Monday, June 27, 2011

I Must Be Nuts! (Daring Bakers’ June Challenge)

This month the Daring Bakers were not only daring; we went NUTS, Nuts for Baklava that is.
Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

Our challenge, if we chose to accept it, and I did, was to make homemade phyllo dough. Yes, you know the dough bought in the freezer section near the puff pastry and pie dough, the dough that requires you to place a wet towel over the unused portion while layering it so it does not dry out, the dough that is mass produced and rolled out by a machine to be uber paper thin. Yes, that dough was made… from scratch… by me… in my kitchen and then layered into baklava.

The dough recipe is fairly simple and easy to work with. It is stretchy and comes together with ease. The technique used by old-world, home phyllo rollers is to role the dough around a dowel to get it as thin as possible. I tried that technique and it worked pretty well, but I had a lot of problem with the dough sticking together. I floured, floured, and floured some more, but the dough still stuck.

When I finally got all the dough rolled out and set aside, it all stuck together so badly that I was not able to separate the leafs of phyllo to layer the phyllo for the baklava. At that point I did not want to scrap all the hard work that I had already accomplished and decided to cut the sheets with a circle cookie cutter and layer it in a standard sized muffin tin. I was able to salvage enough dough to make about 8 baklava “cakes.”

One of my baklava-loving friends calls my baklava southern style. I browned the butter. (I <3 browned butter!) I used almonds and pecans mixed with brown and white sugar for the filling. For the syrup I used locally harvested honey infused with cinnamon, cloves, all spice, nutmeg, and bourbon vanilla.

The baklava was flavorful and sweet, but not too sweet (I go light on the syrup and only pour on what the baklava can absorb in a few minutes). I was suppose to taste one piece so I could comment on the flakiness of the homemade dough, the toothsome-ness of the filling, and get a cute one bite picture; but, we are talking about me here and 3-4 bites later, I had officially had baklava… for breakfast… at 8 AM. It was good, too!

And then at some point later on that day, I had another piece. Then I promptly decided the other pieces had to get out of my house, immediately! To keep the baklava intact and give it away, I made these cute little baklava packets which I distributed.

May I mention again, I rolled this dough… MYSELF! :-D

 You can get the recipe on the Daring Kitchen web-site and check out the other Bakers’ baklava.

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