Baklava sweet treat to make at home

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FOOD - Mar­garet Prouse

Baklava is a flaky, nutty, sweet dessert from the Mid­dle East. I first en­coun­tered it in Le­banese restau­rants and now know that it has been a long-time favourite in coun­tries that neigh­bour Le­banon.

Some sources say that it — or its pre­de­ces­sor — orig­i­nated in Assyria in about the eighth cen­tury BCE. Its place in the cul­ture of Tur­key shows up in ac­counts such as this one that I read in Jac­ques L. Rol­land’s “The Cook’s Es­sen­tial Kitchen Dictionary”. Rol­land de­scribes the Baklava Pro­ces­sions, which be­gan in the late 17th or early 18th cen­tury. On the 15th day of Ra­madan (the ninth month of the Lu­nar cal­en­dar) each year, the elite Janis­sary troops in Is­tan­bul marched in full re­galia to the Top­kapi palace, where each reg­i­ment re­ceived two trays of baklava as a gift from the Sul­tan. The baklava was then hung in sheets of cloth from a pole and pa­raded back to the troops’ quar­ters.

Baklava con­sists of lay­ers of finely chopped nuts, en­veloped in crisp phyllo pas­try and soaked in sweet syrup. The nut fill­ing can be made from wal­nuts, al­monds or pis­ta­chios, ei­ther by them­selves or en­riched with other in­gre­di­ents, and the syrup is lemon-spiked honey or sugar wa­ter.

Var­i­ous types of Mid­dle East­ern pas­tries are iden­ti­fied by their char­ac­ter­is­tic shapes, and baklava is usu­ally cut into di­a­monds or tri­an­gles. The pre­pared dish is cut into di­a­monds be­fore it’s cooked and sep­a­rated into pieces af­ter bak­ing. Note that the recipe that fol­lows is not cut into the tra­di­tional shapes, but shaped into a cir­cu­lar coil that is cut into nar­row wedges.

I was a lit­tle ner­vous when making baklava for the first time over the hol­i­days. Sur­pris­ingly, I found it eas­ier than making pies; this may re­flect my poor piemak­ing skills and won’t be true for ev­ery­one.

Use frozen phyllo pas­try — avail­able at larger gro­cery stores — to make this dish and cover sheets with a damp towel af­ter open­ing the pack­age. The sheets of pas­try are thin and break eas­ily if al­lowed to dry out, but they are no trou­ble to work with if you kept them damp.

I had some of the nut fill­ing left af­ter fill­ing the spring­form pan as di­rected and used it and some of the re­main­ing sheets of phyllo to make di­a­mond-shaped baklava in a rec­tan­gu­lar bak­ing dish.

Honey Nut Baklava Roll

Adapted from The Cana­dian Liv­ing Test Kitchen: “The In­ter­na­tional Col­lec­tion: Home-Cooked Meals From Around the World”. Transcon­ti­nen­tal Books, Mon­treal, 2011. 175 mL (¾ cup) but­ter 10 sheets phyllo pas­try

Fill­ing: 375 mL (1½ cups) chopped wal­nut halves 150 mL ( cup) sliv­ered dried apri­cots 75 mL ( cup) chopped al­monds 75 mL ( cup) chopped pis­ta­chios 50 mL (¼ cup) fresh bread crumbs, toasted 25 mL (2 tbsp) gran­u­lated sugar 5 mL (1 tsp) cin­na­mon pinch ground cloves

Syrup 150 mL ( cup) gran­u­lated sugar 125 mL (½ cup) liq­uid honey 1 strip zest 1 cin­na­mon stick 15 mL (1 tbsp) lemon juice

Fill­ing: Stir to­gether wal­nuts, apri­cots, al­monds, pis­ta­chios, bread crumbs, sugar, cin­na­mon and cloves; set aside.

Syrup: In saucepan, bring 250 mL (1 cup) wa­ter, sugar, honey, lemon zest and cin­na­mon to boil, stir­ring. Re­duce heat and boil gen­tly un­til syrupy, about 12 min­utes. Stir in lemon juice; sim­mer for 1 minute. Let cool. In small saucepan, melt but­ter over low heat. Skim off foam; pour clear melted but­ter into bowl, leav­ing milky liq­uid in pan. Place 1 sheet of the phyllo on work sur­face, cov­er­ing re­main­der with damp towel to pre­vent dry­ing out. Brush sheet with but­ter. Top with sec­ond sheet; brush with but­ter. Spread gen­er­ous 125 mL (½ cup) of the fill­ing along 1 long edge; roll up and fit around edge of greased 2.5 L (9 inch) spring­form pan. Re­peat with re­main­ing pas­try, but­ter and fill­ing un­til pan is full, coil­ing rolls around edge of pan, then in spi­ral to­ward cen­tre, and press­ing firmly to form compact rounds. Brush with but­ter. Place on 30 cm (12 inch) pizza pan. Bake in a 180 C (350 F) oven un­til phyllo is golden and crisp, about 40 min­utes. Re­move from oven; pour syrup over coil. Let cool on pan on rack, pour­ing any syrup that leaks onto pan over coil. (Make-ahead: cover and store at room tem­per­a­ture for up to 24 hours.) Makes 16 serv­ings. Mar­garet Prouse, a home econ­o­mist, can be reached by writ­ing her at RR#2, North Wilt­shire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at mar­garet@is­land­gusto.com.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.