1 January 2009

Baklava for New Year's Eve

As long as I can remember we've had baklava on New Year's Eve and I have a suspicion that this is a Bulgarian tradition to have this wonderful dessert at this time of the year. This year we celebrated New Year in the UK and I finally got a chance to make this. Sadly New Year didn't quite work out. My Sister Bip came to visit and got a massive allergic reaction to the cat at Lundulph's parents' house and we had to go home and celebrate on our own. Lundulph and the others did try the baklava and said that it tasted as it should.

Ingredients

120 g walnuts
2 dl finely ground breadcrumbs
200 g filo pastry
1.5 tbsp ground cinnamon
100 g unsalted butter
300 g granulated sugar
4 dl water
1 tsp mastic resin nodules (optional)
half a lemon

Method


  1. Coarsely chop the walnuts. Butter an oven-safe dish, about 2.5 - 3 cm deep.
  2. Lay a sheet or two (if very thin) of filo pastry, then sprinkle some of the walnuts, then some breadcrumbs and some cinnamon and another layer of filo pastry.
  3. Continue layering an finish off with two layers of filo pastry.
  4. Melt the butter on medium heat, until it bubbles. In the mean time slice the baklava with a sharp knife. I cut diamond shapes. Set the oven to pre-heat to gas mark 4 (175 degrees C).
  5. Drizzle the hot butter with a spoon along the cuts and also along the edge of the dish. Then bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes, until it goes golden brown.
  6. In the mean time, put the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  7. I found mastic resin in a Turkish shop, it's not necessary, but adds a nice flavour to the baklava. Place it in a double piece of cheese cloth and tie in tight to a little bag or it'll go sticky and be impossible to remove from the saucepan.
  8. Add the mastic bag and the lemon and leave to simmer for about 30 minutes, it'll be ready shortly after the baklava itself.
  9. At the end of the simmering of the sugar syrup, remove the mastic bag and discard. Fish out the lemon with a couple of large spoons and squeeze it out into the syrup as much as possible. Remove any pips that might have come out.
  10. Pour about three quarters of the syrup over the baklava and leave to soak in. Check after half an hour, if all the syrup has been absorbed, pour over the rest and leave to cool completely.
  11. Cover with greaseproof paper and clingfilm and store in the fridge.

I actually forgot to put the cinnamon between the layers and rescued by cooling the syrup to abut 40 degrees and stirring in all the cinnamon there before pouring it over the baklava. As I said, Lundulph thought it tasted as it should.

The baklava sold in Turkish shops is cut into smaller bite-sized pieces and also tends to be dryer, so can be handled with your fingers. The baklava that I made should be very moist from the syrup, almost swimming in it, so a knife and fork are required to eat. It's very sweet, so don't be tempted to cut into too large pieces.

Happy New Year 2009 to everyone!

Update 03.01.2009:
I finally got to taste my own creation and have the following observations to make. It was not as sweet a my Mum's and discussing this with her, I think adding the leftover syrup might have reduced the sweetness a bit. In addition, from the amount she normally makes (1 kg filo pastry) she'll use 1 kg sugar to 1.2 l water. Reducing to the amounts above, this wouldbe 3.5 dl water.
Another thing was that the syrup had gone quite slimy and I think this may be caused by the lemon flesh that came out when I squeezed it. Instead, the lemon juice shold be squeezed out before putting the lemon into the syrup. Squeeze it straight in, then drop the lemon in as well. This should be done at the very end of the syrup preparation, then just let it come back to boil again and fish out the lemon, shaking off any excess.
Of course these adjustments will have to wait to next year's baklava, because I won't be doing this any time soon, it's much too rich for that.

1 comment:

ginger@dinnerdiary.org said...

Happy new year! Hope you had a good Christmas.