Daring Bakers’ Challenge: From Phyllo to Baklava

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

Whew!  Talk about a project.  I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon making the phyllo and baklava (and a HUGE mess to go with it!) and then had to wait anxiously until this morning (after all the baklava syrup had been absorbed) to even see if it was all worth it.  Thankfully, the results are pretty delicious, even if I can’t say I’d go to all that trouble all over again.  Here are my notes:

  • I doubled the dough recipe (as recommended) and let it rest for 2 hours before rolling it.
  • The wrap-the-dough-around-the-dowel technique didn’t work for me, perhaps because my rolling pin is thicker and is silicone (not wood).  My dough just fused together into a tube instead of growing larger.  I just kept moving and flipping my dough, rolling it from every direction, until it was as thin as I could get it.  Then, as recommended, I stretched it even more with my hands.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well the dough held up for handling despite being rolled so thin.
  • Even though I definitely got my dough sheets to the point of transparency, I only ended up with 11 or 12 sheets.  Since they weren’t huge and I didn’t end up with quite as many of them as I hoped I would, I decided to use a 9-inch round cake pan instead of a 9 x 9-inch square pan for my baklava.
  • I thought I floured well between each sheet, but I apparently didn’t do it well enough; my sheets stuck together pretty badly when I was trying to pull them off to assemble the baklava.  I did my best to make sure I separated all the sheets, but one or two layers might have been doubled.  I had set one perfect sheet aside on the counter under some plastic wrap for the top, though, so I don’t think anyone would really be able to tell that I struggled.
  • I used the recommended nut combination for my filling (almonds, walnuts, and pistachios) and the recommended spices (cinnamon and allspice).  I think I overdid the clove a bit in my syrup.
  • I used an entire stick of butter for buttering between the phyllo layers.
  • The recommended baking time was 60 minutes at 350°F, but mine was a deep golden brown at 45, so I took my pan out of the oven at that point.
  • Since I used a 9-inch round cake pan (6-cup capacity) instead of a 9 x 9-inch square pan (8-cup capacity), I made 3/4 recipes of the filling and the syrup. The filling was just right, but I think there was a bit too much syrup; I should have followed my instinct and left a bit out.  Even after resting for 16 hours, my baklava was still oozing a bit, though the majority of the syrup did get absorbed.
  • In my opinion, the syrup is a bit too sweet.  If I ever make it again (with store-bought phyllo, sorry!), I’ll cut the sugar to 1/2 cup (for a full recipe) instead of 2/3 cup.
  • After the initial cuts (before baking, in the middle of baking, and post-syrup), I continued to cut through my baklava periodically as it cooled.  It came out of the pan very easily this morning.

Assembled, Unbaked Baklava

Baked Baklava

Cut Baklava

The end result was a tasty treat, but it was a LOT of work.  This challenge certainly relieved me of any pride that might get in the way of me buying frozen phyllo dough at the grocery store. 🙂

Thanks for a great challenge, Erica!

Recipe link: Phyllo and Baklava

6 Responses to “Daring Bakers’ Challenge: From Phyllo to Baklava”

  1. 1 Barbara | Creative Culinary June 28, 2011 at 1:12 am

    You made the dough too? Oh my. I love a good challenge but I would have been like the runner who hopped in a cab; I fear I would have been inclined to cheat!

    Love baklava though, jealous of you right now!

  2. 2 jfochek June 28, 2011 at 1:18 am

    If I hadn’t skipped out of last month’s challenge due to the unrelenting craziness that is my life, I probably would have skipped this one too. At least next time, I’ll KNOW to cheat (and tell)! 🙂

  3. 3 JM June 28, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Wow, love the COLOR…or, I should say, colorS. If I make baklava again, I’ll be sure to try to bake it long enough to have that gorgeous golden color.

  4. 4 Patri June 28, 2011 at 1:52 am

    I agree with you, there might have been a bit too much sugar in the syrup, but it was still delicious 🙂 I didn’t have the problem with the phylo sheets sticking together, but I did have the same problems ending up with phylo tubes 🙂 So I too ended up stretching the dough in the regular way. You did a great job, the pictures are mouth watering! Congrats!

  5. 5 karla June 28, 2011 at 2:31 am

    Your pictures are gorgeous! I had lots of the same problems that you did. And also thought the syrup was a bit too sweet. I added some cayenne pepper to mine which helped cut it a bit, but I definitely would lessen the sugar in the next go round.

  6. 6 ericasedibles July 31, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    your baklava looks delicious! Sorry to hear you had problems with the dough.

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