Monday, September 5, 2011

Sophia's Baklava

Labor Day celebration cookout turns Greek....

After we consumed Michael's bbq ribs, the potato salad, and the baked beans, we began discussing baklava.  Sophia's Greek heritage, her baking knowledge, and her Greek cookbook led the way to the kitchen.

I randomly chose a page in the cookbook - this translates to Dessert!
 Greek cooking and baking; a well-worn, much-used cookbook from Sophia's library
 a very special personalized cookbook
 the basic Baklava recipe; Sophia tweaked the recipe

Sophia - our mentor
Sophia and Val ...
 ...utensils in hand
 tasting the Greek honey
 lemon zest to add to the sugar syrup
 Sophia buttering the phyllo
 Sophia's method of adding the nut mixture to the phyllo sheets
 rolling the phyllo sheets to encase the nut mixture

 pressing the layers together
Val reading the recipe
 Sophia's smile
each log brushed again with butter, then sliced with serrated knife through top layer at 3-finger widths 
 another brush of butter after the slits
 a splash of tap water
and into the 325 degree oven until golden brown
 adding the Greek honey to the sugar/water/lemon zest syrup
 the thick rich Greek honey slides slowly from the spoon into the syrup
syrup ready to pour over baked phyllo/nut rolls
 just out of the oven
 three cooks in the kitchen
adding cooled syrup to hot phyllo/nut rolls (cool/hot is important per Sophia)

Queen Val and her tea (Sophia brewed a delicious, soothing Greek tea for us to sip while waiting for baking to complete)

Sophia's Baklava

  • 3 cups nuts; mixture of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts (none were salted nor roasted)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs or crumbled biscotti
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 t cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1 t ground cloves (or to taste)
  • 1 package purchased phyllo dough, thawed 
  • 8 oz butter, melted
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup Greek honey
  1. Process first five ingredients in food processor until finely chopped; do not process into a powder nor paste (excess nut mixture may be frozen for later use)
  2. Melt butter in small pan; sit aside (you will need a small brush to slather the butter onto the phyllo dough sheets)
  3. In large pan, make syrup by combining 3 c. sugar and 2 c. water; boil for 10 minutes
  4. Add grated lemon zest and Greek honey to sugar water mixture; sit aside to cool while phyllo dough/nut rolls bake
  5. Spread melted butter on three individual sheets of phyllo dough, stacking one on top of the other after brushing with butter
  6. Fold buttered sheets in half, short sides meeting
  7. Generously add nut mixture to the edge of the stacked and folded buttered sheets and roll phyllo sheets around nut mixture; place in an un-greaed, unlined baking dish with 2" sides (choose a dish that is large enough to hold all the syrup, which will be added after baking)
  8. Continue to make phyllo dough/nut rolls
  9. Brush top of rolls lightly with butter
  10. Sprinkle a few drops of water over rolls from fingertips held under running water
  11. Bake in 325 degree oven until golden brown, turning once during baking.  Baking time will vary but should be between 30 and 45 minutes.
  12. Syrup mixture should be cooling at this time; Sophia stresses the need to add room temperature syrup to the hot phyllo/nut rolls immediately after removing them from the over
  13. Once syrup is added, sit the dish aside and allow to cool completely at room temperature.  The syrup will soak into the rolls.
  14. The baklava will keep at room temperature for several days.
As you can see, we did not exactly follow the recipe in the book pictured above; thus, the recipe truly becomes "Sophia's Baklava."

Sophia is moving to another city.  I almost missed meeting her...but didn't.  Years ago, there was another dear lady in my life that I 'almost missed meeting....but didn't.  She changed my life.   Meetings such as these are meant to be....


1 comment:

  1. Looks delicious.Looks like you were having lot's of fun.