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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Baklava


Baklava  is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of Phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia.

The history of baklava is not well-documented. It has been claimed by many ethnic groups, but there is strong evidence that it is of Central Asian Turkic origin, with its current form being developed in the imperial kitchens of the Topkapı Palace. The word baklava is first attested in English in 1653 and entered English from Turkish. The name baklava is used in many languages with minor phonetic and spelling variations. The Greek seamen and merchants traveling east to Mesopotamia soon discovered the delights of Baklava.
 It mesmerized their taste buds. They brought the recipe to Athens. The Greeks' major contribution to the development of this pastry is the creation of a dough technique that made it possible to roll it as thin as a leaf, compared to the rough, bread-like texture of the Assyrian dough. In fact, the name "Phyllo" was coined by Greeks, which means "leaf" in the Greek language. In a relatively short time, in every kitchen of wealthy households in the region, trays of baklava were being baked for all kinds of special occasions from the 3rd Century B.C. onwards.
 Armenians, as their Kingdom was located on ancient Spice and Silk Routes, integrated for the first time the cinnamon and cloves into the texture of baklava.The ultimate origin of the name is unclear. Buell argues that the word "baklava" may come from the Mongolian root baγla- 'to tie, wrap up, pile up' composed with the Turkic verbal ending -v; baγla- itself in Mongolian is a Turkic loanword.
Though the suffix -vā might suggest a Persian origin, the baqla- part does not appear be Persian. The Arabic name is doubtless a borrowing from Turkish, though a folk etymology, unsupported by Wehr's dictionary, connects it to Arabic بقلة /baqlah/ 'bean'.
Every Christmas I bake this yummy Greek dessert to share with my husband's co-workers. I love Baklava, but the store bought is too sweet and usually drenched with honey syrup and messy to eat. Also it has filling of walnuts only, which is not bad, but I decided to do my own variation with the recipe, so it is not as sweet and not messy to eat at the same time.
Instead of squares I decided to make individual rolls. I also added few other nuts to the recipe which is not traditional, (only walnuts are fine too but I am proud of my recipe).

I had originally posted this recipe on the blog in Aug 8th 2010, when I had just started blogging, but I did not have any pictures then, because I usually only make this during Christmas time (Once a year when you can justify consuming all the calories from butter). Now that it is Christmas and kids are home, I made Baklava this weekend to take it to my work and my husband's work and of curse for the kids too.

I decided to re-publish the recipe on this blog with my photographs, so this can be now visible on Foodblogs.com and also on my fb fan page and other social networks. (as you know the older posts don't quite make it there)

The following recipe yields about 44 rolls of Baklava. Take about 55-60 min to make.

Ingredient for syrup:

½ cup sugar

½ cup honey

½ cup water

2” cinnamon stick

1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice

 
Ingredients for filling:


2 cups chopped walnuts

2 cups chopped almonds

1 cup chopped pistachios

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup honey

2 table spoon cinnamon powder

1 table spoon lemon or orange peel/grind

1/2  cup of orange marmalade

¼ teaspoon cloves powder

Ingredients for rolls:

1 pack of Phyllo leaves

2 sticks melted butter for brushing (1 cup)

½ cup of powdered pistachio nuts or sliced almonds for garnish
























 



Method:

• Preheat oven to 360 F.
• Boil the syrup ingredients together for 5-10 min on med to slow heat.
* When ready keep it aside.
• Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl.
• I like to make individual rolls of Baklavas vs. the layers of sheets, as these are crispier vs the sheets which become soggy when you pour syrup on them.


• In Phyllo leaves pack there are usually two packs of 18-22 sheets each. From one pack you can make 36-44 pieces.
• Thaw the pack of leaves overnight in fridge.
• Open the Phyllo leaves when everything is ready.
* Open one of the packs and cut in half.
* Cover the other hald with parchment paper included in the pack.
• These are very thin and delicate leaves, you have to work very quickly, but very slowly so they don’t dry up and don’t break.
• Use one sheet to make a roll by brushing butter on it first, place 1 tbl spoon of filling at the end, fold from both side and make a roll.

• Brush butter on each roll and place them on to baking sheet. You can place the rolls next to each other.
• When baking sheet is full, bake the rolls at 360 degrees F for 30-35 min until golden brown.
• Take them out of oven and pour syrup on them when warm.
• When cool, carefully take them out of baking sheet and place them on paper baking cups and garnish with powdered pistachios and or sliced almonds.















 









  • Can store them in airtight container, separating each layer with wax paper and can freeze them too.




Merry Christmas and Good luck !! Please feel free to ask me any question using comment section on my blog or my fb fan page, I will be happy to help.
Recipe modified by Surekha from a recipe in a small booklet in a box of Phyllo Leaves.
Photographs by Surekha.
Description of Baklava sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baklava
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_Creative_Commons_Attribution-ShareAlike_3.0_Unported_License
http://www.kitchenproject.com/history/Baklava.htm

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