Yet another family tradition! Every year my Dad would get out the baking pans and make a huge portion of Baklava to enjoy during the holidays. He would give it to friends and family as a delicious treat when they came over for visits as well as gobble up one himself. Mmmmmm. I always enjoyed this undertaking and when I could, I helped him make it.
A couple of weeks ago my hubby sent me a link to the the Honey Harvest Hootenanny on October 1st ( link ), a fundraiser for an awesome place in downtown Oakland that teaches people how to live more sustainably. They put on fun events and also have interesting classes, everything from farming, rainwater harvesting, bee keeping and even arts and crafts. If I wasn't pregnant, I would have really enjoyed partaking in their bee-keeping series. You can check out their website at http://aplaceforsustainableliving.org/
During this "Honey Harvest Hootenanny" they are holding a competition of foods made with honey that don't have any refined sugars in them. Gary then suggested some Baklava. At first I rolled my eyes and thought, "Yeah right, at 8 months pregnant? You got to be kidding me!" But as you've read in previous posts, somehow my nesting instincts have strayed away from cobwebs and dusty corners and been more geared towards cooking and crafting. I bought the ingredients and I decided to put it together.
Now Baklava has a reputation of taking forever to make, it really wasn't all that bad. Overall, from beginning to end, I think it took about 3 hours. The original recipe that came from my grandmother's cookbook was not an option because it uses white sugar, not only that, but to be honest, I always had trouble understand what the heck she was talking about. A lot of times her measurements would be along the lines of, "a spoonful of this" and "a shot full of that". Without my Dad to help me, I decided I needed a more "legit" recipe to follow. Sorry Yayoula! I started looking for alternative recipes and found this awesome blog called The Nourishing Apron. I CAN'T WAIT to try other recipes that she's posted. This Baklava recipe was inspired by hers, although not without my own tweaks and knowledge of making this scrumptious dessert.
Here ya go!
-The night before, thaw out phyllo dough in the fridge. Keeping the dough in the box, set out an of hour before assembling Baklava so that it will come to room temperature.
- First, make the syrup
Ingredients for syrup:
2 cups of water
1 cup of dates, pitted and quartered
2 cups of honey
1 Tbs of cloves
-Simmer all ingredients, except the honey, in a covered pot for about 1/2 hour.
-Pull syrup off stove and ad honey, stir and set aside to let cool.
Ingredients for pastry:
1 lb box of whole wheat phyllo dough
2 sticks of butter
1 Tbs allspice
1 1/2 lbs of pecans
Small hand-full of whole cloves for decoration
-In food processor, coarsely grind pecans
-Melt 2 sticks of salted butter in a pot.
-Butter bottom of a 9x13 inch platter
-Take phyllo out of package and put on baking sheet, usually the phyllo sheets are large and can be cut in half to fit almost directly into your 9x13 inch platter. Important(!): Cover dough with a damp kitchen towel so that it doesn't dry out between uses.
-Add a layer of phyllo dough to bottom of platter, then drizzle and brush butter on.
-Add 6 more layers of dough the same way.
-Take a handful of pecans and spices and put a thin layer on top of doe, a bit heavier than a "sprinkle".
-Cover with another layer of phyllo dough, butter, and pecans. Note: In the beginning you may have to cut the phyllo do to fit the pan.
-Repeat process three or four times.
-Re-enforce with an extra layer of phyllo dough and butter (no pecans). Then start process again till all the nuts are gone.
-Add 4 more layers of butter and dough.
-Cut diagonally and put a clove into each square.
-Cook in oven at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes till golden brown.
-When baklava comes out of the oven, poor syrup between pieces of baklava, you should hear a nice sizzle. Be careful not to cover entire piece with syrup as it will make it soggy.
-Set aside and let it cool! It's usually best eaten room temperature after it has "firmed up" a bit and the honey has been sucked into the pastry.
Mmmmmmm! Salivating again!