When I first met Mr. Kitchen Hand, I had some doubts over the longevity of our relationship. A lot of it had to do with food. I love seafood, he won’t eat oysters, mussels, squid or octopus. I love congee, bak kut teh and slippery rice noodles in eggy sauces. He squirms at the thought of all that “sloppy Chinese food”. I am a sugar addict, he doesn’t have that much of a sweet tooth.
Then one day, on a short trip to Australia to visit his parents, he very excitedly introduced me to sticky baklava, and I knew all would be well.
To say he loves baklava would be something of an understatement. So he was obviously very excited when I told him about our Daring Bakers challenge.
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.
Little did I know that rolling phyllo pastry sheets is an excellent way to work out the triceps! I didn’t even realise my muscles were being worked until the next day when I woke up with aching arms.
I tried taking a photo to show how thin the dough was, but it's pretty tricky carrying dough around and photographing with one hand.
Apart from the exercise, the challenge recipe was very easy to follow, and the dough was quite robust too. I’d let the dough rest overnight in the fridge (the recommended resting time was a couple of hours). Then I left the well wrapped rolled dough sheets in the fridge for a couple of days before getting some time to attempt the baklava proper. This waiting around time didn’t seem to affect the final product too much, although if you intend to store the rolled out dough for a while, I highly recommend flouring each sheet very well and slipping a piece of baking paper in between every second piece. Otherwise, the dough sticks together and has to be re-rolled.
We could either follow the given baklava recipe or use our own, so I went with one by Belinda Jeffery. It was quite similar to the given recipe except her version used different spices, and had lemon juice added to the syrup.
Syrupped and waiting to be removed. Each square topped with a clove
Did it pass muster with the baklava fan? “Perfect except it’s the low-res version, it hasn’t fully downloaded yet. The flavour is there, the syrupy texture is there, but the solid components weren’t quite there yet.” Huh? He meant the nuts weren’t fine enough (my bad, I like chunky), and the dough not as flaky. Well, understandable really, we hand-rolled this dough! It was never going to be as thin as a machine-made phyllo.
Filling of pistachios and pecans, spiced with cinnamon
I was very proud of myself for making this baklava entirely from scratch but honestly, in the future, I’m just going to buy phyllo ready made. Unlike puff pastry where the flavour is noticeably better in the home-made version, I just couldn’t taste that much of a difference with the home-made phyllo.
If you’d like to hand roll your own phyllo, check out the recipe at the Daring Kitchen. While you’re there, do check out what the other Daring Bakers have made. And before I go, here’s a neat video showing a lady rolling phyllo using a length of dowel.
Thanks for visiting, have a great start to the week and come back tomorrow for the postponed Malaysian Monday :)