Monday, December 29, 2008

Boom bam it's Baklava Baby!

Well after eating me words and becoming a big fan of Alton Brown (always late to the party though I am) I decided to give a recipe of his a shot. Never being one to back down from a challenge, I decided to go with something that seemingly, a lot of folks say is difficult


Ok I admit that prior to this recipe, I'd only heard of baklava in the movie Alladin with the big blue genie does his first musical number .. sheltered live I have lived yes, hmmm?

So after watching Alton's show on this and hearing him say this didn't need to be a scary thing but that most people still avoided it, I took the challenge. Never being afraid to cook, I decided to make it, asked my lovely wife to buy the ingredients for us to work on it together, determined to blog about it later and finally flew into the kitchen with some notes from the show with intent to take pictures for the blog come hell or high water.

And here it is. Many thanks I have to give to my lovely wife for all her help on this. For while my drive to create is strong, my patience is not always so much and she balances me out, keeps me in line and has saved many a project by calming down my stressfulness. This was one of those times. Because not everything turns out like it does on TV :)

This didn't turn out exactly how I wanted it to so it will win no presentation awards but it. is. very. good! Basically after all our preparation we still had trouble with the filo sticking together. We think it's because we used organic filo so next time we'll just use the regular stuff and see if it behaves differently.

Baklava (ala Alton Brown)

Have your 1lb of filo in the freezer before beginning anything else. You should get it from the store and to your freezer, keeping it as frozen as possible along the way. Keep it there until you're ready to use it.

9x13 baking pan
Sharp knife
1 lb of Filo
2 sticks or 8 oz of clarified butter (for applying to filo and baking pan)

Nut/spice mix
6 oz of blanched almonds
6 oz of pistachios
6 oz of walnuts
2/3 of a cup of sugar
Cinnamon sticks (5 inches worth); use true cinnamon, the lighter colored stuff (Cinnamomum Zylanicum)
Allspice 15 pieces to grind up

To make the nut mixture .. grind up the cinnamon and allspice. Then mix in with the rest of the ingredients and pulse the blender till everything is well mixed together.

1/3 of a cup of clean water
1 tsp of rose water

1 1/4 cups of honey
1 1/4 cups of sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange peel

1 1/4 cups of water.

Prepared the nut/spice mix and spritz as outlined above. After that you should have at your station the following: the nut mixture, the clarified butter, the spritz, your pan, your knife and a clean place to work.

Remove filo from freezer and place directly into the microwave. Cook it on high for 60 seconds. This will thaw it enough to work with.

Now it's important to focus and work quickly. No interruptions here are a very good thing.

Layout all filo on your work area and set your pan on top of it. Trim around bottom of the pan with your sharp knife. This is to size the filo layers to your pan.

Butter your pan. Don't forget the corners.

Lay in your first sheet of filo into the bottom of the pan.

Drizzle butter onto the filo sheet. Then spread it out, working toward the edges to keep from catching an edge and rolling it up.

Do 9 more sheets just like this for a total of 10 sheets stacked on top of each other.

Take 1/3 of the nut mixture and spread evenly over the filo. Don't pack it down just spread it out gently with your fingertips.

Spritz it.

Do 6 more sheets buttering each filo sheet as before.

Then more nuts.

Spritz em.

Then 6 more sheets and don't forget that butter.

Then use the last 1/3 of nuts.

Spritz them.

Then use 8 more sheets of filo, buttering each.

This gives a total of 30 filo sheets.

Bake this in the oven for 30 mins at 350 degrees.Then cut into squares. Be careful, the top layer of filo will crack but thats alright, the syrup later will fix everything.After cutting, bake for 30 more mins at the same temperature.

Make the syrup while you wait for your last baking session to be over.

Mix all syrup ingredients together and bring to a boil. Maintain it for 10 mins. Then remove the bits and pieces from it. Using immediately is preferred but if you let it cool, just heat it back up again before applying to the baklava.

Back to the baking.

After the baklava has baked for it's last 30 mins, let it stand for 2 hours. Then retrace your cut lines.Add hot syrup to it, all of it. It will look like there is way too much syrup but the baklava will absorb it (well most of it).

Let it all set for 8 hours.



Jennifer said...

That looks so YUMMY! I think the presentation is PERFECT!

Okay sooo, you cook, you sew..... geez Im going to have to send Brian up to you guys to learn a few skills....LOL

Rob said...

The important thing to note is that I used the term 'Cinnamomum Zylanicum' not 'coolio' even once :) hahaha