Monday, June 27, 2011

Daring Bakers Challenge- Baklava with Home Made Phyllo

 Baklava made with home made phyllo….great challenge!

 Erica of Erica's Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker's June Challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly Daring by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.
 I was very excited to have my first bakers challenge! I have been anticipating this challenge since I first joined Daring Bakers. I had to miss last months venture due to my vacation. They reveal the challenge on the first of the month. I kept checking the site to make sure I wouldn't miss it. The day finally came for the reveal and, I couldn't wait to see what we would be making.  As I clicked to the forum that had this information I was a bit nervous…how difficult would this be? Will I be able to live up to these Daring Bakers? And then I saw it…Baklava! Really?  I have been making baklava for about 30 years! This will be a cinch! Then I realized, as I read further, we were making the phyllo…not such a cinch but bring it on! 
I am of Lebanese heritage and grew up with baklava. However,  I have never seen anyone make their own phyllo. My cousin told me even her grandmother bought the pastry. I don't remember what my grandmother did. This was going to be a Challenge! 

The making of the dough is easy. Put all the ingredients into the bowl of your mixer and beat on medium till it holds together.

Switch to dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes. 
Remove from mixer bowl and continue to knead for  2  more minutes.

Form into ball and lightly coat with oil…wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for about 2 hours.

My first attempt at rolling out the dough…ugh! This was not easy and was very time consuming and frustrating!

But with perseverance….It was coming together. One tip I want to give…Separate each sheet with wax paper…my dough started to stick together after it sat for a while…and that was quite upsetting after I rolled  dough all day long. I sprinkled  them with flour but, evidently not enough!

Layering the baklava…this is my middle layer.

This is my last layer, first sheet…you can see how thin this dough is…note the nuts!

Finished with the layering and ready to cut.

Cut into diamonds and ready for the oven.

My nuts were a mixture of pecans, almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios. I didn't have any walnuts in the house so I decided to go with what I had. My flavorings were orange blossom water, cinnamon and nutmeg. These are the flavorings I always use.

My syrup is made with 3 cups sugar and 2 cups water. I add slices of orange and lemon and a cinnamon stick to the pot and bring to a boil…simmer for about 10 minutes. When done, I strain the syrup and add a teaspoon of orange blossom water and a teaspoon of  lemon juice.

Right out of the oven I pour cold syrup over the hot baklava.

My beautiful Baklava…I have always wanted to try and make phyllo. Thank you, Erica for the challenge! It was fun and frustrating! I truly enjoyed this challenge even though I might never make it again. This was very time consuming and  I don't think the results were any better then the store bought! 

The Recipe and directions:

Preparation time: The recipe may seem simple but it is a little time consuming
Phyllo Dough Mixing/Kneading: 15-25 minutes
Resting time: 30-90 minutes (longer is better)
Rolling Phyllo: varies, approx. 2 minutes per sheet
Syrup: 15 minutes plus cooling
Baklava: 30 minutes
Resting: Overnight
Equipment required:
Measuring spoons
Wooden dowel or rolling pin
Sharp knife
Measuring cups
Stand mixer (can knead by hand)
Baking dishes – 9” x 9” is recommended
Plastic wrap
Medium pot
Pastry brush
Food processor /blender

Phyllo Dough:

*Note 1: To have enough to fill my 9” x 9” baking dish with 18 layers of phyllo I doubled this recipe.
*Note 2: Single recipe will fill a 8” x 5” baking dish.
*Note 3: Dough can be made a head of time and froze. Just remove from freezer and allow to thaw
and continue making your baklava
1 1/3 cups (320 ml) (185 gm/6½ oz) unbleached all purpose (plain) flour
1/8 teaspoon (2/3 ml) (¾ gm) salt
1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) cider vinegar, (could substitute white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, but could affect the taste)


1. In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt

2. Mix with paddle attachment
3. Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl.
4. Add water & oil mixture with mixer on low speed, mix until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water
5. Change to the dough hook and let knead approximately 10 minutes. You will end up with beautiful smooth dough. If you are kneading by hand, knead approx. 20 minutes

6.Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead for 2 more minutes. Pick up the dough and through it down hard on the counter a few times during the kneading process.
7. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil
8. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30-90 minutes, longer is best( I let mine rest 2 hours and it was perfect)
Rolling your Phyllo

** Remove all rings and jewelry so it does not snag the dough**
Use whatever means you have to get the dough as thin as you can.A wooden dowel, use a pasta machine if you have one, or a normal rolling pin whatever works for you.
1. Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger then a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.
 2.Be sure to flour your hands, rolling pin and counter. As you roll you will need to keep adding, don’t worry, you can’t over-flour.
3. Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out
4. Rotate and repeat until it is as thin as you can it. Don’t worry if you get rips in the dough, as long as you have one perfect one for the top you will never notice.
5. When you get it as thin as you can with the rolling pin, carefully pick it up with well floured hands and stretch it on the backs of your hands as you would a pizza dough, just helps make it that much thinner. Roll out your dough until it is transparent.
NOTE: you will not get it as thin as the frozen phyllo dough you purchase at the store, it is made by machine
 Set aside on a well-floured surface. Repeat the process until your dough is used up. Between each sheet again flower well. You will not need to cover your dough with a wet cloth, as you do with boxed dough, it is moist enough that it will not try out.
Adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network
30 servings
For the syrup:
· 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) honey
· 1 1/4 cups (300ml) water
· 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) sugar
· 1 cinnamon stick
· 1 (2-inch/50 mm) piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best)
· a few cloves or a pinch or ground clove
When you put your baklava in the oven start making your syrup. When you combine the two, one of them needs to be hot, I find it better when the baklava is hot and the syrup has cooled
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved
 Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally.
Once boiled for 10 minutes remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks

Ingredients for the Filling: 

1 (5-inch/125 mm piece) cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (8 gm) ground cinnamon

15 to 20 whole allspice berries
3/4 cup (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) blanched almonds
3/4 cup (180 ml) (155 gm/5½ oz) raw or roasted walnuts
3/4 cup (180 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) raw or roasted pistachios
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm/ 5 1/3 oz) sugar
phyllo dough (see recipe above)
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225g/8 oz) melted butter

1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.

2. Combine nuts, sugar and spices in a food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor chop with a sharp knife as fine as you can. Set aside

3.Trim your phyllo sheets to fit in your pan

4.Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet

5.Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade phyllo is thicker so it’s not needed)

6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

7. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times

8. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

9. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times

10. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top

11. Continue layering and buttering phyllo 5 more times. On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of phyllo with no holes if possible, just looks better.

12. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance.

13.With a Sharp knife cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces. If you can’t cut all the ways through don’t worry you will cut again later. A 9×9 pan cuts nicely into 30 pieces. Then brush with a generous layer of butter making sure to cover every area and edge

14.Bake for approximately 30 minutes; remove from oven and cut again this time all the way through. Continue baking for another 30 minutes. (Oven temperatures will vary, you are looking for the top to be a golden brown, take close watch yours may need more or less time in the oven)
15. When baklava is cooked remove from oven and pour the cooled (will still be warmish) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to cover all surfaces when pouring. It looks like it is a lot but over night the syrup will soak into the baklava creating a beautifully sweet and wonderfully textured baklava!
16. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled cover and store at room temperature. Allow the baklava to sit overnight to absorb the syrup.

17. Serve at room temperature

This is a wonderful video on how to roll the phyllo!


  1. Your homemade baklava is truly impressive. Great job!

  2. Wow, Kathy! An impressive challenge indeed! And you did a fabulous job! I've always wanted to make Baklava, but never dreamed of making home-made Phyllo dough. These look absolutely perfect!

  3. Nice on using orange blossom water...

  4. Its really impressive that you made your own phyllo. I really feel like having a few baklava now. I like this "A BALANCED DIET IS A COOKIE IN EACH HAND":)

  5. that is a great looking baklava! Your sheets look huge when rolled out, and I love the addition of nutmeg--I'll have to try that next time.

  6. so beautiful and amaizing baklawa ! Congratulations! !thank you for your visit and your nice comment!

  7. Awesome challenge! I love baklava. You did a great job on the phyllo.

  8. Your baklava looks perfect and flaky! Great idea to use wax paper between the rolled-out layers, I'll definitely try that next time. :-)

  9. Wow, your baklava looks awesome!

  10. I am so, so impressed Kathy! I passed on this challenge, since my family does not eat nuts. I love baklava and have been making my with orange flower water since I was in my 20's...but need a crowd to serve it to :) Brava, my friend!

  11. Great job! Your baklava looks fantastic! That's awesome that you have been making it for 30 years, but had never made your own phyllo. It's great when you can add a bit of a challenge to something you already know!

  12. This is so awesome, I've had your baklava and it's the best I've ever had, so it's amazing to me that you even tried making your own dough!!! Good job! yuuuummmmmm!

  13. congrats on your first challenge! it look amazing :)

  14. Kathy, this is just an amazing job you've done producing your baklava. I've never made it or even thought about making my own phyllo dough, it looks so challenging but I sure do like to eat it, yum to those nuts and the honey. Your recipe with the spices and citrus looks to be a real winner. Now I'm craving baklava, I'm so weak when it comes to sweets;-)

  15. Wonderful success - good on you and a lovely blog
    Cheers from New Zealand

  16. Wow! Homemade phyllo dough seems like a MAJOR challenge. I'm so impressed that you could tackle that for your first Daring Bakers challenge. July will be my first month joining in (I was just approved), and I, too, am nervously awaiting what the recipe for the month will be!

  17. Welcome to Daring Bakers! Your baklava looks delicious. Nice job on the challenge!

  18. To make your own filo is certainly a challenge. I remember my mom stretching dough for strudel since packaged filo dough was not widely available back then.

  19. Such an enjoyable post! How wonderful that the baking challenge gave you the opportunity to make your first homemade phyllo dough. Your baklava looks perfect! I am sure it tasted even better than usual with your own dough!