I've made Baklava once in my life... well, helped, or actually assisted, and tasted. While teaching a Junior High foods class, I asked the kids to bring in loved family recipes. It was around Christmas time. One student brought in a recipe for Baklava, and we decided to give it a try. I'm wondering if we spread it out between two days, cause I can't imagine being able to pull this off in a 45 minute class time.
If my students could see me now... they'd get a good laugh. Because of my slacking to read the directions well, this week, we have botched Baklava. (Don't worry, I'll be sure to point out where I went wrong.)
Start with the sugar syrup. Here we have sugar, water, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, cloves and salt. Boil. Cool. Set aside.
The filling: Blanched, slivered almonds were supposed to be used. I didn't remember the "slivered" part of the almond, when I was at the store. And that store doesn't sell blanched, whole almonds. So, I bought raw, whole almonds with the intent of blanching them myself. I've done this before, but after peeling one or two almonds I gave it up, and decided that our Baklava would be just fine without blanching the almonds. Oh, I also skipped out on the walnuts, and just added extra almonds. (This was not the major "botch" in this recipe.)
Pulse the almonds (and walnuts if used), about 25 pulses. (I loved that the book gave a number of pulses. So precise.)
This recipe calls for clarified butter... that's butter that the milk solids and water have been removed, leaving behind the pure liquid butterfat. Mmm, that sounds good.
So we melt the butter, and then let it sit for a bit. Then skim off the foam from the surface. Then carefully pour the clear butterfat into a bowl, leaving all the milk solids behind in the saucepan.
Here's the phyllo dough. Lots of little sheets, paper thin. It's cool stuff.
Start layering phyllo sheets, brushing each with the clarified butter. I cut my sheets smaller, so they'd fit in my pan better.
Here's the botch: I combined my sugar syrup with my chopped up, un-blanched almonds. (Not part of the directions for the recipe.)
The almonds are then placed 1 cup at a time, on top of a layer of phyllo sheets. Then more phyllo sheets are added, more almonds, more phyllo, almonds, phyllo on top. The rest of the butter is poured on top, and spread around.
The rest of the butter is poured on top, and spread around.
The Baklava is then sliced with a serrated knife, one direction, diagonally.
And then the other direction.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
Now, if you had been in my kitchen at this point, you would have witnessed a slight freak-out. Part of it could have been due to it being about 10:30pm. Thus, my realization that I would be up till 12, waiting to remove the Baklava from the oven. But that was only a small part of the freaking... the other was this: remove the Baklava from the oven and "Immediately pour ... the cooled syrup over the cut lines ..." I flipped pages back and forth, trying to figure out what syrup they were referring to. Had I missed a step? Was I supposed to hold some syrup back when I added it to the almonds? Where there two syrups? Ahh, no. I just wasn't supposed to add the syrup TO the almonds. Ohhh. Well, there you have it. Botched Baklava.
Here it is. A bit more flaky, and slightly less flavorful, I think. Pretty though. It's got that going for it.
Go visit Talesha's blog for the complete recipe. I'm sure she probably got it right too, so hop over there for the real thing.