Baklava

I’ve always wanted to make Baklava.  It’s so good and seemed so simple, especially when people told me how easy it was to make.  Well, it’s not.  The time it took was my major problem. Blanching the nuts was the issue.  The process seems simple enough: boil water in a shallow pot, place nuts in water, boil for 30 seconds to a 1 minute, drain, peel and pat dry.  However, when you have 2 cups worth of pistachios, it is not so simple.  If I had blanched the nuts ahead of time my recipe would have gone much faster.  I realized this after I had already made the dish after reading a better article about blanching nuts.  They recommend drying the nuts in the oven with the oven light on over night.  You get a better result than just patting the nuts dry.

So here are the results to my first attempt at making Baklava.

*I commend halving the recipe because it is just too much.

Ingredients

Syrup Mixture:

  • 3 cups of sugar or 2 cups of sugar + 1 cup of honey
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 (3-inch) sticks of cinnamon (optional) I didn’t have any, so I didn’t include it
  • 4-6 whole cloves (optional) I didn’t have any, so I didn’t include it either

Filling Mixture:

  • 2 cups of blanched pistachios finally chopped
  • 2 cups of blanched walnuts finally chopped
  • Blanched almonds (if you have any…the total amount of nuts should make 4 cups worth) I didn’t have almonds so those were left out.
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1-2
  •  teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1 pound of phyllo dough (about 24 sheets)
1 cup (2 sticks) of melted butter or vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 12 x 9 inch baking pan

All the ingredients (above)

Start with making the syrup:

Stir in sugar, water, honey, lemon juice and if your have cinnamon sticks + cloves over low heat until sugar dissolves.   It should take 5 minutes.  Stop stirring, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the mixture is slightly syrupy for about 5 minutes.  If you have a candy thermometer the temperature should read 225 degrees.  Let the syrup cool and discard cinnamon sticks and cloves.

Make the filling:

Mix together the blanched chopped nuts, sugar + ground cinnamon.

Prepare the pan:

Butter all the sides of the pan and then start layering

  • Place a sheet of phyllo in the prepared pan and lightly brush with butter.  Repeat this step with 7 more sheets.
  • Spread half of the nut filling
  • Top with 8 more sheets and brush each with butter
  • Using a sharp knife cut 6 equal lengthwise strips 9about 1 3/4 inch wide) through the top layer.  You want to form a diamond shape

*Use any torn sheets in the middle layers

I added extra butter to make it even more yummy and not healthy at all. Oh well

  • Just before before baking, lightly sprinkle the top of the pastry with cold water.  This keeps the pastry from curling.
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake until golden brown for about 15 minutes
  • Remove from oven
  • Cut through the scored lines and drizzle the cooled syrup slowly over the hot baklava.
  • Let it cool for at LEAST 4 hours (I let it cover overnight) and cover at room temperature.
  • Enjoy the next day!

It tasted great but my preparation needs some work.  I’ll make it better the next time.  Overall, it turned out pretty good for my first attempt.  I feel that my second attempt at baklava will be greatly improved, now that I’ve worked out the bugs that others others had not shared.  I’m also planning on using Alton Brown’s recipe which is a lot more creative.  Alton never disappoints, so I’m sure the my next attempt will be amazing.

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