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Baklava, "Nightingale's Nest" type (Bülbül Yuvasi)

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Baklava, "Nightingale's Nest" type (Bülbül Yuvasi)

Serves 30.

This is a favorite of the many kinds of individually-rolled baklava types common in Turkey. This recipe is based on the one in “Türk Tatlı Sanatı” (The Art of Turkish Sweets) by Necip Usta (the Julia Child of Turkey I suppose) but adapted for American realities.

Necip Usta’s recipe presupposes that you have made your own yufka (phyllo). As making true baklava yufka is a long, labor-intensive process that few people will undertake, here is a doable version with American-style prepared phyllo. It’s not the same; it can't be because the Turkish baklava dough has eggs, and is rolled to rolling-paper thinness, but it’s still quite good.

This is a recipe for a 50 cm round pan. Such pans are easy to find in Middle Eastern groceries and aren't too expensive. You can of course make it in any pan, you can also cook it in batches as long as you keep the uncooked baklava from drying out. But a big round pan of this baklava, in concentric circles, is a beautiful sight, and you are going to a lot of effort...


Pastry

  • 2 pkg Prepared phyllo dough
  • 2 lb butter, clarified

Filling

  • 1/2 lb ground pistachios, walnuts or almonds
  • 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1/8 c water

Syrup

  • 6 c sugar
  • 3 c water
  • 2 T lemon juice

Garnish

  • 1/2 c ground nuts, or
  • 1/2 c blanched whole pistachios

Put a pot of water on the stove and let it simmer; this will help keep your humidity up. (Ignore this suggestion if you live in or near a tropical rain forest.)

Lightly butter the pan.

Open one box phyllo, spread, cut crosswise into three equal parts. Cover with a damp (not wet!) towel and let rest for 10 minutes. This allows the phyllo to soften and be more workable.

Take several sheets from the top of each of the three stacks to work with, replace the towel.

Take a 10 inch dowel (or a new unsharpened pencil, or something of similar dimensions) and lay it on the table horizontally in front of you. Lay one sheet of phyllo vertically over the dowel so that there is about an inch and a half of the phyllo on your side of the dowel, and the remaining length on the far side.

Put about a teaspoon of filling evenly along the far side of the dowel. Now lift the dowel over the filling, and roll the piece up around the dowel, not too tightly, leaving about 2/3 of an inch unrolled at the end.

Now gently push the roll from the ends towards the middle, crimping it tightly. (It may take a few tries before you get it just right; too much and you will get splitting.) Now slip the dowel out, and bring the ends of the roll together towards the unrolled portion into a small circle, so that you end up with a little “donut” (the “nest”), with the unrolled portion forming a “floor.” Place in pan, cut side towards center. Continue around the pan making one circle, then another inside that, till you reach the center. Their edges should barely touch but do not pack them too tightly because they will expand some during cooking. (It's no disaster if they do; they'll still settle back down.)

Continue with the remaining pieces, removing a few each time from the stacks to work with and leaving the remaining ones covered to soften a bit. When you run out, open the next box and cut just one third off; you probably won’t need more than this.

Preheat oven to 390F, and melt the clarified butter, it should not be overly hot; a temperature where you can keep a finger in it. (Unclarified butter will make spots on your baklava.)

Pour butter evenly over the baklava and bake for about 25-30 minutes till lightly browned, turning pan if necessary to ensure even browning.

While the baklava is baking, make the syrup. Mix sugar, water and lemon juice, boil together 2 minutes. Keep hot.

When baklava has browned remove from the oven and tilt pan, use a turkey baster to remove the extra butter that collects on the edge.

Pour the hot syrup over the baklava, and let cool. Garnish with either a small spoonful of ground pistachios in the center of each piece, or a whole blanched pistachio. Or you can also use ground blanched almonds.

This baklava can be formed in various ways. Instead of rounds, it can be simply doubled over, formed into a spiral, or left straight (çubuk baklava). You can also make a really beautiful pan of baklava by combining shapes.

Keywords: Dessert, Vegetarian, Expert, Middle Eastern

( RG1643 )


"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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