FROM PHYLLO TO BAKLAVA!!! – THE DARING BAKERS’ JUNE, 2011 CHALLENGE

Last week we had our college batch reunion…A small gathering of 20 friends and their families .. Friends seeing each other after a gap of 12 long years.. The excitement and fervor .. Catching up with old times, filling in the details.. Had  a really great evening. And I’m still in that blissful state after seeing faces that were part of life years ago… And from the facebook comments flowing in , I can feel that I am not the only one in this euphoric state.. ‘ Let’s have more get togethers ’ is the mantra now.. 🙂

And another thing that I would love to mention is –  thank you from the bottom of the heart to my friends for all their appreciation and support to this blog.. Thank You guys, your words mean a lot to me and motivate me to keep going..

So back to the recipe… This month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was Baklawa... “Baklawa  is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey” – Wikipidea

I was really intimidated after seeing the challenge for this month.. Initially I was not sure how rolling out the dough will turn out, but I was quite surprised to see that the dough was really silky soft and had no problem in rolling it out super thin (though I had minor rips in the dough, it really didn’t matter in the end product..) … What I did falter though was on the sweetness of the Baklawa.. Hubby and me are  not fond of too much sweetness in the Baklawas. Knowing that, I should have reduced the amount of sugar syrup than mentioned in the recipe.. hmm, next time should keep that in mind.. But when I served them to my Baklawa loving friends, they mentioned that these are better than those bought from the bakery… hmm… Music to the ears… 🙂 .

But I must say this recipe is a keeper.. I wouldn’t have ventured to preparing Baklawas starting from the dough had it  not been for the Daring Bakers.. Thank You Erica for this wonderful challenge.. I really enjoyed making them..

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.


Phyllo Dough:

To fill a 8” x 5” baking dish.

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt.
  2. Mix with paddle attachment.
  3. Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl.
  4. Add water & oil mixture with mixer on low speed, mix until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil
  8. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30-90 minutes, longer is best ( I let mine rest overnight)

Rolling your Phyllo

  1. Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger then a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.
  2.  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.
  3. Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. NOTE: you will not get it as thin as the frozen phyllo dough you purchase at the store, it is made by machine
  6. Set aside on a well-floured surface. Repeat the process until your dough is used up. Between each sheet again flour 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.

Baklava Recipe

Ingredients      

For the syrup:

  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) honey (I used only 1 cup)
  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) water
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 (2-inch/50 mm) piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best)
  •  a few cloves or a pinch or ground clove

When you put your baklava in the oven start making your syrup. When you combine the two, one of them needs to be hot.

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved

2. Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally.

3. Once boiled for 10 minutes remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks

Ingredients for the Filling:

  • 1 (5-inch) cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) blanched almonds
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) (155 gm/5½ oz) raw or roasted walnuts
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) raw or roasted pistachios
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm/ 5 1/3 oz) sugar
  • phyllo dough (see recipe above)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.

2. Combine nuts, sugar and spices in a food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor chop with a sharp knife as fine as you can. Set aside

3. Trim your phyllo sheets to fit in your pan

4. Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet

5. Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade phyllo is thicker so it’s not needed)

6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

7. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times

8. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

9. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times

10. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

11. Continue layering and buttering phyllo 5 more times. On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of phyllo with no holes if possible, just looks better.

12. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance.

13. 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. A 9×9 pan cuts nicely into 30 pieces. Then brush with a generous layer of butter making sure to cover every area and edge

14. 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, take close watch yours may need more or less time in the oven)

15. 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 surfaces when pouring. Over night the syrup will soak into the baklava creating a beautifully sweet and wonderfully textured baklava

Next morning all syrup is absorbed

16. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled cover and store at room temperature. Allow the baklava to sit overnight to absorb the syrup.

17. Serve at room temperature

Gajar Ka Halwa (Carrot sweet)

gajarhalwa2

As a kid  I had always heard  “Gajar ka halwa” mentioned in Bollywood movies and I still remember the first  time I had a chance to savor this delectable dish..   For me it was love at first bite..  it still is one of my favourite desserts…

Gajar ka halwa is a very traditional Indian sweet. Grated carrots are boiled in milk in a low flame. When milk is almost dry, sugar is added and cooked again. Though the cooking procedure is very simple it  takes time. I heat the halwa in microwave after  adding sugar to save effort 🙂 …


Ingredients

Carrots – 500gmsMilk – 750 ml

Ghee – 2tbsp

Sugar – 200gm

Almonds – 15 to 20
Green Cardamom powder – 1 tspDirections1.   Peel, wash and grate carrot

2.   Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan . Add grated carrots cook on a medium flame for 8 to 10 minutes

3.   Add milk and green cardamom powder. Bring it to a boil and then reduce flame.

4.   Cook on a slow flame until milk is almost reduced.

5.   Add  sugar and cook until dry. Stir constantly.

(this stage can be done in a microwave also..  Heat in Medium High setting for 25 to 30 minutes… )

6.   Garnish with sliced almonds.

This halwa tastes best when served warm..

Sending this to AWED Indian Cuisine Event hosted by Umm Mymoonah of  Taste of Pearl City , started by DK of Chef In You

... and to Indian Mithai Mela at What’s Cooking by Kalyani