Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Phyllo to Baklava!

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.

Baklava is a dessert made with phyllo dough, nuts, honey, sugar, and butter. The origin of this sweet is hotly contested but the most often claim is that it came out of the Middle Eastern region. This luxurious dessert was once eaten only by the rich. Today Baklava in its many versions are available for all to enjoy or make as is the case this month.

This was to be an interesting challenge as are all the challenges coming from the Daring Baker's. First, I am not usually a fan of Baklava. The commercial version is often way over the top sweet. Second, is sadly my honey cannot eat the nuts. However, I have thought about making my own phyllo but up until now never had the opportunity. I decided, hey why not just change the filling to dried fruit. 

Making the dough proved to be the easiest part. Rolling it out super thin however was a bit of a challenge. But thankfully it did not stick to the counter. The filling was a mixture of raisins, plums, and dates soaked in orange juice then coarse chopped. 

To assemble was simply layering the phyllo sheets brushed with butter in between. Adding the fruit anfter about 6 layers, then repeating. Using a sharp knife precut the Baklava. Into the oven for a slow bake at 350 degrees for one hour. In the meantime, a syrup of sugar, honey, water, ground cloves and a piece of orange rind was combine. Bring this to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. This must cool before the Baklava comes out of the oven. Once out of the oven pour the cooled syrup over the top of the Baklava. The syrup will soak into the Baklava overnight.

I was pleasantly suprised to find that I enjoyed this version very much. My honey enjoyed it as well. We all agreed that it was even better the following day! I shall have to work with this phyllo again! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Favorite Buttermilk Cake

Summer is quickly rolling in and I usually  lean towards lighter desserts that require less baking and preparing time. It's a good opportunity to combine a cool and creamy vanilla bean pastry cream, vanilla whipped cream, and fresh, sweet strawberries. All I needed to make this dessert something special was a really good cake. Then along came the ABC's Baker's challenge for this month: Flo Braker's "Favorite Buttermilk Cake". Perfect!

The ingredients for the cake are:
cake flour, baking powder and soda, salt, buttermilk, vanilla extract, butter, sugar, and eggs. The procedure was quick and easy, welcomed on a hot day. The resulting cake is light, soft and moist. The buttermilk gives this cake a slight tang which I think will go well with many cream or fruit fillings.

I used Flo's recipe for vanilla cream filling under the "Boston Cream Pie" recipe. Milk, sugar, vanilla bean, yolks, flour, and butter. All came together resulting in a wonderful silky smooth vanilla cream. Boy, I could just eat this with a spoon and be very content!

To finish I whipped up some vanilla flavored whipped cream, cleaned and sliced strawberries and all was ready to assemble.

This is a wonderful and versital cake. It cut easily into small circles, and held up in the pastry cream without getting soggy. Can't you just see that wonderful crumb. Can you taste it, isn't it light? Can't? Then maybe you should give it a try for yourself. What will you use for a filling, or topping, or maybe all on it's own? So, very good I am sure you won't be disappointed.

Thank you Hanaa for this challenge!