Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Back to baking....
It's been a difficult few months, to put it mildly...I am struggling with a lot of things, and at this point of time, I cant say if the stress is going to get better, or if the struggle is going to cease any time soon...
But with every such phase in life, I become stronger, and understand myself better, and I believe thats a good life's lesson learnt :)
But let's not get all deep and serious, not when there's a weekend where I finally decide to reward myself with a happy break, and indulge in my favorite activity...baking.
I made Baklawa this weekend, which was to my surprise, quite a simple thing to do! The only part I didn't really care for was the cleaning up afterwards!!
Steps for making Baklawa:
1) Making phyllo pastry dough:
1 1/3 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons water(add more if required)
2 tablespoons olive oil(can be substituted by vegetable oil)
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
Mix the ingredients in the flour and knead until smooth soft but non-sticky dough is formed.
I kneaded it, and then wrapped it in a foil and kept it in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours as I didn't intend to make the Baklawa till evening, but I guess you can directly roll out the pastry.
2) The Syrup:
3/4th cup brown sugar + 1/4th cup castor sugar
1 cup water
1 stick cinnamon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon rosewater(optional)
Add water into the sugar in a saucepan, add the cinnamon sticks, lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and let it cool. Once it reaches room temperature, refrigerate it.
Tip: The brown sugar adds a depth to the flavor. However it can be easily substituted with normal refined sugar.
Chilling the syrup before using it helps the Baklawa keep its crispiness.
3)Preparing the nut mixture:
1.5 cups finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup castor(very fine or powdered) sugar( I used 1/4 cup powdered brown sugar + 1/4 cup castor sugar)
3-4 powdered cloves
2 teaspoons of Cinnamon powder
Tip: You can interchange the walnuts with pistachios or any other nuts of your choice, however dont add cinnamon if not using walnuts. You could also add 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs or chopped dates, but I preferred my Baklawa with only nuts.
Mix all the ingredients together to use as a filling.
Make 12 portions of the dough and roll them out one by one. Make sure that you dust the surface lightly with flour and roll it wafer thin, until you can clearly see the surface below.(Use a large smooth work table or surface)
Use melted butter to butter a pan(I used a cake tin) generously. Roll out one portion of the dough and place it carefully on the base of the tin, it's ok to have a few holes in the rolled out dough.
Butter this generously again, and place the next layer on top of it.Make sure each layer is nicely stretched out. Continue making dough layers.
I made 6 layers because I got a bit bored of the rolling, but if you have a pasta machine, it should be really easy. Typically there are 8-10 layers.
Now spread the nut mixture on this.
Again roll 6 layers and cover the nuts, buttering each layer generously.
Cut through the layers with a sharp knife into small square/diamond shaped pieces.
5) Baking the Baklawa
Bake the Baklawa in a preheated oven at 175 degrees C for 30 - 45 minutes until the top starts looking done.
Let the Baklawa cool completely before pouring the cold sugar syrup on top of it.