Ria's Collection: BAKLAVA

Monday, December 29, 2014


There was a time when I pretty much hated everything that had dry fruits or nuts in it. I would never eat a Cadbury Fruit & Nut and always wondered how people loved a Christmas fruit cake! Things didn't change much with regards to dry fruits until a few years ago when I first ate a Baklava. It was during my Masters when a friend of mine visited Dubai and brought some goodies for us. It was good. Things changed when I moved to Minneapolis post wedding. We found a good Mediterranean cafe in our little city which sold exceptionally good Baklava. Pistachio and Walnut. They were sold in tiny squares which made it even more special. Talk about portion control!
We are in Kannur right now. It's our second trip this year. So, the last time when we came here, which was in March, I made a batch of Baklava and brought it to Kannur, for Amma. She fell in love with it when she tasted it back in Minneapolis. I really wish Phyllo dough was easy to source here. I have read a couple of recipes online where they have used packaged Samosa sheets. I haven't tried it myself,so cannot really comment on how the outcome would be.

A long time back,I made an Apple Strudel for the Daring Bakers monthly challenge. That dough was super easy to put together and bakes up very well in the oven. I am guessing,maybe that could be used instead of phyllo. The Apple Strudel dough had to be rolled super duper thin,like a phyllo dough,so it might work. I took this recipe from this popular website,a site I rarely visit though. No regrets. It turned out to be really good. Making a Baklava can be intimidating to some, but, it really is simple if you follow the directions the first time you make it. Once you are happy with what you made, then, the next time onwards, you can adjust the recipe to your taste. Atleast, that's what I do. That way, I will know if it's my mistake or not if the dish doesn't turn out the way I expected it to be.
Baklava Makes about 2 -3 dozen

One 16 ounce package phyllo dough,thawed
1 pound chopped walnuts
1 cup unsalted butter,melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey

Method:Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 X 13 inch baking tray with tall sides.
Syrup: Boil water and sugar until the sugar is melted. Add honey and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the vanilla. Let it cool,while you assemble the baklava.

Toss the chopped nuts with cinnamon. Trim the phyllo dough, if need be, to fit the baking tray.Cover the phyllo dough with a damp cloth,if you are slow at working with it,because it will dry out otherwise.Place two sheets of phyllo in the pan and brush with butter. Repeat till you have 8 layers of phyllo sheets.Top it with 3 tablespoons of nuts. Top the nut mixture with two sheets of phyllo,butter it and then layer it again with nuts. Repeat till you have 8 sheets left.
Butter every second sheet of phyllo,just like how you did in the beginning.Butter the topmost sheet too. Cut them into desired shapes all the way through, using a very sharp knife. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crisp.
Immediately,pour the cooled syrup slowly evenly over the Baklava and let the whole thing cool completely. Serve as needed. Do not cover the Baklava tightly. It will get soggy.

This was a total hit among my family. Also, I realised that it's one of the simplest complicated looking thing to make! Every bite was crisp on the top and it gets succulent as you go deep into the layers.It was simply delicious!

As you might have noticed, I've been very irregular here. Holidays are meant to be spent with family right? I try to stay away from all sorts of distractions but, I couldn't leave without wishing you all a Happy New Year! I sincerely hope you had a fabulous Christmas, just like how we did! So,see you all next year then!


vedant said...

A very happy new year to you Ria and the hubby and especially the sweetest boy on earth little Ian. I'm J that you are in Kannur enjoying this beautiful time of the year. I can just imagine you attending mid night mass on x'mas eve followed by a late but heavy lunch on x'mas day that you cooked up with a lot of fun with your Amma followed I'm sure by many days of cooking goodies for new year and daily munchies. I love baklava too and fell in love with it just a month after my wedding and move to Texas in a greek cafe that sold kebab wraps, avgolemono, spanakopita and baklava- all my favorites now:-) But haven't ever tried it because it always looked so tricky. Will do now perhaps for New Years.

Write more often when you find the time. We miss your blogs.


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