Monday, June 27, 2011

Homemade Phyllo Dough and Baklava!

This month's Daring Baker's challenge was simply too good to pass up. Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge.  Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava. The Recipe can be found here.

Good Baklava is fantastic - but finding good baklava is often a challenge in Southern Oregon. So the opportunity to make it for the Daring Baker's challenge was simply too enticing to pass up. Besides, the opportunity to make phyllo is intriguing--I've been looking for a good reason to try my hand at phyllo and this was that opportunity.

So I set about making the homemade phyllo and baklava. The hardest part was simply finding an appropriate dowel to roll out the baklava with. The reason it was hard was that I didn't want to drive into town to the hardware store and had to find something at the general store that would work. I finally found a short pipe that with the benefit of a saw - would do the trick.

While the video makes it seem supremely easy to roll the dough onto the pipe/dowel, the reality is not quite that simple. Whenever I tried it, I ended up wrinkling the dough -- now crinkled fabric is pretty -- but it's not quite the look I was going for in my phyllo. So I ended up rolling it out in the beginning and end, but tried to roll it up on the dowel in the middle. Clearly, I have more technique to perfect, and used the final rolls to flatten it out as best I could.

Baklava itself though, is extremely simple to make. Just nuts a few spices and a food processor. Then patiently assembling the whole deal (imagine a lasagna). Cut it, pop it in the oven, and then start the syrup. Recut it, finish baking, an pour the syrup over the whole thing. There is a scary moment or two when you're pouring the syrup over and it looks like the whole thing may float away -- but it absorbs the initial onslaught quickly, and that's the magic of baklava.

So here we have it - baklava waiting for 24 hours to pass and the first taste to pass our lips -- it's gonna be good. :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Daring Baker's Challenge: Meringue Filled Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

After an absence of far too long, the Daring Baker's Challenge this month was too good to pass up. A Yeasted Meringue Filled Coffee Cake. Yum! That coupled with the return of my stand mixer (which broke on Thanksgiving) from KitchenAid*, and it seemed like the perfect way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.

I opted to make Jamie’s All-American versions with cinnamon, chopped pecans and chocolate chips or chopped chocolate - it simply sounded too good to be true. While the recipe was fun to make, the results were less than amazing. We certainly won't be making this again, but rejoining the Daring Baker's Challenge was fun.

*Here's the backstory on the mixer in case you missed the saga...the mixer decided it didn't want to mix anymore on Thanksgiving while I was making the rolls. Happily, it was still under warranty, but apparently the pretty blue version I have isn't popular-and they usually send you a new/repaired one and you send them yours. But since I wanted to keep the blue version it took quite a while to negotiate me sending it to them, them repairing it and sending it back. But KitchenAid honored the warranty and took care of everything free of charge. And it now runs better than ever. Yea KitchenAid!