Turkish Baklava

IMG_6831There are loads of recipes out there for baklava, and by far, this is the best one that I’ve found that is nearest to the taste of authentic baklava.  I’ve adapted it, but you can find the original post at:  http//tastespace.wordpress.com/2017/08/71/turkish baklava written by Janet@thetastespace.

Some recipes talk about ingredients in cups, which is the part where I do a soft groan (is that mug, a big cup or what?!).  I prefer to work in grams, less danger of me getting it wrong when I use the scales, so I end up going back to the internet to do all the conversions, which I’ve included below, to save you groaning too.

Ingredients:

  • 2-2.5 cups (1 cup – 240ml) of cold water
  • 3-3.5 cups of granulated sugar (1 cup = 200 grams)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 cups pistachios (I generally just use two 100 gram bags from Sainsbury’s – remember to save some for sprinkling on top
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1-1.5 cups of unsalted clarified butter (honestly, I just use Lurpak and it does the job), so (1 cup = 227 grams)
  • 2 packets of pyhllo dough, (we call it filo pastry in the UK) and the recipe calls for 20-22 sheets of dough, thawed – I’ve found that this isn’t enough as it doesn’t give you enough layers, and I’ve found that you need closer to 36, so I buy three packs of 12 ready rolled filo pastry
  • Finely chopped pistachio nuts (optional) – just save some from above

Steps:

This is what the recipe recommends:

1. If clarifying your own butter, start with 1 lb of unsalted butter. In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter. It will separate into 3 layers: a foamy froth on top, a clear liquid in the middle and a white solid at the bottom. When the butter is heated through and no more foam is developing, remove from heat. Remove the foam with a spoon. You want to keep the yellow liquid. You can save it by decanting it from the saucepan without disturbing the milk solids, or strain it through a cheesecloth-lined strainer.

This is what I do:  I nuke the Lurpak butter in the microwave, and it does the job just fine.

2. Preheat the oven to 375F.  I use gas mark 180

3. To make the syrup, combine the cold water with the sugar in a medium-size saucepan. Boil the mixture for 5 minutes, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 15-30 minutes. The syrup is ready when it is light yellow, and when a small spoonful dropped onto a wooden surface is tacky when cooled.  Once ready, stir in the lemon juice into the syrup and set it aside to cool.

So, yes, I do this, always a bit nervous about how long to boil it for, so I normally cop out around 4 minutes or so, and I don’t bother adding the lemon juice as I’ve found you don’t really need it for the taste.  Your choice

4. Place the nuts and sugar in a food processor and process until medium to finely ground (but not too fine!). Set aside.

When I first started making this, I didn’t have a good processor, so my tip to you if you don’t have one is to get a ziplock, put the nuts in it, and then bash it to death with a rolling pin.  Once the pieces are small enough, then sieve them into a bowl.  It’s actually quite therapeutic to bash with a rolling pin depending on the kind of week you’ve had.

5. Brush the inside of a 14 x 18 x 1 inch baking pan (if your phyllo dough is bigger than your pan, let it hang over and trim it off at the end to fit) with a little bit of the clarified butter. Place 1 sheet of phyllo dough in the pan. With a wide pastry brush or paper towel, lightly brush the dough with the clarified butter. Continue layering the dough and brushing with butter until one package of dough is used.

OK.  Combining Steps 5 & 6, I’ve found the best way to do this is to lay out your filo pastry over the top of the oven tray you’re using and grab a pair of scissors and trim so that the filo will sit nicely inside of the tray to the edges.  Then I butter the bottom of the tray all around including the sides, and then lay down a layer of the filo, then butter using a pastry brush, then filo etc, until I’ve done about six layers, and then I add a layer of the nuts, and start over again doing another six layers until I’ve used the lot.

6. Spread the nuts over the dough and lightly sprinkle it with water (it doesn’t need water, the butter works just fine) – a plant mister is best- to help the dough adhere to the nuts where the next layer is added. Using the second package of phyllo dough, layer the dough over the nuts, brushing each sheet with clarified butter. Trim the pastry edges to fit neatly within the baking pan. Brush the top layer and the edges with clarified butter.

7. Using a sharp knife dipped in hot water, cut through the dough halfway down the height of the pan to make 48 pieces (4 lengthwise and 12 cross-wise).

I don’t bother dipping the knife in hot water, just get a sharp knife, and that’ll do the trick.  I generally slice vertically and then horizontally until I’m done.

8. Bake the baklava in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. Lower the heat to 325F and bake for an additional 30 minutes until the top is lightly golden. Remove the baklava from the oven and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Recut the pastries along the lines, all the way to the bottom of the baking pan. Pour the cold syrup evenly over the cut lines (I generally use around 2/3rd of the syrup solution). Sprinkle the baklava with chopped walnuts or pistachios, if so desired, and let it cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

Depends on the type of oven you have quite frankly.  We have a fan-assisted oven, so it takes less time than above.  Just make sure you turn the tray around part-way through so it doesn’t get over-cooked, and then take it out when it’s brown, and let it rest as recommended.

Then I re-cut the filo doing my best to say in the original lines, and then add the syrup.  I generally add it all as the pastry soaks it up, and then I sprinkle on top with the left-over nuts.

Baklava is supposed to keep for about a week, but I take it into the office, and it’s gone in about two days, which can’t be bad!

IMG_6830

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