Monday, July 4, 2011

Daring Bakers’ June 2011 Challenge: From Phyllo to Baklava!!

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.

When I want to make a stress-free appetizer, I often turn to the frozen aisle and buy a box of pre-made phyllo dough. My initial reaction to the announcement of this challenge was slight panic. Make my own phyllo dough? What is this, Top Chef: Just Desserts?

Like I've said before, the point of joining the Daring Kitchen is to really challenge myself and learn new cooking and baking techniques. So here I am, making phyllo dough and baklava.

Recipe after the jump!

I thought this recipe was excellent and would recommend it for any making phyllo dough and/or baklava for the first time. If you don't feel like making the dough, at least use the baklava recipe, substituting with pre-made phyllo. This is the perfect dessert for a large crowd or an afternoon tea party.

Phyllo Dough
*Note 1: To have enough to fill a 9” x 9” baking dish with 18 layers of phyllo, double this recipe.
*Note 2: Single recipe will fill a 8” x 5” baking dish.
*Note 3: Dough can be made a head of time and frozen. Just remove from freezer and allow to thaw
and continue making your baklava.

1 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. In a stand mixer, combine flour and salt. In a separate bowl combine water, oil, and vinegar.

2. Add water and oil mixture to mixer on low speed, mixing until you get a soft dough. If the dough appears dry add a little more water (I had to add a tablespoon more).

3. Change to the dough hook and let knead approximately 10 minutes until the dough is smooth. If you are kneading by hand, knead approximately 20 minutes.

4. Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead by hand for 2 more minutes. Pick up the dough and through it down hard on the counter a few times during the kneading process.

5. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30-90 minutes, longer is best (I let mine rest 2 hours). 

Rolling out the Dough
Note 1: Although you may use a rolling pin, a dowel works best. I used a 1/4" dowel from Michael's Arts and Crafts. 
Note 2: Remove your rings or any other jewelry you may be wearing.
Note 3: Flour your work surface and dowel/rolling pin. Keep the flour nearby, you will need more as you roll out each piece of dough.

1.  Cut a golf size piece of dough. Slightly flatten and roll out with the dowel.

2. Wrap dough around the dowel. 

3. Keeping the dough wrapped around the dowel, quickly roll in a back and forth motion. The dough will get bigger quickly. Be sure to continuously flour the dough as it gets thinner, so that it won't stick to itself or the surface.

4. Continue to roll dough until it is transparent and large enough to fit in your pan. Keep each sheet well floured and set aside on a baking sheet.

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network
30 servings


For the syrup:
1 1/4 cups honey
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best)
A few whole cloves or a pinch or ground clove

When you put your baklava in the oven start making your syrup. When you combine the two, one of them needs to be hot.


1. Combine all ingredients in a pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Boil for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks.

Ingredients for the Filling
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
3/4 cup blanched almonds
3/4 cup raw or roasted walnuts
3/4 cup raw or roasted pistachios
2/3 cup sugar
Phyllo dough (see recipe above)
1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Combine nuts, sugar and spices in a food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor chop with a sharp knife as fine as you can. Set aside.

3. Trim your phyllo sheets to fit in your pan.

4. Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet.

5. Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter.

6. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top.

7. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times.

8. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top.

9. Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times.

10. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top.

11. Continue layering and buttering phyllo 5 more times. On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of phyllo with no holes if possible because it just looks better.

12. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance.

13. Using a sharp knife, cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces. Then brush with a generous layer of butter making sure to cover every area and edge.

14. Bake for approximately 30 minutes; remove from oven and cut all the way through. Continue baking for another 30 minutes. (Oven temperatures will vary, you are looking for the top to be a golden brown, take close watch yours may need more or less time in the oven)

15. When baklava is cooked remove from oven and pour the cooled (will still be warmish) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to cover all surfaces when pouring. It looks like it is a lot but over night the syrup will soak into the baklava.


  1. Your baklava looks great! And yes with your ability to make the phyllo you should be on Top Chef: Just desserts! IT doesn't start here in Canada until next week, I'm quite excited!

  2. so beautiful and amaizing job!! kouky