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Friday, June 26, 2009

It's all Greek to me

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.)

Baklava, about to be devoured by my Dad (thanks Mum for your pretty plate for the photo)

(from Company's Coming: Baking - Simple to Sensational by Jean Paré)


Nut mix
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

Pastry goodies
16 frozen filo pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions
3/4 cup butter, melted

Orange syrup
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.

Baklava nut mix

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.

Baklava fresh out of the oven

Orange Syrup
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.

Hot bubbling syrupy goo

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.

All syruped up with nowhere to go

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.


Kevin June 28, 2009 at 1:51 AM  

That baklava looks really good!

NikiTheo June 28, 2009 at 11:32 PM  

I love baklava.... sooooo much.....

pixen July 1, 2009 at 2:59 AM  

You made it so easy and delicious! I was 'spoilt' by my Turkish and Greek friends with all their sweet goodies and never tried to make baklava myself.

Of course, occasionally I do missed eating it when I travelled. I guessed it's time to try it out. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

boroca July 1, 2009 at 5:48 PM  

I have never had baklava with the orange syrup... mmmm tempting.

orhan July 5, 2009 at 9:29 PM  

this is a Syrian (read as arabic) dessert originally. you can find the most delicious and famous ones in Turkey.

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge July 12, 2009 at 3:34 PM  

Oh man, I've wanted to bake baklava for ages. I have all the ingredients in my pantry, but just never gotten round to it. Your attempt has spurred me on to make my own at home!

Conor July 12, 2009 at 4:25 PM  

Kevin - thanks, happily I think it tasted as nice as it looks, which is always a bonus.

NikiTheo - it must be in your genes, surely. There is no use fighting the baklava calling..

Pixen - I think I need to make more Greek and Turkish friends. I'm actually living right near a Greek Orthodox Cathedral, perhaps I should hang out the front, looking hungry.

boroca - you can't stop at one piece... be warned.

orhan - I just looked up the history and it is pretty interesting. Seems there was even a "sort of proto-baklava found in a Chinese cookbook written in 1330 under the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty under the name güllach". Thanks for the info, I really need to visit Turkey!

Maria - Yes yes you must! I hope you don't have to chop all your nuts by hand, it took me forever. Happy baking and eating :D

Anonymous April 28, 2010 at 2:42 PM  

Okay ummm I now have an extreme craving for baklava...I NEED ONE NOW. Uh oh. Might hit up Broadway kebab shop...ooo yeah. Your's looks delicious by the way! I wish I had someone to make baklava for me, your sister is very lucky!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 28, 2010 at 3:19 PM  

heatherfeatherworld - Sorry, I know what it is like to have extreme baklava craving! I haven't had the stuff from the Broadway kebab place, but their Turkish bread and hummus are pretty good so I guess that's somehow a good sign? I'll pass on your comment to my sister ;)

Anonymous May 7, 2010 at 10:48 AM  

Hehe so it turned out they were out...but on the weekend I had a late-night drunken snack of not one, but TWO baklavas from a kebab shop in the city and it was very satisfying! Killed the craving...for now.

Conor @ HoldtheBeef May 7, 2010 at 11:03 AM  

Baklava is a way classier post-booze snack than a kebab. Two baklavas (aye carumba, well done) are therefore TWICE as classy. You are one classy lady.

Anonymous May 7, 2010 at 5:03 PM  

Heh, it may be classy, but far more fattening I expect. I am a pig. No more baklava-eating under the influence!

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