Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Baklava

Special occasions call for really special treats, don't they?

And this is a special occasion that warrants a really special treat. After all, this is the time of festival of lights Diwali, my favourite festival. But more importantly, this is my 150th post and in a neat coincidence, it is also the month my blog turns 2!


And as far as special treats go, there can be nothing more exotic or exquisite than baklava.









Believed to be of Turkish origin, baklava is an extremely popular sweet in Greece, Turkey and the Middle East. Layers of phyllo pastry stuffed with nuts and sweetened with some sugar syrup, baklava is one of my favourite sweets and was something that I had been craving for a long time now.


The recipes sounded easy enough but one thing held me back - the fear of working with phyllo dough.


As it turned out, my fears were completely misplaced. Phyllo dough is not quite the villain I had thought it was. In fact, I found it surprisingly easy to work with, making me wonder why I had been putting off making baklava for so long!


Don't let the long recipe put you off - making baklava is very, very easy. All that it needs is some pre-preparation and a single minded devotion to the task at hand.








Ingredients:


Phyllo dough: 24 sheets
Assorted nuts: 1.5 cups (I used pistachios, pecan nuts, hazelnuts and almonds)
Sugar: 1/4 cup
Cardamom powder: 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon powder: 1/2 tsp
Melted ghee (or butter): 1/3 cup


for the syrup:


Sugar: 3/4 cup
Honey: 1/4 cup
Water: 1 cup
Cinnamon stick: 2"long
Cardamom pods: 10 nos, slightly bruised
Lemon juice: 1.5 tbsp
Rose water: 2.5 tbsps



Method:


The one essential thing while making the baklava is to have all your pre-preparation completed in all respects before starting the assembly.


So, first thaw the phyllo dough as per the package instructions. Hastily and inadequately thawed sheets tend to stick to each other and tear. Once thawed, cover the sheets with a moist cheesecloth till you are ready to proceed with the assembly.


Next up, make the sugar syrup. In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients required for making the syrup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a further 10 - 15 mins or until thick and well....syrupy. Cool completely.


While the sugar syrup simmers, process the nuts in the mixie to get a coarse powder. (If using a mix of nuts, process them separately). Toss the nuts with sugar, the cinnamon and cardamom powders. Set aside.

Melt the ghee/butter.

Brush the sides and bottom of your baking dish with the melted ghee.


Finally, cut the thawed phyllo sheets to fit your baking tray. With a sharp knife, you can cut all sheets in one go. I cut my sheets to fit a 8"x10" pan.

Now you are ready to assemble the baklava:


Place a sheet of the phyllo dough into the baking dish and brush it with some melted ghee. Repeat 7 times, making sure you brush the top of each sheet with melted ghee before placing
another sheet on top.

Spread 1/2 cup of the nut mixture on top.


Then place 4 sheets of phyllo dough on top of the nut mixture, brushing each sheet with the melted ghee.
Again spread 1/2 cup of the nut mixture.
Repeat with 4 sheets of phyllo dough and 1/2 cup of nuts once again.


Finally, place 8 sheets of phyllo dough on top of the nuts.


So, once assembled, the baklava will have:


8 sheets of phyllo at the bottom
1/2 cup of nuts
4 sheets of phyllo
1/2 cup of nuts
4 sheets of phyllo
1/2 cup of nuts
8 sheets of phyllo


Cut into squares or diamonds, making sure that you cut all the way through to the last sheet of the phyllo dough.


Bake at 180 degC or 350 degF for about 30 - 35 mins or until the top is evenly browned and crisp.


Pour the cooled sugar syrup over the baklava as soon as you take it out of the oven. Allow the baklava to soak the syrup for a minimum of 6-8 hours and preferably overnight; in fact it tastes the best when left undisturbed for 24 hours - that is if it lasts that long.




Utterly decadent, baklava is a sinful treat that is absolutely irrestible. Take it from someone who is very careful about what she eats, the baklava is so very addictive that you will find it difficult to stop at just one. This recipe yielded 20 pieces but at the rate at which they were disappearing, I actually had to hide a couple of pieces for taking pictures - the rest were gone that very day!


So go ahead and indulge!




22 comments:

  1. Congrats on completing two years :)

    Lovely baklava.. looks so damn yummy :) I'm drooling :)

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  2. Congrats and wish you many more Baklava looks so tempting.

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  3. Must try to go hunting for Phyllo dough. Lovely click. Looks delicious and tempting.

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  4. Congratulations on your 150th Post. The Baklava looks so delicious. I too hadn't realised how easy it could be to make. We get phylo (it's sold as filo pastry here in UK) so I will bookmark it to try soon.

    Please share your mithai recipes at the event I am running at:
    http://www.givemesomespice.com/2010/11/event-announcement-complete-my-thali.html

    It's for a good cause.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Aqua,
    wow! We love baklava and I had saved in my drafts also..will publish it later..and you know like you I too dreaded Pyhllo sheets, but it's just not that bad either..we love almond baklava, pistachio baklava, walnut baklava, you get the picture here ..no wonder why I am putting on so much weight :-)..
    Congratulation on completing two years of blogging and 150th post ..hugs and smiles

    ReplyDelete
  6. Congrats for ur 150th post and completely two years of blogging..Beautiful looking baklava, wat an excellent way to celebrate this beautiful day..

    ReplyDelete
  7. Baklava always tempts. I had attempted once with fewer layers. Now you tempt me to make it but I will have to make it from scratch. Congrats on the 2nd anniversary!

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  8. What a great looking baklava. Its my fav dessert that I tasted when I came to the U.S. I love the crunchy texture in it.Killer clicks.

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  9. Scrumptious!!Congrats on u'r 150th post

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  10. Congrats on the landmarks! I've seen some baklava here but it isn't good. We don't get phyllo sheets, as far as I know.

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  11. Congrats on the landmarks! Awesome baklava!

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  12. Beautiful!! Its ages since I made any!!

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  13. Aqua, Congratulations on 150 post and completing two successful years. I have had store bought baklava before and did not care for it much. But your version sounds scrumptious. Maybe will give it a try for some special occasion of mine!

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  14. For me good baklava IS a special occassion. I have followed in love over it and now I'm going to save this recipe. The picture looks scrumptious. J

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  15. I am and always crave for Baklava. and this is still on my to do list. Congrats on your 150th post and 2 years!!!

    I don't think i can put off the baklava too long. I will make it and indulge.

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  16. Hey,

    The baklava looks awesome...:)

    Dr.Sameena@

    http://www.myeasytocookrecipes.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hey Aqua, congratulations on the 2 yr blog-birthday, 150th post, and Happy Diwali. :) So many excuses to make baklava! Looks decadent, moist and crisp all at once.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you all for your comments and wishes. Sorry I have been unable to acknowledge them with individual responses as I am lazing around at my mom's!

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  19. An adventagious endevour, and yet so worth it! Special treats are always the best recipes, well done!

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  20. what temp do you bake at please reply asap!!!

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  21. Hi neden, sorry I seem to have missed the temperature setting, thanks for pointing it out.
    I bake it at 180 deg C or 350 deg F.

    ReplyDelete

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