~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Friday, December 11, 2009

Baklava...a great Christmas treat.

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Baklava...a great Christmas treat. I remember making this recipe for baklava when I was still living at home and going to college. I looked forward to the Christmas break...It was always so relaxing to bake and forget about school, exams and lab work. After finishing a semester of hard work, it was always such a joy to bake and try a recipe for the holidays. My Mom would be making the traditional cozonac, while my sisters and I would try our hand on other desserts, such as the Romanian holiday cookie called 'cornulete', filled with Turkish delights. After the cornulete were baked, they were rolled in powdered sugar...

But one year, I made baklava. It was a recipe that I had found in a cooking magazine and I decided to make it for our family that year. We all loved nuts and I knew it would be a huge hit... It turned out to be quite delicious! So I filed the recipe among my many favorite recipes and have kept it ever since. There are other variations to a classical baklava...some use breadcrumbs as a filler to the nuts, some use sugar in the nut filling, while others use different flavorings. Somehow, I like my version... the baklava isn't so dry as others. In the past, I have played around with the flavorings and adjusted the syrup to include more honey and less sugar. I am, however, posting the original recipe...so feel free to tweak the recipe to your preference.

As of recent, I have also tried making different shapes. This post will include how to make a baklava diamond and a baklava roll. The original recipe only makes the diamond shape and uses the whole package of phyllo dough. Since I wanted to show you how to make the roll, I used half of the phyllo sheets to make the diamond shapes and the rest to make the rolls. Please know that if you would like to do the same, the baking time will be much lower.... that's because you don't have as many sheets in the baklava as if you would be using the whole package. Just check to see that the baklava is golden brown...about 40 minutes or so. Don't let it burn.

These really aren't that difficult to make...even if your phyllo sheets get torn as you layer, just patch them up and you won't be able to tell the difference.
This is perfect for a large gathering...I usually cut them and place them in muffin/candy paper liners. These are best eaten at least one day after being baked, it allows the flavors to fully develop. Hope you enjoy...

You will need:
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 package phyllo dough
4-5 cups ground walnuts*
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 TBS lemon juice, (I usually add a bit more~like 2 TBS)
3/4 cup water
1 TBS honey( I usually add a bit more)
1 TBS rose/orange flower water, optional
melted chocolate/chopped nuts, for the garnish
* optional~ add some orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, or any other flavoring you like...
*You don't have to add so much nuts~ you can substitute some dried plain breadcrumbs for the nuts...
* I have used a variety of nuts as well~ try almonds, pecans, pistachios...

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 deg F.
  • Grease an 13x9 glass pan. Alternately, you can use parchment paper, which I prefer. Set aside.
1. Chop nuts...more on the fine side than coarse.
2. Add any flavoring you like, I prefer orange peel, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. You can leave it plain as well.
(grating some nutmeg and mixing it with some cinnamon)
If you like you can add some dried plain bread crumbs. I always just use nuts. I use a phyllo dough pack that comes in 2 packages...the sheets fits almost in a 13x9 pan.
3. Brush each phyllo sheet with butter layering 5 at a time. Keep the sheets covered with a damp towel to prevent drying out.
4. Sprinkle with nuts all over.
5. Repeat layering phyllo dough and nuts, until all dough is used up. Keep in mind the amount of nuts you have so you don't run out...in case you do, you can always chop some more nuts. You should end up with the phyllo dough on top.
6. Brush the top layer with melted butter.
7. Cut through the layers diagonally and then horizontally to form diamond shapes.
Be careful as you cut, as the top sheets want to come off the nuts...press lightly with your fingers to keep it in place as you cut.
8. Bake for about 75 minutes or until nicely golden brown.
To form baklava rolls:

1. Take one( or two sheets, in case you want your roll to be thicker) phyllo sheet and brush with melted butter.
2. Using the longer side of the phyllo sheet, place a long kebab skewer (or you can also use a long knitting needle...even the back of a long wooden spoon).
3. Overlap the skewer with the edge of the phyllo sheet...about 1/2 inch of the edge.
4. On the overlapped edge, sprinkle with about 2 TBS of ground nuts.
5. Roll the baklava with the help of the skewer, just don't roll too tightly.
6. Take the roll with the help of the skewer to the pan. Wrinkle the dough off of the skewer and place in the pan.
7. Brush with melted butter. Repeat with remaining dough.
8. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown...check after 20 minutes or so. You can cut the baklava rolls in 3 pieces or even in small bites.
To make the syrup:
1. In a saucepan, heat sugar, lemon juice, and 3/4 cup water on high heat.
2. Bring to a boil and stir until all sugar is dissolved.
3. Boil for 3 minutes without stirring.
4. Remove from heat, stir in honey and rose water(if using).
5. Cover and cool completely.
6. Take hot baklava out and pour cooled syrup over entire pan...I like to use a large spoon to make sure all of the baklava gets covered. You want to pour a cool syrup over a hot baklava~this ensures that your baklava stays nice and crisp and not soggy.
7. Let cool completely. I like to place the baklava in muffin/candy liners. This helps them no to get all over you and is a great way to transport them to a party or gathering.
NOTE: It is best after it sits a day or so...the syrup penetrates the whole pastry and becomes quite delicious. You can further decorate with a drizzle of melted chocolate and/or a sprinkle of chopped nuts.
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8 comments:

Sailaja Damodaran said...

mouth watering....nice perfect.Happy X'Mas

marzipanmom said...

These look divine! Thanks for the tutorial on the rolled baklava. Bookmarking it now...

Jennifer said...

I've made this recipe several times this year and everyone loves it. I made a few minor adjustments but love the way the directions arew ritten out. Thank you for posting this :)

Ellie said...

Jennifer, You are welcome! I'm so glad you like the recipe... it's a favorite of mine. I, too, make some adjustments:)...sometimes use different nuts, different spices or flavors such as, nutmeg, cinnamon, rose water, etc....
Thank you so much for your feedback, I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know. So glad it's enjoyed by everyone...

Paige said...

Wow. I love how descriptive your post is! I can't wait to try these in my own kitchen and share with my baklava loving fam!

Ellie said...

Paige, Glad the post is helpful:).... Hope your family will enjoy the baklava as much as we do. Thanks for stopping by...

Anonymous said...

I would like to try this recipe but wasn't sure how to divide the syrup between the baklava roll and the baklava. Thanks.
Mona.

Ellie said...

Hi Mona, You know, I just divided the syrup in half. So half of the syrup went on the rolls and half went on the diamonds. I think I managed to stretch it a bit, just because I made them in 2 pans. Normally the recipe is for one package of phyllo in one pan... with the syrup amount as posted.

If you feel the syrup might not be enough( or you like your baklava on the extra moist side) then make another 1/2 batch of syrup... to be on the safe side. I felt mine had plenty of syrup.

Hope this helps. I hope you enjoy the baklava:)