Friday, July 23, 2010

You Catch More Aunts with Honey - Baklava

My aunts have been visiting over the last week. One from Texas and one from Seattle. It's been awesome seeing them after being in SoCal for so long. Somehow in our conversations, Greek food came up. As it turns out, both of my aunts are crazy for Greek food. So tomorrow I am preparing a Greek'ish Feast of things like Spanakopita, Hummus, Sopa Avgo Lemono and Kibbeh. But one should ALWAYS prepare a dessert.

Thus, Baklava arrived on the menu. Normally, I make this around the Holiday Season, but I had too many things on my plate last year. So it's the perfect time to finally get down to making a big pan. I find that I ALWAYS need to make a big pan of it, for it seems to disappear as if by magic.

The real secret to Baklava is speed. The ingredient list is actually fairly simple... nuts, a little sugar, spices and filo dough... all held together with a TON of butter... Then soaked in honey syrup. Easy... Lemme show ya.... You'll see...


3 Cups Walnuts
2 Cups Almonds
1 Cup Pistachios
4 TB Granulated Sugar
4 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Mace
1 tsp Ground Cardamom
1/2 tsp Coriander
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
2 tsp dried Orange Zest
2 lbs Filo (The Filo I buy contains 22 sheets per lb, so 44 sheets total)
1 lb Unsalted Butter
1 half-Sheet Jelly Roll Pan (it's the same size as the Filo)
1 large Pastry Brush

Honey-Lemon Sauce
1 1/2 cups Orange blossom Honey
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
1 cup Water
1 TB Orange Blossom Water
1 tsp Rose Water

Grind all nuts and place in a medium sized bowl, add sugar, spices and zest.

OK, now is when I let you in on a little secret ingredient of mine. I did not place this in the ingredient list because they can be a little hard to find, and Baklava is just as good without them. I am referring to this.....

1 tsp Ground Rose Hips. (Just a little something extra)

After you have combined all your ingredients in the bowl, you have 2 options..... Stir with a spoon....

or cover with a lid, or plastic wrap with a rubber band to secure it, and shake the bejeezus out of it.

There, see? Filling is all done.

OK, let's set up the assembly station......
Melt Butter in a sauce pan or in a measuring cup in the microwave and grab a pastry brush. The bigger the better. It will allow you to apply butter to the 'leaves' at greater speed, thus reducing the possibility of the dough leaves drying out. (it takes 10 minutes to assemble Baklava)

Remove the Filo from the refrigerator and grab the half-sheet pan, set butter to the side of the pan then unwrap your Filo and unroll onto work surface.

Brush Pan with a little butter

Then lay down the first sheet,

brush with butter and lay down the second sheet....

Continue this until you have laid down 15 sheets.

Spread 1/2 of the nut mixture over the 15th sheet and drizzle with butter from the pastry brush.

Brush your next sheet on the stack, then lay it over (Butter side down) this will adhere it to the nut mixture a little better.

Brush the side facing up and lay down your next sheet, continue brushing with butter and laying down more sheets until you lay down another 12 sheets. (you will have to open your second roll of Filo to finish this off)

Spread the remaining nut mixture and drizzle with a little butter.

Again, butter your next Filo sheet, lay it (butter side down) and brush the up facing side too.

Continue laying sheets with butter until you run out of Filo sheets. (about 17 sheets)

Using a VERY sharp knife, score your baklava by cutting 1/2 way through it (not all the way) I like to use a diamond pattern, but square is fine too.

Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before starting the syrup.

Lemon Honey Syrup

Pour Honey, Lemon Juice and Water into a large sauce pan (honey foams when boiling)

Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes until reduced to about 2 3/4 cups of liquid.

Seriously, watch for boil over... If the foaming gets too high, simply remove from the heat momentarily until the foam subsides...

Then return to the heat and continue reducing.

After the syrup has been reduced enough, remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Add the Orange Blossom Water and Rose Water, stirring to combine.

Place syrup in a container you can easily pour from.

Pour hot syrup over the cooled Baklava.

Allow 30 minutes to 1 hour for the syrup to be absorbed by the pastry, then cut all the way through with a sharp knife.

Serve to your aunts with a fresh flower. (aunts like flowers) :)

MMMMM Flaky Goodness.



Heather S-G said...

:P""""""""" ur killin' me! YUM!

DDpie said...

When I first saw the title of your blog, I thought "baklava" yadda yadda yadda. I shoulda known you'd be kicking it up a notch and going first class! Once again dude, you totally rocked it out! PS..LOVE the "secret" ingredient too ;)

Patti T. said...

Once again you have wowed me, what a great job you did with this and such great ingredients went into it. How much luggage have your aunts brought?? They are NOT going to want to ever leave after eating your good cooking.

Unknown said...

i love baklava!!!! I haven't made it in ages! your sauce sounds awesome