Baklava is an absolute joy when made at home. It is such a beautiful layered dessert with alluring flavours and elegant indulgence. Baklava is a traditional treat, made with many layers of phyllo dough, which are separated with butter. All in all, it’s an exquisite dessert, all buttery and sweet with a wonderful crunchy texture. The most treasured part: it’s packed with walnuts.
Baklava can be made with spring roll sheets, which are available in the market. However, call it “cheat baklava” then, because you will never get that classic thin, sweet crunch. Therefore I recommend using phyllo dough for baklava. You can buy the phyllo sheet from your nearest food store or make it home. The reason for this is that spring roll sheets are five times thicker than the phyllo dough. And it’s really not that difficult to make it at home. If you have made roti (Indian bread) you can make these very easily. You will have to do justice to the recipe. So, let’s do it together and create a feast!
Making the phyllo dough from scratch
INDIAN BAKLAVA INGREDIENTS
For the phyllo dough:
200gm of plain flour
1/8th teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of water for kneading
1/2 tablespoon of cider vinegar
2 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1/4th cup of flour to prevent sticking while rolling
1/4th cup of cornstarch
For the honey sugar syrup:
150 ml of honey
120ml of sugar
150ml of water
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of ground clove
For the filling and assembling:
100gm of melted butter
200gm of walnuts
(Note: Choice of nuts is personal; options are pistachio, walnuts, almond or a mix of all)
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
1. For the dough: Firstly, add the flour, salt, vinegar, oil and water in a large bowl and knead. You can add a little bit water if the dough appears dry. You might have to knead it for about 10 minutes until it forms a beautiful smooth dough. Then, wrap in the cling and keep in the fridge for at least two hours.
2. After two hours, unwrap the dough and divide into small balls approximately same size (ping pong ball). Mix cornstarch and flour in another bowl and dust the surface, the rolling pin and your hand slightly, before you start rolling. Make sure you cover the rest of the dough balls with plastic while rolling out each one.
3. On your marks, get set, go. You will roll out each ball individually, (super thin). Dust more dry flour mix if required. Just enjoy this process, If you rip out a little here and there – don’t worry, as long as you have one or two perfect ones to put on the top for no one to notice.
4. Don’t forget to sprinkle the flour mix between each layer of the sheets while rolling and making a pile. Now this entire pile of rolled out sheets is given an additional gentle roll out with a rolling pin.
Done – the phyllo sheet are prepared and ready to be layered with walnuts and butter.
5. For the walnuts: Pulse the walnuts in the food processes until finely chopped. Mix the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in another bowl and set aside.
6. For the honey sugar syrup: First, combine all the ingredients in a medium size pan and heat on the medium flame. Don’t stir the mix once the sugar is dissolved. Boil for almost 5 minutes, or till thick syrup consistency. Optionally you can flavour the sugar syrup with cardamoms, cinnamon, orange or rose water.
Recommendation: Flavour this syrup with lemon, which cuts through the sweetness and gives the dessert a good flavour balance.
The mix will get more thick once cold. Keep in a bowl to cool completely.
7. For Layering: Preheat the oven at 180*C (360* F). Brush the bottom and sides of a baking tray with some melted butter. Lay and butter the sheets one by one into the prepared baking tray. After you have laid out five buttered sheets sprinkle half of the ground nuts over the top in a nice even thin layer.
Note: You don’t have to overdo the butter between the sheets while layering. Just gently brush the butter on here and there without covering every inch of the surface. Don’t press really hard or you’ll drag or tear the phyllo sheet.
8. Lay out the next five layers on this, again brushing each sheet with butter before adding the next. Then repeat with another layer of ground walnut mix. Lay the rest of the phyllo sheets neatly over the top and (being particularly generous with butter on the top layers).
9. Then, Cut the baklava into the desired shape and size using a sharp knife (diagonal diamond pattern is classic). Bake for 45 minutes, or until the baklava is golden brown.
Suggestions: Don’t cut huge pieces, as it is a very rich dessert. Keep in the fridge (all covered) for sometime before cutting, this helps in getting clean and sharp cuts.
10. When you remove the baklava from the oven, drizzle half the honey sugar syrup evenly all over the top. Allow it to sit and absorb for a minute, then drizzle on a little more until you think it’s thoroughly moistened. Allow the baklava to cool uncovered for several hours. Once cool and sticky and divine, carefully remove the pieces from the pan and serve with coffee (or give as gifts!).
The original article was published by Pooja Khanna on 2 Bliss of Baking.
© All photos via Pooja Khanna