Sunday, February 25, 2018

Baklava



Baklava, popular middle-eastern sweet is a rich pastry dessert made of fillo sheets filled with a nut mixture and sweetened with a aromatic syrup. Baklava is supposed to have originated in Turkey but is popularly made in Greece, Bulgaria etc. Each country adds its own touch or twist to this amazing sweet. Today, I present you my version of this pastry dessert "Baklava" with  walnut-pistachio filling.







As I mentioned before, there are many different ways of preparing Baklava. I will not only give you the recipe but also share with you all the possible variations that you can do. Many fear that Baklava is very difficult to prepare. I also thought the same. But when I saw a dear friend make it, I was amazed and decided to try it out too. After about 2 attempts, I got the perfect outcome that I was hoping to achieve. The whole process of baking and preparing the dessert is amazing. House fills with such beautiful aroma.



Preparing baklava is a little tedious process but I have tried to provide a short cut. For instance, traditionally each layer of fillo sheet is brushed with melted butter. I have changed the process a bit. Instead of brushing each layer of fillo with melted butter, I stack up layers of 8 , drizzle some melted butter, followed by big handful of nut mixture , then again with place a stack of 6, drizzle with melted butter , then nut mixture. Repeat this process with stack of 6 fillo sheets (totally 4 separate stacks of 6 sheets with butter and filling between them.) The final stack should be 8 fillo sheets. That's how we utilize the whole 40 sheets (8+6+6+6+6+8). I have explained it in detail in the PROCEDURE section.




     
There are a few tips or pointers to prepare the best ever baklavas , keep them in mind and you will have a perfect outcome every time:)
  • While handling the fillo sheets, be very careful. They are very delicate and can break easily. Cover them with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying.
  • The nuts should be powdered coarsely. You can use the dry grinder or the food processor to do the same.
  • Bake the filled fillo sheets in low temperature ( 300 F or 150 C ) for about 2 hours . Baking in low heat  will ensure crispy baklava.
  • The syrup that we will use should be prepared and cooled completely to room temperature. This is very important. This step will ensure that baklavas will remain crispy for days and not turn soggy. So please please do not skip this step :)
  • Once prepared, baklavas need to sit for atleast 4 hours or preferably overnight to soak up all the juices. Cover the baklavas loosely with an aluminium foil.
Let's head to the recipe now

INGREDIENTS:
Note: All measurements are based on the US measuring cup and spoon sizes where 1 cup = 235 ml
  • 1 lb  (16 oz) package of fillo (phyllo) sheets (I used Athens brand. Each box has 2 packages within the box .Totally, it has of 40 sheets).
  • Unsalted butter : 2 1/2 sticks ( 1 1/4 cups)
For the filling, you will need:
  • 1 lb (or 16 oz) of nuts (I used a combination of walnuts and pistachios)
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon powder
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
For the syrup, you will need:
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1 big piece of cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
PROCEDURE:

To prepare the filling:
  • Using a dry grinder or food processor, make a coarse powder of the nuts. Make sure to process the nuts in small batches. (Note: If you keep the dry grinder turned on for a long time, the nuts would tend to release oil . So process small batches of nuts or use the pulse option of the food processor).Mix the coarsely powdered nuts with cinnamon powder and sugar.

To prepare the syrup:
  • Heat the water, sugar, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring the mixture to boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 7 minutes. The syrup should slightly thicken (not too much though).Lastly add the lemon juice and let the syrup to cool down to room temperature.




Final preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 300 F (or 160 C). Grease a 9 inch X 13 inch pan .
  • Cut the fillo sheets to the size of the pan. Cover the fillo sheets with a damp towel to prevent it from drying.




  • Place 8 sheets of fillo on the greased pan . Drizzle some melted butter, followed by the powdered nut mix. Place 6 sheets of fillo , drizzle some butter followed by nut mix. Keep layering.After the last layer, pour in all the butter and tuck in the edges with a fork. See below to understand the layering pattern:
8 fillo sheets on the greased pan
       ↓
drizzle melted butter
        ↓
nut mix
         ↓
6 fillo sheets
         ↓
drizzle melted butter
         ↓
nut mixture
        ↓
6 fillo sheets
         ↓
drizzle melted butter
         ↓
nut mixture
        ↓
6 fillo sheets
         ↓
drizzle melted butter
         ↓
nut mixture
        ↓
6 fillo sheets
         ↓
drizzle melted butter
         ↓
nut mixture
         ↓
8 fillo sheets
         ↓
pour all the remaining butter on top











  • Let this assembled tray sit in the refrigerator for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, the butter would have hardened. Now gently cut diagonal pieces (cut all the way through).

  • Bake in the preheated oven for 2 hours. (It is very important to bake at low temperature for the mentioned time to ensure proper crispiness of the layers ).Remove from the oven.  Pour the cooled syrup. The sizzling sound is music to the ears:)


  • Let baklava rest for at least 4 hours or overnight to absorb all the syrup. 

  • Serve baklava piece with some powdered pistachios on the top for garnish.



There can be many variations to this delicious dessert. I have just shown you one way. 
Find below the other possible variations:
  • You can make the filling with just walnut powder or pistachio or almond or combine two or all the three of them. I would suggest retaining walnut as one of them if combining two nuts as it renders a very beautiful flavor.
  • Along with cinnamon powder, you can also add in small quantity of clove powder. For a totally different flavor, use cardamom powder instead of cinnamon and clove. If using cardamom powder in the filling, remember to use cardamom in the syrup along with some saffron and omit cinnamon and cloves.
  • You can also use lemon zest in the syrup instead of lemon juice. If using the zest then let it boil with the rest of the ingredients.
  • I have tried to reduce the preparation time by stacking the sheets and drizzling butter on them. But if you wish , you can make it the traditional way and apply butter between the sheets  but add the filling only in the above mentioned pattern (that is, after 8,6,6,6 sheets and finally the 8 to finish the stack).
  • You can also use a combination of sugar and honey instead of just using sugar. 
  • You can use ghee/clarified butter instead of melted butter.
I have tried to add as much information as possible, but if you need any more information or clarification, email me or drop a line in the comment box. I will try to reply at the earliest.





3 comments:

  1. I love Baklava, though, honestly, the sweetness can literally kill me. I guess a tiny bit will not hurt? Beautiful made and attractively presented. Super nice.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love....Love....Love... baklava...Looks delicious and wonderfully made!!

    ReplyDelete