Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Baklava is a popular sweet pastry in Middle Eastern Persian, Arab , Turkish, Greek, and Albanian cuisines. It consists of ground and finely chopped walnuts or pistachios between sheets of filo pastry, soaked in a sugary solution which is made mostly of sugar and may contain either lemon juice or honey and spices with rosewater, and is either cut into small squares or rolled and cut into circular slices. As with any food, there are regional variations in the recipe with the most common ones being the syrup recipe and whether or not it contains honey.
It is widely believed that the Anatolians in the 8th century BC created baklava, The Greek seamen and merchants traveling east soon discovered the delights of Baklava. It awestruck their taste buds. They brought the recipe to Athens. The Greeks' major contribution to the development of this pastry is the creation of a dough technique that made it possible to roll it as thin as a leaf, compared to the rough, bread-like texture of the Anatolian dough. In fact, the name "Phyllo" was coined by Greeks, which means "leaf" in the Greek language. The word itself is ultimately derived from baklavi, which is Arabic for nuts.
If layering in a baking dish, layer and butter 1/2 box of phyllo sheets (approx. 12 to 13 sheets), then top with a mixture of ground nuts and a little sugar (and cinnamon, for variation, if desired). Walnuts or pistachios are used most often sometimes with a combination of almonds, and pecans. After the nut mixture has been spread evenly across the phyllo, layer and butter the remaining 1/2 box of phyllo (again, about 12 to 13 sheets). After completion, cut baklava (before baking) with a sharp knife into diamonds (traditional in Lebanese cuisine) or squares.
If rolling, butter 5 individual sheets of phyllo, then place nut mixture along 1 side of the phyllo and proceed to roll up like a tight log. Once rolled, cut the log on the diagonal into about 12 to 13 pieces. (Do not cut all the way through until after the baklava is baked.) For easier handling, the logs can be frozen for 10 to 15 minutes to firm them up.
Whether using the pan or rolled technique, the procedure is the same after the baklava is baked. Pour on the syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled to a syrup consistency and then mixed with either a small amount of lemon juice or honey, cinnamon and cloves). Stays fresh a good while. Freezes well.
Because of its high sugar content, baklava is extremely rich.
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