Saturday, April 28, 2012

Honey Obsession: Baklava

Continuing with my honey obsession, today I decided to make some baklava. As I was about half way through the prep I realized, "Hey! I have never made this before!" A quick visit to my favorite "I have a question, I need a solid answer" chef, Alton Brown, to see if I was on the right track showed that I was indeed.


Although, I did notice an ingredient he uses that I didn't have handy, rose water, which, of course, led to the usual overwhelming curiosities and the extensive scouring of the inter-webs about how to make it at home.  It was my day off, so why not?

I used only roses, swiped from my neighbors yard, and spring water. It was easy but a bit time consuming.
You can find the method I used here.


I also set a pound of butter to clarify by simmering it for 10 minutes and then straining off the milk solids that float to the top.

By this time my house was smelling great, like butter and roses! Yum! (Coming up next- rose water and butter cookies?)


Baklava Rollups;

1lb package of frozen filo dough, defrosted.
rose water ( a fun, but not necessary ingredient)

For the filling;
8 oz shelled pistachios
6 oz walnuts
4oz almonds
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg

I used my food processor to chop the nuts, but I won't do it this way again. I found it pulverized too many of them and left others very large. Next time around I will use a zip top bag and smash them with my meat tenderizer- barbarian style!

Once all the nuts are crushed, move them all to a large bowl, add the sugar, orange zest, and spices. Mix well and set aside.






For the syrup;
Honey syrup with cinnamon stick and orange peel
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cup water
2-2inch strips of whole orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
1 clove

Add all of this in a heavy-bottomed pot. Stir and then simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes. A few dashes of Angostura bitters is a nice addition at the last few minutes of simmering, but like the rose water it's not necessary. Set aside the syrup to cool.

Elmore's wild flower honey
I highly recommend using a type of honey that you really love for this recipe, because it is what this treat is all about.

I picked up this wildflower honey from Elmore's Beehive Products in Shasta county while on vacation.

I am always surprised how honey can taste so different from county to county, so I always seek out a local honey when in a new place.

This one pictured, from Elmore's, has a dramatically different flavor profile from the wildflower honey Buzzin Apiaries in Merced county offers.




Buzzin' Apiaries is my local, (and favorite), honey producer. Before I found them honey was just honey to me. Now, honey is like wine, it tells the story of its environment.

Unfortunately, Buzzin' Apiaries does not have a web site. You can find out more about them or order their honey by calling or emailing them. 209-202-1454  buzzinapiaries@yahoo.com


OK, enough about honey.

Lets talk about the filo dough. It's easier than I expected, but it does take a light touch. If you have caveman sausage fingers it might prove a bit challenging.



  Set your over at 350°
Carefully unroll the pack of filo and lay flat. 
With in reach, you will need;

your clarified butter in a dish along with a pastry brush

a spray bottle with about half a cup of rose water in it

about a half cup of the cooled honey syrup with a 1 teaspoon measure.



 Take one sheet of filo and lightly brush it with butter. Add another sheet of filo on top and also brush that with butter. Continue once more so you have a total of 3 layered sheets.

Evenly scatter 1/3 of a cup of the nut mixture over the top. Spray with the rose water. If you are not using rose water just use spring water in a spray bottle. Then, give a light drizzle, (about 1 teaspoon), of the honey syrup. Then, on top of the nuts, add one more sheet of filo, brush with butter, add a second sheet, and brush the top of that one with butter too. 

Just to clarify, you should have 3 sheets on the bottom, then the nut mixture, and then two sheets on top of the nut mixture.

Then, carefully, roll up lengthwise. Set rolls side by side in 10x15x2 inch baking dish. Continue this process until you have used up all of the nuts and filo.

After 30 minutes of baking, remove from oven and cut the rolls into 4 even pieces. Return to oven for 15 minutes.
Once finished cooking, remove to a cooling rack for and hour. Then cut again along the same cuts you made before. Pour the honey syrup over the entire pan, making sure to pour along the cuts.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for about 6-8 hours or over night.

We couldn't wait that long. Four hours was enough for my husband and I. He ate three pieces and then told me that baklava was one of his favorite desserts... REALLY? 11 years together and he just tells me this NOW? Looks like I'm not the only one with a honey obsession and that I'll be making baklava more often. I'm not complaining, it is really good!




enjoy~ 99%BitterSweet