Traditional Baklawa recipe
Including hidden tricks with simple direction to follow
1 pound of phyllo pastry sheets
4 cups of mixed whole nuts (I use walnuts, almonds and cashews and pick over them, from any broken shells, then chop them in a food processor, keeping some coarser than others)
1 cup - 2 cups clarified butter (on a very low heat warm the butter and start skimming the top to end up with a nice clear pure butter 1 pound of unsalted butter makes one cup of clarified butter.Don’t scrap the bottom)
1/4 cup of sugar
2 tbsp each rose water and orange blossom
1/3 cup of finely chopped pistachios for decoration (optional)
syrup = 3 cups of sugar, 1 3/4 cup water,1/2 of fresh lemon squeezed, 1/4 cup of rose water + orange blossom water.
Boil the syrup, when it starts to thicken add the lemon juice and stir, continue cooking for couple more minutes. Take it off the heat and add the flavored water and stir.
Leave it to cool completely before you pour it over the Baklawa.
The night before defrost the phyllo pastry in the fridge. Leave it on the counter two hours before you start your baklawa. Open the box and lay the sheets on a tray, cover with a plastic wrap then cover with a damp towel to keep them humid and don't dry during your preparation work, especially if this is your first attempt and you are not fast to work with phyllo dough.
The sheets come in a 15 x 17 or even 17.5” box. If you don't have the right size of tray to use don't worry instead of folding the sizes to make it fit, use a 9 x 13in tray and cut the sheets in half follow the folding line as your guide, using a sharp knife, cut in half. You will end up with 38 -40 sheets of phyllo pastry depends on the package. Mix the nuts, sugar and the flavoured waters well. If clarified butter is prepared in advanced, warm it in the microwave to melt for brushing. (It’s okay to use unsalted butter, melt in the micro, and make sure not to use the milk solid left in the bottom) Brush the bottom and sides of the tray with enough clarified butter, and start layering the sheets, brush each sheet with a light brush of clarified butter specially the corners as they get drier, (some sheets comes with a bit of corn starch sprinkled on top to keep them separated – use a different brush to clean the sheets, avoid using the same brush, because you will thicken the butter with corn starch, and it will be very hard to use) you can build 10 sheets of phyllo then cover with one cup of mixed nuts, or build 12 layers of sheets and stuff with one cup and then start building, there is no rule, its up to you, you can even divide the sheets in half and add all the stuffing over one half then top with the remain sheets, or you can build 12, 10,10,8. It’s your choice and how patient are you to build and create your master piece.
I can guarantee that it will taste great... just go for it. brush the last sheet of phyllo with a generous amount of butter, and let it rest for 5 minutes, then using the same brush, run it under water let it drip the excess water, and brush the top of the sheet, this is a trick I learned from a chef in Lebanon, the top will not crack and dry, and the butter will not turn very dark.
Warm the oven at 250F, when ready, cut your baklawa using a sharp knife,(when you rest it for 10 minutes it will be easier to cut) you can either cut it squares or diagonals again its up to you.
Bake the baklawa in the center of the oven for 60-90 minutes, until its light golden brown and all the sheets are toasted. Sometimes if I have time I even leave it in the oven after I shut it off to cool completely, then pour 2 cups of the prepared cooled syrup, and wait until it soaks down. If you like it sweet and dripping with syrup, or you like the Lebanese Style which is not overly sweet and can be eaten by hand without a mess.
Let the baklawa rest at least 8 hours before you cut it, its better to leave it till the next day. Don’t sprinkle the pistachios right away; they will slide with the syrup wait till the next day to decorate the tray, or even when you serve it sprinkle on top.
Sahtein – Bon Appetite.
Please try it and let me know if my information were helpful.
Selling and Preparing Baklawa
what I am going to say about preparing the Baklawa will be shocking and bitter to some and very helpful to others!!!
sharing my opinion about preparing and using the right ingredients for baklawa;
Before you buy Baklawa from a store , buy one piece and taste what you are paying for....
some ,and for profit reason ,are offering low prices on their products. You have to be careful , try to ask , what is inside the pastry, and what kind of stuffing do you use, what kind of butter? can we check it???
I heard some places instead of adding pure nuts in their pastries they mix half the stuffing with bread crumbs, or roasted unsalted peanuts, where the ingredients should be pure nuts, either one kind of a mix of two or more. Depending on the price and the market(the traditional flavours are walnuts & almonds and some with cashews and pistachios)
Also I heard that some are using vegetable oil instead of pure unsalted butter, we all know the price of good quality butter in comparison to oil products in the markets. Be careful...
there is no comparison in flavour,smell and texture between the Baklawa prepared with clarified butter and a baklawa prepared with cheap oil. (1 pound of butter when clarified will make 1/2 pound)
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