Baklava!

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by foodnfoto, Feb 11, 2002.

  1. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    Since there are quite a few folks here with expertise in Greek and Mediterranean cooking, I was hoping someone would share a great recipe for baklava. It's my husband's favorite dessert and I thought I'd make him some for Valentine's Day. Many of the recipes I've tried call for dousing it in so much honey syrup that it winds up being a big, sticky, goopy mess. Also, I can't seem to get nice pretty neat slices. When I cut it, the top layers of fillo fly off. Ahrgggh! I'd like one where the honey, nuts and cinnamon are the major flavor factors but also has crisp and tender fillo that stays together.

    Any tricks, tips, hints, recipes and jokes will be fondly appreciated.
     
  2. momoreg

    momoreg

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  3. panini

    panini

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    foodandfoto,
    Athenaeus will certainly have a recipe for you. I soak mine down like you described. Try to cut them before baking and give them a douse when coming out of the oven, this tends to stick the top layers.
    Did you know that baklave is Italian?:D :rolleyes: :D
     
  4. momoreg

    momoreg

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    Panini, I thought it was Chinese.;)
     
  5. mudbug

    mudbug

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    foodnfoto,

    Would you prefer recipes which are authentically Middle Eastern in taste or would you prefer those that appeal to American palattes?
     
  6. panini

    panini

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    Momo,
    Thats right! Where is my head at lately.:chef: :beer:
     
  7. cape chef

    cape chef

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    Hey, When you guys figure out what you think is the best, let me know. I adore honey and nuts..so I will be glad to be your offical taster.:chef:
     
  8. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    Thank you, all for directing me to the previous discussions on this subject. Now I know my problem-hot bak, hot syrup=sticky mess!

    Momoreg, your recipe sounds wonderful. I'll try it for sure. I love the simplicity as well as your penchant for small pieces. Nothing is more ungraceful to eat than a huge piece of sticky, flaky, though yummy, baklava. Flakes on my face, honey on my shirt.

    The recipe I really want is the one made by the Lebanese mother of an old boy friend of mine. Her pastries were the only reason I dated him as long as I did. Baklava-the best I've ever had! Her mamouls!!!! OMG-heaven in a cookie! I could go on and on about the meals she served. I never thought I'd be eating raw lamb (kibbe!) Just picture being the only one at a table of 16 who speaks no Lebanese. What else to do but eat and ask questions later?
     
  9. cape chef

    cape chef

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    FNF...Great story, His lose is your gain no dought.
    Hey, The very first time I met Momoreg..a year and a half I think.
    She came to where I work with a beautiful plate of little tasty treats, Her baklava was one of them. the best Iv'e ever had.
    Give it a try, you won't be dissapointed
    cc
     
  10. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    Wendy and I had a very interesting brain storm on baklava.

    After Wendy's and Momoreg's advice I started freezing mine also
    My recipe and " secrets" are all there



    http://www.cheftalkcafe.com/forums/s...hlight=baklava

    I have also posted on the history on baklava in the thread

    Ancient Baklava for WdeBord

    Funny foodnfoto

    I have a story for baklava and Lebanon too.
    Well. I wasn't very fond of Arabs and anything Middle eastern that wasn't Jewish :blush:
    I know, it was stupid because for years I didn't have access to a huge chapter of Human Civilization.
    But... things come strange in life.
    My husband's ex-wife is Lebanese. He has lived in Lebanon and as being a true bon-viveur he loved Lebanese Cuisine. He started cooking in our house every kind of Lebanese food and at the beginning I was really uspet about that.
    But you know how food works, it can tame you for good... :)
    I became a phanatic of Lebanese cuisine and Arab cuisine in general.
    Although I used to bake baklava on a professional basis and it's very easy for me to prepare good baklava with my phyllo, after tasting Lebanese baklava I keep finding excuses to make Nick bake the Lebanese version of this exquisite pastry.
    We have bet, if his team looses in the soccer tonight by my team, he will have to bake baklava tommorrow :)
    If my team looses he will have to bake a small pan in order to console me :)
    We are having Lebanese baklava, anyway

    I have to admit. Lebanese Baklava is better than the Greek. Middle eastern pastries are more noble in general because our (Greek) food is the food of poverty but theirs in the food of abudance of a blessed Land.

    :)
     
  11. momoreg

    momoreg

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    What's the difference (in ingredients) between the Greek and Lebanese baklava?
     
  12. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    Greek baklava's filling is made from walnuts or almonds
    Lebanese baklava is made from pistachios and of course they use extensively the rose water

    According to my knowledge of course
     
  13. monpetitchoux

    monpetitchoux

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    Athenaeus: Would you mind sharing your recipe for your husband's Lebanese Baklava? I do like rosewater or orange flower water with my syrup pastries.

    I learned to make baklava from an Istrian woman who learned it from a Greek woman when I was a teenager. Very like your recipe from the previous thread. Then I learned a North African version from my chef (it's his mother's recipe passed down to his sister but skipped him because he doesn't like it) where we have to make a crunchy dough that is rolled out thin like phyllo but is not like phyllo. All of it was delicious to me because I like nuts and honey.

    By the way, what qualities do you look for in the honey you use for your syrup (e.g. robust or light?). I've heard people say that Greek honey is something very special. But I haven't had any.
     
  14. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    2 c Med. chopped pistachio nuts
    1/3 c Sugar
    1 tb Rose water
    1 lb Filo dough
    1 lb Drawn butter or sweet butter
    Syrup


    For the syrup

    2 c Sugar
    1 c Water
    Few drops of lemon juice
    1 ts Rose water

    Preparation

    Combine pistachios, sugar and rose water.
    Filo dough may be spread in a buttered 10 x 14 inch pan, brushing each layer with butter.
    Half way through the layering, place nut mixture in 1/2 to 3/4 inch layer. Then continue layering buttered filo on top. Cut in diamond shaped pieces. Bakeat 300 degrees for one hour or until golden brown.
    Pour syrup over baklava


    Oh Honey is a topic I have a lot of information . What distinguishes the Greek Honey as all the Greek products is that they are still prepared the old methods.

    In Athens and the related area of Attica they produced since antiquity the best honey

    Very early, from 4th ce BC they have created great recipes for pastries just because they produced it and It was famous in whole Meditteranean.

    For baklava, I do not use sugar in the filling, so for the syrop I have to use a honey that is robust as you described it.
    The honey of Attica is this kind of product.

    BUT for the recipe above if you would like to substitute sugar for honey I would suggest you to use a light flower honey.The one we call here Spring honey.

    Oh I forgot to mention that Attica's honey that is exported to the States, is produced by bees that they have been eating exclusively thyme...That;' why it's robust and very very aromatic and a bit dark.

    I have to tell you that monpetitchoux

    Last year a client of mine in order to thank me for some paper work, brought me as present a bee-hive of wax!!!! He brought me the honey with the wax of the bees as they collect it from the hives...
    This gift was preciouss... usually they do not remove that only for special occasions.

    In order to eat it you cut a piece of wax and you put it in your mouth, you chew it without shallowing the wax which is BTW so aromatic and great

    Have you ever tasted that?
     
  15. momoreg

    momoreg

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    There is honey sold with the comb, but it's harder to find than plain honey, and it's more expensive.

    Thanks for the background, Athenaeus.
     
  16. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    Athenaeus-where do you use the honey in your recipe?
    I missed it.
     
  17. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    I make the syrup with honey and not with sugar

    :)
     
  18. monpetitchoux

    monpetitchoux

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    I have to say, Athenaeus, that I've enjoyed all your posts on honey very much. Thank you, also, for answering a question I had on the bees' diet before I even asked it. There's a beekeeper's wife here in the Napa valley whom I have become acquainted with. She let's me know when her husband, the beekeeper, is ready to spin the honey so that I can have a taste of honey in the comb. They also do it the old-fashioned way. If ever I meet you, I will have to get a bit of their orange flower honey for you to eat. It's really very special. I'll have to stop by a Greek market to get some thyme honey from Attica in order to make your baklava recipe. Thank you also for posting the Lebanese Baklava recipe. It's more like the recipes I'm used to, though, somtimes, I use a little orange flower water in the filling and then make a syrup with orange flower honey because I really like the fragrance.

    By the way, how do you feel about using almonds instead of walnuts (or a mixture) in your filling? I have a bias toward almonds and an uneasiness toward walnuts.
     
  19. mudbug

    mudbug

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    The following is from The Complete Greek Cookbook by Theresa Yianilos

    Baklava

    Ingredients:

    1 lb Phyllo/Filo

    Filling:
    3 C or more chopped nuts: walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios or any combination desired
    1/4 C sugar
    1/2 t cinnamn
    1 lemon, grated rind only
    1/2 lb melted sweet butter or clarified salted butter
    whole cloves or cassia buds

    Topping:
    3 C sugar
    2 C water
    1/8 t cream of tartar
    juice of one lemon
    2 t rose or brandy flavoring or 1/4 C honey

    Mix ingredients for filling, set aside.

    Melt butter and clarify, keep in pan to reheat of it cools and doesnt flow easily while you're working with the phyllo/filo. Use pastry brush to oil generously the bottom and sides of a large rectangular baking pan. Cut phyllo/filo an inch larger than your pan. Use scissors.

    Place sheet of phyllo/filo in pan and sprinkle lightly with warm butter. Place another sheet of phyllo/filo on top of the first sheet, and sprinkle lightly with butter atain. Continue until you have spread 6 or more sheets. Spread half of the filling, including the corners.

    Cover with 6 or more sheets of phyllo/filo sprinkling with butter in between. Add remaining filling. Cover with remaining sheets, oiling between each one.

    Roll edges and tuck inside of pan. Do not trim as you would do for a pie. Oil the top with remaining butter. Before baking, ct thru top layers only, into the traditional diamond shapes. Use a small sharp knife with a ruler to guide you.

    :lips:
     
  20. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    I will be honest on that monpetitchoux

    I started using wallnuts in my filling because baking wallnut baklava is very very difficult , you are always on the edge of failure and I wanted to show- off my skills in baking... I was working in the professional kitchen those days and showing skills was obligatory.

    I like wallnuts very much and It's a very popular dessert in Greece to have just wallnuts and honey. Some people put wallnuts and honey on yoghurt.

    On the other hand.
    Almond gives a lighter texture and is cheeper too... if you like the flower scents as orange and rose water, I think it's better to use almonds.

    A TIP

    I have discovered recently that powdering some of the nut filling, wallnut or almond or pistachio gives a more flexible texture to the filling and permits the layers staying together too ESPECIALLY if you use sugar in the filling. Try it ;)

    Orange flower honey...
    Orange is my favorite fruit :) This honey must be delicious.