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Daring Bakers: From Phyllo to Baklava

Monday, June 27, 2011

I've used store-bought phyllo enough times to know that I like it a lot but I only recently made baklava for the first time ­­– with pistachio and coconut from Lori Longbotham's Luscious Coconut Desserts (pictured below). It was an easy process and I knew I would be making the sweet again and again. I've always liked baklava despite the common complaint of it being too sweet ­­– I think the syrup is essential to produce that unique and moreish crisp and chewy texture and flavour.

I like making doughs and pastries from scratch, but I never thought I'd ever make phyllo. This month, the Daring Bakers were given precisely that mission.

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

Here's the Daring Bakers' pdf of the recipe and the whole process. I adapted the coconut-nut filling from the baklava I did before for the confection (filling recipe follows).

Baklava using ready-made phyllo
I'll be honest, for baklava – and other pastries where you want to see those puffy layers – I would use ready-made phyllo dough. Though a little expensive over here, it makes a better-looking baklava, as in the picture on the right of the baklava I made some time ago. Compare it to the picture below. Not very pretty, is it? (Which I why I put it last in this post!)

But it was still enjoyable making phyllo from scratch. Mixing the dough and rolling it out was not difficult. This is a sturdy dough which readily allows itself to be pushed and pulled into compliance. However, I couldn't roll out the sheets evenly. So after the first three sheets, I decided that instead of rolling out all the portions of dough into sheets before lining the tin, I would roll out one portion at a time, lining and brushing with butter as I went along, then layering with the filling before continuing with more pastry sheets and filling. If the dough sheet was a little thick in some places, I would just stretch it gently and cut off the excess at the edge of the tin. In the end, I got quite thin sheets, after all. I rolled out the cut-off dough and made cigars with leftover filling.

To have a go at making your own phyllo dough, go to the pdf link provided earlier. For a filling made with coconut, try out the recipe that follows. The lime syrup is a must ­­– it is really what makes this baklava special. And it makes me want to get up and do the joget (a lively traditional Malay dance)!

Pumpkin seed and coconut baklava with lime syrup
Makes 2 layers for a 20cm square baking tin

1¼ cup shredded coconut
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped glacé pineapple
2 tablespoons water
½ tablespoon rose water
Pinch of salt
  • Stir all the ingredients together.
Lime Syrup
½ cup caster sugar
100ml water
Large pinch of salt
2 tablespoon lime juice
 ½ tablespoon rose water
  • Put sugar, water and salt into a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Lower heat and simmer syrup for 10 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened. Take off the heat and stir in lime juice and rose water.
  • When baklava has been taken out of the oven and allowed to cool for 10 minutes, sprinkle top with finely minced nuts and pour the syrup evenly over the top. Cool completely on wire rack.

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