Who does not like baklava?
You know the taste, and you love it, don’t you? Sure you cannot find the freshest ingredients an expert claims to be using, but you can get close to it by using this recipe I have taken from “Sultan’s Kitchen” by Ozcan Ozan. I suggest this book to everybody who is interested in Turkish cooking. Do not know how many times I have made this dessert over the years, and this recipe never fails. Having the filo doughs already made helps a lot, too! I can roll dough myself, but never tried to make baklava from scracth — that would be challenging to say the least.
Make sure to start making baklava when you are not pressured for time, as it takes some effort to brush all those filo dough one by one; remember, nothing that tasty comes easy! The amount of butter should not be surprising, but believe me, it does not give you stomach ache. Also, do not make it when you are hungry. The smell coming out of the oven will make it worse. All these are fair warnings. ..
Many debates on who made it first, which culture it belongs to etc etc. Who cares? Just eat it and enjoy. Having said that, I simply do not like the syrup when it is made with honey. :( Some people I know had never had a chance to have it with this simple syrup, and once they try this, they like it better. Also, it should not be soggy at all. You should still be able to taste the crispiness of the buttered dough.
OK, I do not want to write anymore. You can try it out and taste it for yourself, and call me over for a piece, will you?
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 3 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- 3 cups walnuts, plus extra for sprinkling (optional)
- 3 Tbs sugar
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted clarified butter (recipe follows)
- 2 packages of filo dough, each containing about 20 – 22 sheets of dough
- Finely chopped pistachio nuts (optional)
Steps to make it:
- Heat the oven to 375F
- The syrup: combine cold water with sugar in a medium-size saucepan. Boil the mixture for 5 mins, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for about 15 mins. The syrup is ready when it is light yellow, and when a small spoonful dropped onto a wooden surface and cooled is tacky. Stir the lemon juice into the syrup and set it aside to cool.
- The clarified butter: Melt a pound of butter in a saucepan over low heat until white foam appears on the surface. Skim and discard the foam. Slowly pour the clarified butter in a bowl, leaving behind and discarding the milk solids that have collected at the bottom of the pan. It will keep for a few weeks stored in a cool place. Mr. Ozan suggests using this technique as the clarified butter lacks the impurities that cause butter to burn easily and turn black.
- Place the walnuts and sugar in a food processor. Process until medium to finely ground – do not grind too fine. Set aside.
- Brush the inside of a 14 x 18 x 1 inch baking pan all over with a little of the clarified butter. Place one sheet of dough in the pan. With a wide pastry brush, lightly brush the dough with a little of the clarified butter. Continue layering the dough and brushing with butter until one package of dough is used.
- Spread the walnuts over the dough and lightly sprinkle it with water – using a plant mister is best — to help the dough adhere to the walnuts when the next layer is added, Using the second package of filo dough, layer the dough over the walnuts, brushing each sheet with a little of the butter. Trim the pastry edges to fit neatly in the baking pan. Brush the top layer and the edges with clarified butter.
- Using a sharp knife dipped in hot water, cut through the dough halfway down the height of the pan. To make 48 pieces, make 4 lengthwise cuts and 12 crosswise cuts.
- Bake the baklava in the center of the oven for 30 mins. Lower the heat to 325F and bake for additional 30 mins, until the top is light golden. Remove the baklava from the oven and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 mins. Recut the pastries along the lines all the way to the bottom of the baking pan and pour the cold syrup evenly over the cut lines. Sprinkle the baklava with ground walnuts or pistachio nuts, if so desired, and let it cool completely. Serve at room temperature.
Note: Baklava keeps for one week stored in a cool, dry place. That is, if you can stop yourself from eating it all!
For the pics of professionally made ones, take a look at http://lezzetinizinde.blogspot.com/2005/10/karaky-gllolunun-baklavas-18.html