I recently took a Greek Cooking class through Living Social. If you are not familiar with Living Social, you need to be. Living Social offers "things" (sorry dad, I know how much you hate that word) at a discount. For example, I've taken two cooking classes (brunch and Greek), a Kimchi demonstration class (showed me how to make Kimchi), a wine and paint class where we got two glasses of wine and painted a flower. I'm not an artist, I’m more of a crafter, so I wouldn’t do that again, but it was a great girl’s night. I also got a discounted Tough Mudder ticket (wohoo!!). I've ordered iPhone cases, skydiving experiences, 3 course dinners, tubing trips, the list goes on. Check out Living Social to find discounts in your area, it really is a great way to enjoy your city at a discount.
Any who, in the class I learned how to make VERY VERY good food, baklava, lamb kabobs, tzatziki, Greek green beans, and spanakopita. The way that the class is set up is it's two people per cooking station, my mom paired up with her friend, and I lucked out at got the whole station to myself. I also didn't have to share my spanakopita or lamb kabobs (nom nom nom). Since I wasn’t a big fan of the baklava (too much rose water for my taste) I figured I would just share it with my coworkers. They are pretty cool. The baklava was a HIT at work; I knew that's what I would be making for the next potluck...of course with a few updates to my liking :).
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 LB finely chopped walnuts (bought a bag already chopped)
1/3 cup sugar
2 T cinnamon
3 sticks of unsalted butter
1. Thaw fillo dough per directions (about 2 hours)
2. Sugar Syrup: in a saucepan, boil sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. Turn off burner and let cool until ready to use
*The class added 4 teaspoons of rose water, I am not a fan. I read another recipe that cooked a cinnamon stick in this syrup. I’ll try using the cinnamon stick next time
3. Clarify butter: you can either buy it already clarified (I was told Whole Foods) or make. Clarify butter by cutting butter stick into smaller pieces and melting in a pan over gentle heat. Once the butter is melted spoon off the milky froth that rises to the top and discard; once clarified put on low heat till ready to use
*You may need more butter depending on how much you use between layers. I used 3 sticks and had about 3/4 C left. I think 2.5 sticks would be perfect. You can always clarify more butter
4. Filling: pour walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix. The walnuts were not as finely chopped, as I would have liked so I used a bullet blender to chop them up more finely. Set aside
*can add 4 teaspoons of rose water to the filling mixture. I will try this next time along with using 1/2 cup of sugar instead of 1/3 cup of sugar
5. Spread a sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface (only needed on sheet the size of 9 x13 baking dish. Open fillo dough and unroll it on the surface. Cover with wax paper (I used the paper wrapped around the fillo dough) and then a dampened towel to keep fillo from drying out
6. Butter your pan using a pastry brush, I used a 9 x 13 lasagna pan and it was perfect for the size of the fillo. Place a sheet of fillo on the bottom of the buttered pan, paint clarified butter over fillo sheet and repeat. If the fillo dough sheet is bigger than your pan, no worries, just place fillo in pan, paint with butter, fold over excess so fillo fits pan, paint butter on the folded over pieces, repeat.
*I had 7 fillo layers on the bottom 4 in the middle and the rest on top. I think 10 fillo layers on the bottom, filling, and 10 fillo on top would be perfect.
7. Once you have your bottom fillo layers done, spread the filling over the dough in an even layer. Repeat layering and buttering with the remaining fillo.
8. When all the fillo has been used, cut the pastry. Be sure to cut right down through to the bottom of the pan. Maybe even use a pizza roller after you cut to make sure you have cut every layer.
9. Bake for 35 minutes at 350; if you need it a little longer so the color is right go ahead.
*Be sure to watch it towards the end, the original recipe said to bake at 350 for 30 minutes and then at 425 for 10 minutes after. I cooked it for 5 at 425 and it was burned, tasted good, but was burned.
10. Pour the sugar syrup over the baklava.
*I would wait a few minutes. When I poured the mixture immediately after I pulled it out of the oven, the syrup started boiling and then crystallized at the bottom.
I will be making this again with the noted changes.
If you make it let me know how it turns out!