(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.)
This month was definitely a challenge. I’ve never made baklava before, and it certainly never occurred to me to roll out my own phyllo dough. Like so many of the challenges, it wasn’t so much "difficult" as it was "time-consuming".
Start with a basic dough of water, flour, salt, oil, and a bit of vinegar (to adjust the PH). I mixed it up in my stand mixer, then kneaded it (in the stand mixer!), then wrapped it in saran wrap for just over two hours to relax. It didn’t rise, because it has no leavening, but if the gluten doesn’t relax after kneading, it can be nearly impossible to roll out.
I was supposed to end up with 20 layers, but I miscounted somewhere and only ended up with 18. Even 18 was a lot of rolling – it took me close to an hour to do them all. I couldn’t take pictures while holding them up, but every layer came out nearly thin enough to read through. I use a silicone map with ruler markings, so I could be sure to get the size close to right.
One they were all rolled out, I trimmed them to fit my pan. I tossed the scraps in a bag in the fridge – I haven’t ruled out doing something with them. Then they got layered in the pan. Every sheet of dough gets brushed with butter before laying down the next one. I ended up with 4 sheets on the bottom two layers, and 5 on the top two.
In between each set of layers, I put a layer of nuts and spices. The recipe called for almonds, pistachios, and walnuts. But I had a big bag of pecans, and it is Texas, so I used the pecans. Because doesn’t everyone love Texas-Greek fusion?
The recipe also called for whole allspice, but my food processor destroyed the nuts before it even touched the allspice, so I picked out all the remaining berries and sprinkled in some ground allspice.
One it was assembled, it went in the oven for an hour, with a quick check at 30 minutes to make sure I’d sliced all the way through the layers. While it was baking, I made the sauce from honey, water, sugar, and a cinnamon stick.
The sauce smelled amazing. One they came out of the oven, I poured the sauce over the top, and let the pan sit in the fridge overnight. I have about half the sauce left – it would be amazing over vanilla ice cream!
Next time, I’d be tempted to add some flavoring to the dough. Phyllo is usually just structural, but if I’m going to make it from scratch, I’d like to try adding flavors to it. Maybe some sort of pocket pie, with spicy phyllo on the outside and ground meat inside?
All in all, a fun challenge! I look forward to next month!