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Sparrowsfall will have to speak for themselves, but I think they meant pour all the butter on the baklava (pre bake) just like what you do with the sugar (post bake), because you're absolutely right that you have to have the butter on during baking.  I wouldn't try that method though because it would be more difficult for the butter to fully infiltrate the dough in the center.

OH yes, you're right. Sparrowsfall meant to pour on the butter "at the end" of construction, but pre baking. Sorry , I misunderstood. Whew!!! that certainly relieves my nausea.

My sister is the expert in this neck of the woods and she has developed a relatively efficient system of butter on every 2 or 3 layers.

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I gave this a try for a Rosh Hashanah dessert and brought it to the big family get together. I knew it would be judged critically by this crew. Over all it got rave reviews and of course some critiquing was expected. I used a 1 lb package of phyllo that had the two halves rolled and packaged separately which made it very easy to work with. Spooned some clarified butter down and laid the first half of the phyllo down then the nut mixture and then the second layer. It took me a couple of minutes to decide the best way to cut it and in that time the top layer began to dry out so when I stated cutting the very top layer was sliding around on me. Thank goodness phyllo is very forgiving. Mine came out looking more like gfron1's than ChefCrash's. I didn't get the rise and felt the phyllo was a little denser than usual. I will have to try this again. Mistakes- over processed the nuts, felt there was too much syrup in my final dish. Need to work faster. My aunt said she thaws the phyllo in the fridge but then lets the box sit out of the fridge for several hours and that make the dough more workable. I guess I'll try that next time as well.

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It sounds like our experiences were nearly identical - I had trouble cutting, and over processed the nuts. Next time I would not add the liquid to the nuts in the processor - I would integrate them following the processing.

I also wonder if covering it while baking would even the rise of the baklava. I did that at the very end, but I would do it from the start next time to even the inner baking. That might result in a more even finish (although I liked the character of mine).

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You can certainly make it several days ahead. I have some wrapped in foil on the counter that's two weeks old and it looks and tastes fine. Best stored in the freezer for long term storage

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We made half the recipe in a 9"x13" glass pan.

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2 sticks butter and 1.5 sticks margarine.

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The foam is skimmed completely. The foam can burn and cause the baklava to look blotchy.

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The unused butter solids along with the skimmed foam is equivalent to a stick of butter.

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Baked for 1 hour @ 350*F. It's overdone. Should've pulled it out while blond in color.

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Still tasted good. :biggrin:

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I must not hesitate to praise the masterful appearance of ChefCrash's baklava creation.

Here is a historical backgrounder to the development of the Middle-Eastern baklava:

* The name baklava is based on the Arabic word for nuts.

* The name for the thin dough, phyllo, is a Greek word meaning leaf.

* In the Byzantine era, cinnamon and cloves were added.

* The Arabs introduced rosewater and cardamom.

* The Ottoman Empire added walnuts and honey.

Ground and finely chopped nuts are still layered between the sheets—most often used are walnuts and pistachios, but the nuts can vary based on what is available in the area. The whole is baked and soaked in a solution of sugar and either lemon juice or honey, spices and rosewater. Each region of the world has its own variations on the syrup in which the baklava is baked. Sometimes it contains honey and sometimes it doesn't. Today's baklava may also contain dried or fresh fruits or even chocolate.

Source: She Knows Cooking Smart (Coincide Publishing | March-April, 2006)

Toward “perfecting” baklava: “Layer store-bought phyllo dough with three separate layers of nuts (a combination of almonds and walnuts) flavored with cinnamon and cloves. Clarify the butter for even browning. Be sure to cut the baklava completely (don't just score it) before baking, then pour over a sugar syrup flavored with honey and lemon. Finally, allow the baklava to sit overnight before eating—the flavor improvement is worth the wait.”

Source: COOK’s ILLUSTRATED | March 2004 (A pistachio version containing cardamom & rose water is appended to the feature article.) When shopping for rose water, look for the superior triple-filtered product which isn't based on alcohol.

Orange-flower water is used in the syrup for a recipe delineated in Saveur (issue #54).

An equal weight of strüdel pastry can be substituted for the phyllo. Or a 13-oz. packet of storebought puff pastry can be used rather than the commonly designated 1-lb. quantity of phyllo sheets. Cut the puff pastry into six equal pieces and roll out thinly to fit dimensions of the baking pan. Layer the pastry with the nut mixture, using only 2 oz. melted butter.

The richest version of baklava I’ve prepared was filled with a chocolate-date-nut mixture soaked with a spiced syrup. Nevertheless, I expect most people would prefer a basic chopped-nut product -- served with an optional iced mint tea or, perhaps, a glass of sweet Sherry or Sauternes.

Lawrence


Edited by Redsugar (log)

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ok question I am going to make a large pan of this for company coming in two weeks ..if I want to make it this weekend and freeze it how is the best way to wrap it so it stays as absolutely wonderful tasting as possible ..or should I just wait and make a few days before the visit

I have not made this before but the person who is coming is so completely in love with this pastry she buys it wherever she sees it ... she will absolutely adore that I made it for her....so I really want to make it perfectly!

also what is really better for this walnuts or pistachios?

and should I use some honey or just the syrup as above ..that recipe sounds so great and easy...I would love to just try it as is .


Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)

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When I make it next I'll use either a nut mix or pistachios, and honey - not simply syrup.

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ok question I am going to make a large pan of this for company coming in two weeks ..if I want to make it this weekend and freeze it how is the best way to wrap it so it stays as absolutely wonderful tasting as possible ..or should I just wait and make a few days before the visit

I have not made this before but the person who is coming is so completely in love with this pastry she buys it wherever she sees it ...  she will absolutely adore that I made it for her....so I really want to make it perfectly!

also what is really better for this walnuts or pistachios?

and should I use some honey or just the syrup as above ..that recipe sounds so great  and easy...I would love to just try it as is .

I would choose the nut which I can find that is the freshest and best tasting. Nothing is worse than old, stale tasting nuts. Pistachio is nice when you can find tasty ones. Sometimes here in the South I make it with pecans (lightly pre-toasted) because they are often the freshest nuts I can find. They make a pretty tasty Baklava.

I suggest you make it the weekend before and NOT freeze it. Just keep it well wrapped in a very dry place.

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wow. i'm so glad i saw this thread. my technique differes, but for soem odd reason, i have never thought to cut the triangles before baking. no wonder everyone's baklava looks so pretty compared to mine. how did i never learn that crucial step i wonder?

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When you cut through the phyllo, do you cut straight to the bottom, or just through the top layers? I was thinking of doing this for spanakopita, so I'm planning to cut into squares.

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Rona,

Cut all the way through so the butter can penetrate.

I was afraid of that! I'm going to have to get a sharper knife before I can give this a try. I wonder how a ceramic blade would cut through phyllo...

Thanks!

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walnuts or pistachios

Both work well. My Syrian G'mother used pistachios exclusively.

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Today, i made this recipe and by far it is the best i have had compared to the other old recipe of brushing each layer with butter(This recipe was way easier). It by far was the best! my hat's off to chefcrash.

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my amature opinion on this technique for making baklava is ..I just love it!..it is perfectly easy and a really nice pastry to make!!! right now the thing is tormenting me on the counter right this second.

and I can not even imagine ever buttering every layer it was self buttering!!!....I am no expert in these matters of baking this ... but I have consumed probably more than my share of baklava in my life ...all shapes sizes and varying degrees of goodness..this tops the charts for me right now ..there is a very nice crispy to melt in your mouth consistancy to this ..and it is way too tempting for a sugar junky like myself to have just sitting around on the counter ..I just keep tasting!!! everyone who has passed it this morning already has tasted and the eyes rolled back with delight...

I put it together exactly as directed by Chef Crash ....quantities the same ...but I did use 1 part honey to one part simple syrup ..in my syrup with a tbl of lemon zest and orange flower water

I mixed half and half walnuts to pecans ..cardamom along with more orange flower water a pinch and a half of salt and vanilla sugar ground into the nut mixture

all butter

thanks so much for sharing with us! I am very happy with this and hopefully when the guest of honor shows tonight we have enough left to offer her at least a piece!!!

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I made an experimental baklava tuesday night at work (after closing). I wasn't feeling too good the next day (turned out to be some sort of stomach flu that's going around here) and completely forgot about it when I left work. Then I was off yesterday after a rough night with the flu (first day off sick from work in 4 years other than an unexpected appendectomy a couple years ago but it was a stomach bug and some sounds just aren't pleasant in a place where people are eating) so I still didn't go get it. Sooo... no pics. Somebody from work called and asked if they could get into it so I told them to go ahead. A couple people liked it, the rest seemed to think I shouldn't mess too much with a good thing (which is what I suspected when I was doing it). Instead of the traditional warm spices I used key lime zest and macadamia nuts in the layers and more of the zest in the syrup. The people who liked it have never had baklava before so maybe it's a taste association thing.

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Yesterday, I was determined to make spanakopita the easy way. I tried very hard to remember to buy a ceramic knife, so I could cut through the layers of phyllo easily, and I did! I was so proud of myself. Then I got home and remembered that I had forgotten to buy spinach. Oops.

So tonight, I just finished my spanakopita the easy way. I only made 1/4 the quantity of the original proportions ChefCrash posted, and since he mentioned his sister used less butter for savoury applications, I only used about 250g butter. It looked like too much, but now I'm thinking it might not have been enough. The layers don't look quite as nice as ChefCrash's baklava looked. If I had my camera here (it's at work), I'd take a picture. I sure hope it tastes good, but I won't be able to find out until tomorrow. It's too late to eat for me, so it will be tomorrow's lunch!

Pics--should I have used more butter? More filling?

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Still haven't tried it.


Edited by prasantrin (log)

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Having spent some time touring professional baklava shops in the Middle East, I thought I'd chime in. The professional way of making baklava is quite similar to ChefCrashes method, ie the sheets are not brushed individually.

As I observed in a workshop, one person is rolling out fresh phyllo. The fresh phyllo is layered in a tray with the nuts and then scored (cut all the way through). The trays were tossed onto the floor (crash), then someone poured melted samne (ghee) all over the tray to saturate, then baked. Cool syrup is poured on the hot baklava immediately after baking.

This technique was used for almost all shapes of baklava, including fingers and birds nests.

I actually asked one guy about brushing each layer individually with butter, he laughed and said it was unnecessary. But this is because the phyllo they are using is fresh, whereas purchased phyllo is slightly drier and I believe this is why some people choose to brush each layer individually, ensuring it is moistened.

However, I think if ChefCrashes method works in the home kitchen, it sounds good to me:-)

Though I'll admit it always kind of hurts my arteries to watch that huge mount of melted butter slogged over the pastries.

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If you are going to the trouble to make it, I agree ALL BUTTER. That's the traditional way and if you do a side by side comparison there is no contest to baklava that uses margarine.

If you're concerned about calories there are definitely ways to achieve a "baklava" effect like rolling the nuts in a small filo sheet instead of all the layers (the "fingers").

The raw cashew filled fingers are my favorites. Pure fatty sugary goodness!

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Wow, Rona, that looks great! I don't know how I missed this post earlier.

Your version looks perfect to me. I like how the top is obviously crunchy. Too much butter in baklava, spanakopita, etc. is a turn-off to me. How did it taste, when you finally tasted it? (And how did you exercise such restraint . . . .)

I'm sure that this is not conventional but I sometimes make spanakopita with layers as follows: dough/spinach/dough/spinach/dough. Also probably not conventional, but I like how it affects the texture: I crumple up a few of the leaves as I am laying them out within the dough layers. It seems to give some height to the dough layers (esp. to the middle layer of dough) so that the end product is not just flat and weighed down by the filling.

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Tomorrow I'm making a hazelnut baklava with a coffee syrup. Anyone ever made it with hazelnuts before and was it any good? I'm only really using them because i have a large pile that i need to use up.

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