Monday, June 27, 2011

Daring Bakers June Challenge - Baklava

In making this months challenge, I was absolutely physically challenged. Making homemade phyllo dough was a task. I would never have attempted it if not for this challenge and I am very grateful to Erica for creating it. I was in a constant state of "I don't know about this" as I progressed. I knew I had to accomplish it early on due to vacation plans. I wanted to do an unusual filling and decided to ride the current bacon craze (I have always been crazy about bacon) with a date, almond and turkey bacon filling. My hands swelled a bit and ached the day after making this dessert but it was delicious and I loved the flavors.
I have no plans to ever make this again. I am glad I did it though because it feels like a notch on my culinary belt. Ever made your own phyllo? I imagine a young whippersnapper grilling me?? Why yes I have, I will reply, and I think everyone should least once.

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 use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

I garnished the plate with Gumpaste Daisies. I served the Baklava on the screened porch with a strong black tea. The Baklava was very sweet so the strong tea helped soften the sweetness for me. I felt refreshed and a little full afterward. I thought about weeding the garden but decided for another slice of Baklava instead. The weeds would still be there but I knew I would share this hard earned dessert with loved ones and it would be gone soon.

Phyllo Dough
*Note 1: To have enough to fill my 8” x 8” baking dish with 18 layers of phyllo I doubled this recipe.


1 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose (plain) 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, (could substitute white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, but could affect the taste)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour and salt
2. Mix with paddle attachment.
3. Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl.
4. Add water & oil mixture with mixer on low speed, mix until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water (I had to add a tablespoon more)
5. Change to the dough hook and let knead approximately 10 minutes. You will end up with beautiful smooth dough. If you are kneading by hand, knead approx. 20 minutes.
6. Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead for 2 more minutes. Pick up the dough and through it down hard on the counter a few times during the kneading process.
7. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil.
8. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30-90 minutes, longer is better.

Rolling Out The Dough:

1. Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger than a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.
2. Flour your hands, rolling pin and counter. As you roll you will need to keep adding, don’t worry, you can’t over-flour.
3. Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out.
4. Rotate and repeat until it is as thin as you can it. Don’t worry if you get rips in the dough, as long as you have one perfect one for the top you will never notice.
5. When you get it as thin as you can with the rolling pin, carefully pick it up with well floured hands and stretch it on the backs of your hands as you would a pizza dough, just helps make it that much thinner. Roll out your dough until it is transparent. NOTE: you will not get it as thin as the frozen phyllo dough you purchase at the store because it is made by machine
6. Set aside on a well-floured surface. Repeat the process until your dough is used up. Between each sheet again flour well. You will not need to cover your dough with a wet cloth, as you do with boxed dough, it is moist enough that it will not dry out.

Baklava Recipe
18 servings


For the syrup:
· 1 1/4 cups honey
· 1 1/4 cups  water
· 1 1/4 cups sugar
· 1 cinnamon stick
· 1 (2-inch) piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best)
· a few 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, I find it better when the baklava is hot and the syrup has cooled
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved
2. Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally.
3. Once boiled for 10 minutes remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks.

Ingredients for the Baklava Filling:

1 (5-inch) cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces or 2 teaspoons  ground cinnamon
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup sugar
Phyllo Dough (see recipe above)
1 cup (2 sticks)  melted



1. Preheat oven to moderate 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  4 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade phyllo is thicker so it's not needed)
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, just looks better.
12. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance.
13. With a sharp knife, cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces. If you can't cut all the ways through don’t worry you will cut again later.  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 again this time 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). The middle layers of the baklava take a little longer to cook so try to keep in as long as possible.
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 creating a beautifully sweet and wonderfully textured baklava! I actually used about half of the syrup because I do not like really sweet desserts. the more syrup used the sweeter the final product.
16. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled cover and store at room temperature. Allow the baklava to sit overnight to absorb the syrup.
17. Serve at room temperature.

Storage: There are a few ways to store your Baklava. It is recommended that you store your baklava at room temperature in an airtight container. Stored at room temperature your baklava will last for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze your baklava and then just set it out at room temperature to thaw. I stored mine in the refrigerator because of the bacon. I liked it right from the fridge but the flavors blended better after coming to room temperature.


  1. Good strong tea and a slice of baklava sound really good right now, lovely job!

  2. bacon?! wow! great job on the challenge :)

  3. You should wear that notch on your culinary belt proudly because this one was a bit of a challenge for sure! Well done to you, your Baklava looks fantastic :)

  4. OH MY GOODNESS! Bacon in baklava! that sounds amazing! I wish I had a creativity bone in my body, everyone has come up with such amazing fillings. I love it!!! Great job!


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