" I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. "
I have dreamt of making Baklava ever since I had one. It is one of the sweets in middle east which I fell head over heels in love with.. Baklava is a rich crispy dessert made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey which was characteristic of former Ottoman empire( Turkey).
But more than after meals, it is munched with Turkish coffee or Kava. The unsweetened kava compliments the sweetness of the dessert perfectly.. Nuts, sugar and butter! Oh yes! It's gonna add loads of calories to your tummy..but who can resist two or three pieces of this aromatic crunchy sweetness once in a while.. ;)
But I had put off the attempt at making it until I could gather enough courage.. I don't pretend that Baklava doesn't take planning, time and fiddly work.Talk about cowards! I really am one when it comes to intimidating or intriguing procedures..
Of course the process is straight forward. But working with filo pastry can be tricky. When I read how disastrous it could be if you do not give the filo pastry its desired respect, I was kind of scared..But I hung on for inspiration. And that is exactly what I got from Joe Pastry, which describes the procedure with clear step by step pictures.It made me think that after all.... it is doable :)
And yes! It was not that difficult as anticipated... if you stick to the instructions word by word. The only thing you have to plan in advance is keep the filo pastry out of refrigerator to thaw overnight or it would screw things up. Thinking of all those advance plannings and time spend, it would be wise to make a really big batch as it keeps well for up to 10 days (covered tightly with foil) at room temperature or up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
But we didn't have much left for storage...You know my boys!!
Managed to pack a few pieces for our friends, though.... AND my Baklava is now history ;)
Still, I plan to make another batch soon. Sure the work is worth it!!
I basically adopted the recipe from Joe Pastry, but made a few changes according to my preferences. Instead of All spice powder, I used powdered cardamom and cinnamon. The flavour was fantastic..
And instead of eight layers of pastry on the top and bottom, I made it with four layers of pastry,then nuts,then again 4 layers..and I made 3 layers of nuts in total...
Mmmm.. It was one of the best Baklavas I ever tasted!!!
You can make it into any shape you desire. Even roll it into fingers with nuts inside..That way it is more easier to make. But this is the most common form of Baklava you get from confectioneries around the middle east.
16 to 20 sheets of baklava pastry/ filo pastry, thawed overnight
1 ans 1/2 cups chopped nuts (pistachios, almonds and walnuts)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Clarified butter/ pure ghee as required
For the syrup:.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 large strip of orange or lemon peel
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
- Melt the butter in a pan and remove the froth on top. You can also use pure ghee melted.
- Pulse the nuts in your food processor until they’re finely chopped but not ground down to a paste.Add brown sugar and spices.
- Gently unroll the filo pastry. Trim the sides to suit the size of your pan.Since filo will get brittle with only a few minutes’ exposure to the air, cover it with a kitchen towel spritzed lightly with water
- Apply butter to the bottom of your pan.( Take a square or rectangular baking pan)
- Drop in a filo layer and butter it liberally with a brush. Do this a total of 4 times.
- Over these four layers of filo pastry, spread 1/3 of your nut mixture and pat it down gently.
- Now start layering on more buttered sheets of filo. Four of them again.
- Spread 1/3 rd of nut mixture again on top of it. Then again 4 buttered filo sheets. Then the rest of the nuts and finally 6 to 8 layers of buttered filo on top.The pattern is 4-nuts-4-nuts-4-nuts-6. Butter the top amply.
- Now put the pan in the refrigerator and chill it for a minimum of half an hour, this will make it easier to cut. The baklava will store nicely this way for a day or more, covered if you wish. When you’re ready to bake, cut the baklava. Cut it five times horizontally, and then cut it diagonally.
- Put the baklava in the oven to bake, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the syrup ingredients except honey in a small sauce pan and simmer for 15 minutes or so until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and when slightly cooled add honey and mix well. Being an Ayurvedic doctor I prefer not to heat honey. According to Ayurveda, heating honey makes it toxic.
- When the baklava is lightly browned, remove it from the oven.
- Then carefully pour on the syrup, being careful to coat the top of every piece. Don’t make the baklava swim, just moisten everything. Sprinkle a pinch of ground pistachios over each syrup coated piece.