18 April 2011

Birthday Baklava

A few months before I turned 30, I made a list of "30 Things I Want to Do Before I Turn 30". I numbered to 30 down the page, carefully circling each number. I wrote a first entry: "Make Baklava".

I never wrote anything else on the list.

Dawn my 30th birthday. I haven't made baklava yet. I do have a recipe. And phyllo dough. What I don't have is pistachios and enough butter. I make a run to the store. I know I'm not going to get the baklava in the oven before 11:27 am (the time I was born). When I get home my husband is fiddling with the microwave--he's turned the clock back a few hours to give me more time to meet my goal. Sweet.

Another delay. I could only get pistachios in the shell. We spend about 10 minutes shelling 1 pound of nuts.

Yet another delay. No food processor to crush them in. I painstakingly clean out our coffee grinder and process the pistachios in miniscule batches until they're all chopped nicely. I add 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon, and set them aside.

I melt a stick of butter with 1/4 cup canola oil.

Assembly time! The first five layers of phyllo dough get just butter brushed in between them. Then I start layering them with butter and nuts until I've used all but the last five layers. I don't trim the sheets, just alternate which side of the pan I fold the excess over on. The top five layers get just butter again.

Next I score the baklava into diamonds (and triangles at the edges), and sprinkle a little nut dust in the middle of each piece. As I'm doing this, I realize that the nuts will probably burn while baking and I should wait until after the syrup is poured on, but it's too late now.

The pan goes into the oven at 325F for one hour. While it bakes I prepare the syrup: 1/2 cup water with one cup sugar. Bring this mixture to a boil and boil, stirring, for 5 minutes. Let cool.

When the baklava finally comes out, the cooled syrup gets poured over it. I dust with some fresh pistachios. Viola! Birthday Baklava! Too bad I have to let it cool before tasting.

Cook's Word: This was actually fairly simple and fun to make. I might skip the pistachio shelling next time and just use walnuts, but for such a special occasion, I'm glad I chose the better nut. =) If you like a more syrup-y baklava, just increase the amount of syrup. The friend I got my recipe from prefers to use the proportions I've used here, and I think that's a good idea.

1 comment:

  1. the best part of this story is your list! and the sweet husband turning back time :)