Baklava

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I am so exciting to be blogging right now!  For Christmas, my sweet husband bought me a laptop!  I have been dreaming for years about being able to blog from my couch or kitchen table or even my bed instead of in our chilly office where our family PC currently sits.  I knew exactly what recipe I wanted to bring you first because I have been so anxious to share this recipe with you!  Prior to making Baklava myself, I always assumed that it would be extremely difficult and time-consuming to make.  I was so wrong!  I have made this recipe 2 or 3 times now and anyone who tastes it raves about it and can’t believe that I actually made it myself. It is such a beautiful, delicate treat and it really is not difficult! The hard part is already done for you (the phyllo dough). You just have to slap it in a pan with some butter, nuts, and cinnamon, pour a homemade syrup over the top and voila’! – crispy, chewy, sweet, nutty homemade Baklava.  Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

1 (16oz) package phyllo dough (also spelled fillo, filo or phylo)

1 lb chopped nuts

1 cup butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

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First, you are going to want to visit your local grocery store freezer section and pick up some Phyllo (sometimes spelled Filo or Fillo) Dough.  It should be in a long rectangular box somewhere near the Cool Whip.  Defrost the dough according to the package directions (in the fridge or on the counter).  It shouldn’t  take too long to defrost.  A pastry brush will also be a necessity for this recipe.

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Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.  Once defrosted, open the box and unroll the dough onto your counter or onto a cutting board.  The dough will be approximately twice as wide as you will need it to be, so you will want to use a sharp knife and cut the length of the rectangle in half, leaving you with two piles of dough that will fit perfectly into your 9×13 pan.  Keep the dough covered with a damp cloth throughout the assembly process so it doesn’t dry out.

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Next melt butter in a bowl.  Make sure you are using real butter, not margarine.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan using your pastry brush.

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Place 2 sheets of phyllo dough down onto the buttered pan.  Butter the entire top sheet.  Place another 2 sheets of dough on top of the already buttered sheets.  Brush butter on top sheet.  Repeat this step until you have at least 8 sheets (4 layers of 2).

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Now you will want to place a mixture of nuts (I used pecans and almonds. Some other good choices are pistachios or walnuts.  Just don’t use peanuts!) into a food processor (if you don’t have one, hand chopping will work, it will just require that you chop them very finely).

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Stir in cinnamon.

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Sprinkle a light coating of nuts onto the top buttered layer of dough (approximately 1/4 cup)

Place another 2 sheets of dough over nuts and brush with butter.  Sprinkle with another layer of nuts. Repeat dough, butter, nuts for several more layers until you reach the desired thickness.  (Please keep in mind that you will need to save 6-8 sheets for the top layers that don’t contain nuts.  I also had approximately 8-10 sheets of dough left over that I cut in half again and used an 8×8 pan to make another small batch. Feel free to make it as thick as you want it).

Now layer 2 more sheets of dough then brush with butter 3-4 more times to make your top flaky layer.  Brush the top layer with butter.

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Using a sharp knife, cut all the way through the Baklava cutting it into triangles.  You can see I cut 4 long rows then cut diagonally and then diagonally again across to make smaller triangles.

Bake at 350 degrees 50 minutes until Baklava is golden and crisp.

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While the Baklava is baking, make your sauce/syrup.  Boil water and sugar until dissolved then add honey.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla.

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Remove Baklava from the oven and immediately pour syrup over the top.  If you let it cool completely before removing from the pan, it will really stick.  So, when it is still a little warm and pliable, remove each triangle and place in a cupcake liner or parchment paper square.

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These make really great teacher gifts, or party hors d’oeuvres – IF you decide after eating one that you even want to share them.

I found this gem of a recipe on allrecipes.com by NEONWILLIE.

 

 

Baklava

  • Servings: 28-30
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

1 (16 oz) package Phyllo Dough

1 cup butter

1 lb chopped nuts

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Thaw phyllo dough.  Remove from box and unroll.  Cut in half so that sheets will fit in a 9×13 pan.  Cover with a damp cloth during preparation so it won’t dry out
  2. Melt Butter.  Using a pastry brush, butter bottom and sides of  9×13 pan.  Place two sheets of dough flat into buttered pan.  Brush top sheet thoroughly with butter.  Now layer another 2 sheets and again brush with butter.  Do this until you have 8 sheets layered in the pan.
  3. Chop nuts finely in a food processor (or by hand).  Stir in cinnamon.  Sprinkle a layer of nuts onto top sheet of phyllo dough (approx. 1/4 cup).  4.  Top with 2 more sheets of dough, butter then sprinkle with nuts.  Repeat these steps several more times until you reach the desired thickness.
  4. Top with 2 sheets of dough.  Butter top then repeat this (with no nuts) 3 times until you have 6 sheets (3 layers) of dough on top.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut 4 long strips, then cut diagonally in both directions to make triangles.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. While Baklava is baking, make your sauce.  Boil 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar until dissolved.  Add honey.  Simmer for 20 min.  Add vanilla.
  7. When baklava is done baking, remove from oven and pour sauce over the top.  Let cool almost completely then remove pieces with a stiff metal spatula while still slightly warm.   Place each individual piece into a cupcake wrapper or parchment square. Do not cover. You don’t want any moisture to build because it will change the flaky texture.  Enjoy!

 

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Beer Bread – Super Fast, Easy and DELISH!

My dear friend Amber introduced me to beer bread a few years back and it has since become my very favorite kind of bread.  It is so super easy.  Literally, your bread will be ready for the oven before your oven has even finished preheating.  This bread accompanies chilli, soups, salads, really anything because it is so versitile.  Let’s get started…

Ingredients:

3 cups self-rising flour (or 3 cups all-purpose flour, 3 tsp baking powder and 1 and 1/2 tsp salt). 

I know very few people who keep self-rising flour on hand.  Do not run out to buy some because you can very easily make it yourself.  For every cup of flour in a recipe, add one teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Voila…That’s it!

1/3 c. sugar

1 – 12oz can or bottle of  beer.  I have tried several kinds of beer and it seems like the regular, light beers produce the best flavor (for my liking).  I do not like the taste of beer, especially microbrews so if that’s your thing, you may enjoy adding a fancier beer.  If you do add a microbrew, your bread will have that bitter flavor that the beer possesses.

Directions:

Whisk all dry ingredients together. 

Add beer.  It will be really foamy. Mix with a rubber spatula or a whisk.  Do not overmix or it will become tough. Once the beer is mixed in evenly, stop.  You want it to be a little lumpy.

Pour batter into greased bread pan. 

 

I think, hands down, that the old thin aluminum pans are  far superior to any non-stick fancy schmancy bread pan or cookie sheet. You can often find them at yard sales for $.10 each.  They produce such a nice, evenly browned crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Spread a layer of butter or margarine (you decide how thick) over the top.  You can also melt it and spread it with a pastry brush if you have one. 

Place back in over for an additional 10 minutes.

Pull out of oven and transfer to a cooling rack.  This bread is best served warm but is still excellent leftover if you store it in a Ziploc and zap it in the microwave for a few seconds before smothering in butter. I prefer my bread topped with honey butter.

Variations:

For a savory bread, decrease sugar to 3 Tbsp and add cheese and garlic, garlic salt or roasted garlic cloves to batter.  You could add jalapeno and cheddar cheese to the batter or italian herbs and parmesan.

For a sweeter bread, alternate spoonfuls of batter into pan with cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Top with cinnamon and sugar before baking.