Baklava is a cross-cultural phenomenon. It’s commonly regarded as a Greek pastry, but accepted as Turkish in origin, and its ancient progenitors are said to be Assyrian. So then why, in America, in this modern age, is eating this pastry a lamentable experience? One reason is also one of this recipe’s main ingredients: butter.
Butter has a lot of fat, but it also contains milk solids and water. Usually these residual ingredients are welcome flavor bonuses, but in certain rare applications, such as baklava, these extras become more nuisance than nuance, causing the pastry to brown unevenly. The best way to avoid this is to clarify the butter. Baklava made by brushing clarified butter on the layers of phyllo colored uniformly, had a cleaner, sweeter flavor, and cooked up flakier and crisper. So crispy, in fact, that we cut this gem of a dessert into diamonds before baking.
1. Cut the butter into 1-inch chunks, then melt it slowly in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the milk solids have separated from the butterfat and collected on the bottom of the saucepan, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, let the butter settle for 10 minutes, then carefully skim the foam from the surface with a spoon.
2. When all of the foam has been removed, slowly pour the clear butterfat into a bowl, leaving all the milk solids behind in the saucepan.
TIPS WHEN MAKING BAKLAVA
1. Before baking, slice the baklava into diamonds using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion.
2. Immediately after removing the baked baklava from the oven, pour all but 2 tablespoons of cooled sugar syrup over the cut lines of the baked baklava, and then drizzle the remaining syrup over the entire surface.
3. Garnish each piece of baklava with chopped nuts, then let the baklava cool for 3 hours and then allow to sit at room temperature (covered with foil) for 8 hours before serving.
Want to try for yourself? Check out our Baklava recipe free through October 25th.