Ooh, I’m a devil-may-care flying fool! I decided to throw caution to the wind and make baklava last week despite my oven still being un-fixed and super dodgy. I figured there are surely enough Greek gods around to bring good fortune to my endeavours, and I am relieved to report that they were smiling down upon me this time. I’m sure it has something to do with my painstaking drawings of them in my impressive Greek Gods project I did in year six. I got an A+ and multiple stickers for that baby, if I remember correctly.
The reason behind this new Greek project was my fortnightly research group meeting, and the fact that I was driving up to Geraldton the following day and catching up with my baklava-loving sister. It’s also a recipe that I’ve been wanting to try for some time, just to see if I could pull it off. I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as good as the great baklavas I have eaten in my time (including the chocolate covered beauty I had in Melbourne) but I knew I could at least better the bad ones I’ve had (bad largely due to not being fresh, I suspect).
The fruits of my labour were decidedly un-bad! Quite good, in fact! I managed to save a few pieces to take up to Gero with me, and even my Dad enjoyed it (Me:”Do you want some baklava Dad?” Dad:”Do I want who?”). I’m very pleased to say my sister enjoyed her pieces, and although my brother-in-law said it’s not the best he’s eaten, he managed to polish off quite a few pieces to my sister’s dismay. Apparently the little end pieces don’t count as pieces, no matter how many you eat.
I was quite the food fairy this weekend actually, as I also was the bearer of Miami Bakehouse pies to my family. Nothing quite says ‘I love you’ like a Miami Bakehouse Seafood Platter or Garlic Prawn pie (except maybe freshly made baklava).
(Disclaimer: Please stop reading now if you have any heart or tight-jeans conditions.)
(from Company’s Coming: Baking – Simple to Sensational by Jean Paré)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pistachios, toasted
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans, toasted
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
16 frozen filo pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions
3/4 cup butter, melted
3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 small navel orange, cut into 1/4 inch (6 mm) slices (end slices discarded)
1. Combine first 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Work with filo sheets 1 sheet at a time. Keep remaining sheets covered with damp tea towel to prevent drying.
(Note: You’ll need to have a pan that is half the size of your filo pastry sheets. My pan was a little too small so I just trimmed the sheets a little so that they were double the size of my pan.)
3. Lay 1 pastry sheet on work surface. Brush with melted butter. Fold in half crosswise. Place in 9 x 13 inch (22 x 23 cm) pan (or whatever you have, providing it is twice the size of the pastry!). Brush with melted butter.
4. Repeat with 4 more pastry sheets and melted butter, finishing with melted butter.
5. Sprinkle 1/3 of nut mixture over top.
6. Repeat layering with another 3 folded sheets of pastry over nut mixture, brushing with melted butter after each layer.
7. Sprinkle with another 1/3 of nut mixture.
8. Repeat layering with another 3 sheets of pastry over nut mixture, brushing with melted butter after each layer.
9. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 of nut mixture.
10. Repeat layering with remaining (5) pastry sheets, brushing with remaining melted butter.
11. Score diamond pattern across pastry using a sharp knife. Insert knife down into pastry, almost, but not quite through, to bottom of pan.
12. Bake in 350 F (175 C) oven for about 40 minutes (prepare the orange syrup while it is baking) until deep golden brown and crisp. Keep hot.
13. Combine sugar, water and cardamom in medium saucepan. Add orange slices. Heat and stir on medium for about 2 minutes until sugar is dissolved.
14. Increase heat to medium-high. Brush side of saucepan with damp pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals. Boil for 12 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Discard orange slices. Makes 2 3/4 cups syrup.
15. Slowly pour hot syrup over hot pastry, allowing it to fill in spaces and score marks. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature overnight.
16. Cut through to bottom, following scored diamond pattern. Baklava can be covered with sheet of waxed paper and stored at room temperature for 3 to 4 days or wrapped and frozen for longer storage. Makes about 30 diamond shaped pieces (if using the recommended pan size).
1 piece: 251 calories; 12.9 g Total Fat (6.4 g Mono, 2 g Poly, 3.9 g Sat); 13 mg Cholesterol; 34 g Carbohydrate; 1 g Fibre; 2 g Protein; 100 mg Sodium.