Monday, June 27, 2011
daring bakers, june.
God, is there anything better than chopping nuts by hand? Few things, to be sure. Melting chocolate, maybe. Halfway through making this month's Daring Bakers challenge, I was convinced there was not. I love chopping nuts - their quick crunch under the blade, the meditative motion of reducing them to a fine powder... so much more soothing than using a food processor.
And that's what this month was all about - doing things by hand. We were asked to make the phyllo and given the option of making any variations we liked - but I went classic. I love baklava. More than anything. I always wanted a baklava wedding cake, though that may be a contradiction in terms. Point is - nuts, spiced syrup, crisp pastry? What more could a girl ask for?
I made a bit too much, if I'm honest, and now have an entire roasting tin full of baklava. Even I, baklava addict that I am (I once ate about 12 servings when I was in Greece for 7 days) cannot eat it. I might need some help... any volunteers?
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
1 1/3 cups (320 ml) (185 gm/6½ oz) unbleached all purpose (plain) flour
1/8 teaspoon (2/3 ml) (¾ gm) salt
1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) cider vinegar, (could substitute white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, but could affect the
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt 2. Mix with paddle attachment 3. Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl. 4. Add water & oil mixture with mixer on low speed, mix until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a
little more water (I had to add a tablespoon more). 5. Change to the dough hook and let knead approximately 10 minutes. You will end up with beautiful smooth dough. If you are kneading by hand, knead approx. 20 minutes. 6. Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead for 2 more minutes. Pick up the dough and through it down hard on the counter a few times during the kneading process. 7. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil. 8. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30-90 minutes, longer is best.
Rolling your dough:
1. Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger then a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep
the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out. 2. Be sure to flour your hands, rolling pin and counter. As you roll you will need to keep adding, don’t worry, you can’t over-flour. 3. Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out. 4. Wrap the dough around your rolling pin/dowel. 5. Roll back and forth quickly with the dough remaining on the dowel (see attached video for a visual,
its much easier then it sounds). 6. Remove; notice how much bigger it is! 7. Rotate and repeat until it is as thin as you can it. Don’t worry if you get rips in the dough, as long as you have one perfect one for the top you will never notice. 8. When you get it as thin as you can with the rolling pin, carefully pick it up with well floured hands and stretch it on the backs of your hands as you would a pizza dough, just helps make it that much thinner. Roll out your dough until it is transparent. 9. Set aside on a well-floured surface. Repeat the process until your dough is used up. Between each sheet again flower well. You will not need to cover your dough with a wet cloth, as you do with boxed dough, it is moist enough that it will not try out.
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) honey
1 1/4 cups (300ml) water
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 (2-inch/50 mm) piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best)
a few cloves or a pinch or ground clove
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved. 2. Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally. 3. Once boiled for 10 minutes remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks.
1 (5-inch/125 mm piece) cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (8 gm) ground cinnamon
15 to 20 whole allspice berries ( I just used a few pinches)
3/4 cup (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) blanched almonds
3/4 cup (180 ml) (155 gm/5½ oz) raw or roasted walnuts
3/4 cup (180 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) raw or roasted pistachios
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm/ 5 1/3 oz) sugar
phyllo dough (see recipe above)
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225g/8 oz) melted butter
1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
2. Combine nuts, sugar and spices in a food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped. If you do not
have a food processor chop with a sharp knife as fine as you can. Set aside. 3. Trim your phyllo sheets to fit in your pan. 4. Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet. 5. Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade phyllo is thicker so it's not needed) 6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top 7. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times 8. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top
9. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times. 10. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top. 11. Continue layering and buttering phyllo 5 more times. On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of phyllo
with no holes if possible, just looks better. 12. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance. 13. With a Sharp knife cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces. If you can't cut all the ways
through don’t worry you will cut again later. A 9x9 pan cuts nicely into 30 pieces. Then brush with a
generous layer of butter making sure to cover every area and edge. 14. Bake for approximately 30 minutes; remove from oven and cut again this time all the way through. Continue baking for another 30 minutes. (Oven temperatures will vary, you are looking for the top to be a golden brown, take close watch yours may need more or less time in the oven) 15. When baklava is cooked remove from oven and pour the cooled (will still be warmish) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to cover all surfaces when pouring. It looks like it is a lot but over night the syrup will soak into the baklava creating a beautifully sweet and wonderfully textured baklava!