Last year, I published Sharon’s quick recipe for baklava. It was a hit, and so, I’m running it once more for those who may have a craving for baklava, and don’t want to wait six hours for a batch.
For those of you who know of what I speak, there need be no definition of the word, but, for those who may be Baklava illiterate, let it be known, that Baklava is a Mediterranean dessert, made from layers of flaky pastry, nuts, (some use pistachios, others use walnuts or pecans) butter, and honey, or simple syrup.
Sharon’s family on both the maternal, and the paternal sides hail from Lebanon. Both sets of grandparents were immigrants to the USA, arriving in the early 1900’s. Cooking in the Middle-Eastern style was the norm, and I, soon after Sharon and I met, was to learn much about the food. Some I liked, and some, I didn’t.
But Baklava, well, that I liked. It isn’t called Baklava in Arabic, but “But-lay-wah” (spelled phonetically) . However you spell it, it’s the same.
Because of the work involved in preparing Baklava, it usually was prepared for a special occasion, such as Christmas, Easter, or a family get-together. Making the fillo dough was difficult and time consuming. Sharon’s mom and grandmother Katina George would gather a pile of quilts and bedding, place it all on a bed, smoothing them, then taking a clean sheet which they stretched tightly over the mound of bedding. A dusting of flour was next, then, a ball of dough was placed in the middle of the bed, and several ladies (standing around the bed) would each take hold of a side the dough ball, and begin to stretch the dough over the bedding until the dough was drawn it into a thin sheet. They allowed it to dry for a few minutes, folded it, and repeated the process until they had several large sheets.
They chopped the nuts, (no food processor) melted the butter, and pre-heated the oven. The fillo sheets were cut to fit what ever sized pan they were using, and then the layering process began. Each individual sheet was covered with melted butter and a nut and sugar mixture. Then, when a suitable thickness was reached, the pastry was cut into a diamond shape, (usually about 2 inches) then baked until the Baklava was a beautiful, golden brown, then removed from the oven, and the simple syrup was added.
It was cooled, then served to eager spectators. So, now that you know how it was made then, how would you like to learn the new, easy way to make your own Baklava, and be the hit of any occasion when you are asked to bring a dessert?
Sharon’s Easy Baklava
1 Pkg. Athens fillo dough
1 lb Butter
1 lb Walnuts or Pecan halves
3 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Water
The easy part begins with the dough, “Athens Fillo Dough”. It’s waiting for you at the grocery store. Pick up one package for each 9” X 12” pan you wish to make. Inside each package are two 8 ounce portions of fillo sheets.
Pre-heat your oven to 325° .
Next, make your simple syrup, boiling 1 cup of water, then adding 2 cups of sugar. Stir once, then allow to boil, checking consistency until the syrup, threads when the spoon is raised. Set this aside to cool, or place it in the refrigerator.
Using your food processor, or husband, chop a pound of shelled pecan halves or walnuts. You want them finely chopped, but still identifiable as nuts.
Take the remaining cup of sugar, and blend with the chopped nuts. Next, melt the butter. Grease your pan, then unfold one half of the dough, (8 oz.) and lay in the pan. Spread the nuts and sugar mixture over the top of the fillo dough. Now, unfold the remaining fillo dough, and lay on top of the sugar/nut mixture. Press the dough firmly into the sides of the pan. Taking a sharp knife, cut the pan into 1-½” inch squares or into diamonds if you prefer. Pour the melted butter over the cut fillo, making sure you don’t miss any spots.
Place the pan in the oven for about one hour, or, until it is nicely browned. Remove the pan, and immediately pour your cooled simple syrup over, into, and around the beautiful Baklava. Cool, serve, and prepare to take a bow.
So, there it is, hope you have a lot of luck with it, and it wins you much praise.
And, if this is your first visit to the “What A Life Blog”, welcome, and please come back. I post new stories every Saturday, and I invite your response. I also include a “gadget” from the past for the readers to identify. So, take a minute, leave a comment, (Your name and email address are never revealed) and revisit every week. Hope to hear from you.
And here is a special gadget for you to ponder. A delicious, gooey, chunk of virtual baklava to the winner!