Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making Baklava using homemade phyllo dough. Baklava, a sweet rich pastry made with nuts sweetened with simple syrup sandwiched between layers of phyllo dough. Although popular as a Greek dessert, it’s origin has never really been authenticated as many Middle Eastern countries claim it to be theirs.
I was not a big fan of Baklava found it way too sweet for my palate until I made one that suited my taste buds. I improvised the layers with a rich dark chocolate-hazelnut-pistachio-rose filling, scented with rosewater syrup. I loved the bitterness from the dark chocolate layers that followed the sweetness of the rose scented syrup ( very unusual but work very well).
To fill my baking dish (13'x8.5') I cut 18 layers of phyllo to get 36 sheets.
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 taste)
In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt. Mix with paddle attachment. Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Add water & oil mixture with mixer on low speed, mix until you get soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water. 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. 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. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30-90 minutes, longer is best.
Rolling your Phyllo
Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger than a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out. 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. Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out. Wrap the dough around your rolling pin/dowel. Roll back and forth quickly with the dough remaining on the dowel. 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. 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. 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.
For the Syrup
11/4 Cup (280g/10oz) sugar
1/2 Cup (120ml) honey
11/4 Cup (300ml) water
2 Tbsp (30ml) rosewater
Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Boil for 10min remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks.
For the Filling
3/4 cup (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) roasted hazelnuts
3/4 cup (180 ml) (155 gm/5½ oz) dark chocolate chopped
3/4 cup (180 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) raw or roasted pistachios
Few dried edible rose petals
phyllo dough (see recipe above)
1/2 cup (1 stick) (120 ml) 113g/4 oz) melted butter
Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Combine nuts and chocolate in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor chop with a sharp knife as fine as you can. Set aside. Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet. Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 8 times ending with butter. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top. Continue layering and buttering phyllo 8 more times. On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of phyllo with no holes if possible, just looks better. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance. 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. 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. 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 the humps & bumps. Set aside to cool at room temperature overnight for the syrup to be absorbed. Serve at room temperature or warm slightly if desired with a scoop of ice-cream.