once your dough is as thin as you're going to get it, carefully pick it up with well floured hands and stretch it out a little bit like you would a pizza crust.

Set aside on a well floured surface and repeat this process until all your dough is used up.
Between each sheet make sure to flour top of sheet so they won't stick together.

When you have all of your sheets, it's time to assemble the Baklava.

Melt about 1/4 cup of butter in the microwave.

Trim your phyllo sheets to fit into your pan.

Brush the bottom of the pan with melted butter and place your first phyllo sheet.

Brush top of phyllo sheet with butter and layer with another sheet of phyllo.

Repeat this process (phllyo sheet, butter, phyllo sheet, butter) with 4 layers ending with butter.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup of sugar/nut filling on top of buttered sheet.

Continue layering phyllo and buttering 4 times, ending with butter and sprinkling with filling mixture.
Repeat this process until all the layers of phyllo have been used (about 5 or 6 times).
On the top layer make sure you have a piece of phyllo with no holes.

Once you have applied the top layer, tuck in all the edges and brush once more with butter.
Using a sharp knife, cut your Baklava into about 30 pieces.

Bake for about 30 minutes, remove from oven and cut again making sure to go all the way through.
Return to oven and bake another 30 minutes or until top is golden brown.

When Baklava is cooked, remove from oven and pour syrup evenly over top, making sure to cover all surfaces until syrup can just be seen at top. (I didn't use all of my syrup) 

Allow to completely cool at room temperature.
Once cooled, cover and store at room temperature overnight so syrup can be absorbed.

Now that I've gotten my first experience over with I'm ready to tackle more adventures.. 
bring on the phyllo dough!

Happy Baking!