52 Projects is an adventure in discovery. Every week, for 52 weeks, do something. Something you’ve never done before. Something you’ve always wanted to do. Something that scares you. Something that inspires you. Something that inspires others. Something that tickles your fancy. Something that caught your eye. Something that just popped into your head. It can be big. It can be small. It can be whatever you want it to be. Find out how doing something can lead you to discover things about yourself, your world, your God. Then, come here on Sundays and share it with others. I'll write about mine here, you write about yours on your blog, then use the tool in my post to link to your something. Please feel free to jump in and participate anytime throughout the year!
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Week 3: Baklava
Fourteen years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, I was traveling in Greece. While there, I developed the most intense craving for Baklava. One bite and I was hooked. I’m sure I insisted on stopping at every pastry shop within a 200 mile radius of Athens. Since then, I still love it and I have always wanted to make it. However, working with phyllo dough has always intimidated me and Baklava seems so delicate and complicated that I never bothered making it myself. Until now. Yesterday we had a huge snow storm and I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to stay inside and cross this one off of my list of “things I’ve always wanted to try”.
Working with phyllo can be tricky. You have to make sure it’s thawed. Phyllo comes in a roll. Once it’s unfolded flat on your work space, you’ll notice all the layers of paper thin pastry. The trick is to keep it covered with a damp towel while you work with it. Once exposed to the air, phyllo will dry out quickly if it is not kept moist. The layers are super paper thin. Once you get started with the Baklava it’s like layering lasagna; only you’ll be making the layers with melted butter, cinnamon and nuts. The “syrup” is so easy to make. Once the pastry layers come out of the oven all nice and baked, the syrup gets poured over the entire top and absorbs in to the pastry. This was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.
The end results were pretty good. I thought the Baklava was a little heavy on the syrup. Next time I make this, I’ll play around with a little less. In the end, I am very proud of my efforts and may even research more recipes using phyllo dough since I am no longer intimidated by it. If you’re thinking about making this, I will forewarn you that this is a dessert for those who love extremely sweet treats. Bon appetite!
•1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough ( I used one of the twin packs that came in the box)
•1 pound chopped nuts
•1 cup butter melted (I used a stick and a half)
•1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1 cups water
•1 cups white sugar
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used 1teaspoon vanilla and one teaspoon rose water)
•1/2 cup honey
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
2.Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.
3.Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
4.Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
5.Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.