Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Baklava (Nut Pastry)


Well, our foray into Greek food this month didn't start off so well.  The first three recipes we tried were a bust.

The first one was a fish dish called Cod Plaki. The poaching liquid completely overwhelmed the fish, plus it was too complicated to ever make again.  The second one was a Spiced Roast Lamb which Tom made and thought was only so-so.  And the third was my attempt to make Greek Easter Bread which completely bombed.

But luckily we found "a keeper" with this baklava recipe.

I was intrigued that it uses pistachios for the nuts and a rose water syrup instead of honey. Cardamon is the spice. The result is exotic and quite lovely.  Less messy to eat than the honey version, too.
Rose water is found in the spice aisle.

(from the Mediterranean cookbook by Hermes House)

for the pastry:
3 cups ground pistachios  (a little less than a pound)
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 T. ground cardamom
2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
18 sheets of phyllo pastry

for the syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups water
2 T. rose water

Defrost the phyllo dough overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature 1/2 hour before using.

Determine what size baking pan will work with the phyllo dough.  My sheets were 9x14 so I used a 9x13 pan which is a close as I could get.  I just let the extra inch of dough creep up the edges.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Grind the nuts.
In a bowl, combine the nuts, confectioners' sugar and cardamom.

Melt the butter.
Unroll the phyllo dough carefully, and cover it with a wet paper towel.
Using a pastry brush, brush butter on the bottom of the pan.  Add a layer of phyllo, then brush with butter, add another layer, brush with butter.  Do this for 6 total sheets of phyllo.
Use half of the nut mixture and distribute over the dough, pressing it down firmly with your hand or a spatula.

Add six more layers of phyllo, brushing each with melted butter, evenly and thoroughly, especially the edges.

Layer in the rest of the nut mixture, then press down firmly with your hand or a flat spatula.
Add the remaining 6 layers of phyllo, brushing with butter, each time, in between each sheet.  Pour any remaining butter over the top, i.e., use it all.
Now, find a very sharp thin knife and cut through the pastry on a diagonal.  I made 8 cuts.  Then cut across the pastry to make horizontal cuts.  You will end up with diamond shapes.

Place the pastry in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
Then, turn up the heat to 400 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes or until well browned.
Meanwhile (or in advance) make the syrup.  In a heavy saucepan with steep walls, melt the sugar and water and let it simmer for 10 minutes until syrupy.  Remember that sugar and water get very hot.  Stir carefully.
Take it off the heat.  Stir in the rose water.  And let cool.
When the pastry is done, remove it from the oven.
Then, drizzle 2/3 of the syrup over the top and let it soak in the crevices.  You will need to make 2 or 3 passes over the top.  Reserve the remaining 1/3 to serve with pastry.

When it is cool, use a firm, i.e., rigid, spatula to lift the baklava out of the pan.  Serve with the remaining syrup.

Decadent and delicious!


No comments:

Post a Comment