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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Baklava



A few days ago, one of my friend mentioned of her craving for Baklava. It reminded me of my fondness for this delicacy. Since then, I have been thinking of making Baklava, but I knew it wasn't going to be an easy job, but it was an ambitious project for me.
I do not do much baking and I have never worked with phyllo sheets before. This recipe needs a lot of expensive ingredients in large quantities. So when I "finally" decided to make baklava for my office party, I was excited but even more nervous.
When I started with the preparation, I kept telling my husband the same thing over and over that this is going to be a waste of time, energy and money, but I will try. It was actually my nervousness why I was blabbering, but I was doing to pump up myself for this daring act.To tell you the truth, this is not my original recipe. Again google was the savior :). I found few recipes which felt like comparatively easy. Although I made a few modifications in the amount, I stuck with the "tried-and-tested" method. It wasn't very complicated in itself, but the tricky part was assembling the whole thing. My husband helped me a lot with it; I suggest you have someone to help you during the assembling part as otherwise it is impossible to do it alone.
Once I finished putting everything together, I put it into the oven muttering "Jai Maa" :).
An hour later when it was ready, I was the happiest person in the world; I was jumping all around and grinning ear to ear. Yes, it was that good! And this time I asked my husband the same question over and over: "Doesn't it taste better than the restaurant quality?"I wasn't taking many pictures and the ones I have here doesn't justify how good it was. But I promise I will make this again soon and will post better pictures!

Ingredients:
For the syrup :
Water - 2 Cup
Sugar - 2 Cup
Honey - 1/4 Cup
Cinnamon - 1 Stick
Lemon juice - 1 Tbsp

For the filling :
Almonds - 1 and 1/2 Cup (Finely chopped)
Walnuts - 1 Cup (Finely chopped)
Pistachios - 1 Cup (Finely chopped)
Sugar - 1 Cup
Cinnamon - 1 Tbsp (Ground)
Nutmeg - 1 Tsp (Ground)
Clove - 1/4 Tsp (Ground)
Breadcrumb - 4 Tbsp
Salt - 1/4 Tsp

Butter
Phyllo pastry sheets - 1 Package (20 thin sheets)

Preparation:
Syrup :
Start with heating water.
Add the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice in it.
Bring it to a boil.
Once the sugar dissolves completely, keep it covered on low flame for at least 5 minutes.
Now add honey and put it on high heat until it dissolves, then keep it covered on low flame for 5 minutes.
After this remove from the oven, cool it down and then put it in the fridge to chill the syrup.
Remember to discard the cinnamon stick just before use.

Baklava :
Thaw the phyllo sheets completely in room temperature and always keep it covered with a damp towel.
Preheat the oven at 350 degree F.
Mix the filling ingredients very well.

Brush a 13x9 inch baking dish with butter.
Cut the phyllo sheets into half (so a total of 40 sheets) and stack them on a damp towel and cover it with a damp towel. This is important to prevent the sheets from drying.
Next stack 2 phyllo sheet on the baking dish and brush the top with melted butter. Repeat this process 10 times and brush every second sheet with butter. It should now be a total 20 sheets in the baking dish. Brush the top sheet very well with butter.
Now spread the filling evenly on the top sheet. Pour 2-3 Tbsp of butter on the filling mixture.

Continue layering for rest of the 20 phyllo sheets, and keep brushing the every second sheet top with butter.
Butter the top sheet very well and also pour butter along the edges.
Once done, let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes, so the butter solidifies back.

Next cut the baklava with a sharp knife into desired shapes/sizes, cut all the way through.
Bake this at 350 degree F for 1 hour or until the top turns golden in color.
At this point, take the dish out from oven and slowly pour the chilled syrup along the edges, between cuts and over the top.
Let it sit at room temperature for at least 8 hour. Keep it covered while it cools down.

Tip:
I struggled a lot with separating the phyllo sheets, as the edges were wet and they stick with each other because of damp towel cover. Be patient while working on it, as the sheets can tear very quickly.
This dish needs a lot (I seriously mean it) of butter, so make sure you use butter very generously.
Also ensure that the syrup is absolutely chilled when you pour it on top of the oven hot baklava.