Thursday, January 6, 2011

Greek Pastries

I work at Kafeneio (ka- (like in cat), fuh-knee-o), a Greek coffee shop that opened up in Salt Lake a little more than a month ago. How is a Greek coffee shop different than a regular neighborhood coffee shop? Mostly it's just that we have cute/dorky Greek god- and goddess-named lattes (like "Hera's Temper" or "Hermes' Wings"). But we also sell Greek coffee, which is the same as Turkish coffee, if you've had that: made in an ibrik (or briki) served with the grounds in the bottom. Old greeks still tell their fortunes with the grounds, similar to reading tea leaves.

Our briki

But the best part is that my boss, a very nice Greek lady, makes Greek pastries here in the shop. And yesterday she let me help her.

We made pasta flora, a simple pastry with apricot or strawberry jam covered in a lattice design. Then galaktoboureko, my favorite, a lemony custard wrapped in phyllo and topped with a honey lemon syrup and cinnamon.

Galaktoboureko (picture from Closet Cooking, a blog I like a lot).

But the best was making baklava. Easy but time consuming, baklava is layers and layers (and layers. I think the one I did last night had about forty) of flaky phyllo pastry, butter, and nuts. After baking, it's smothered in an orange and clove flavored syrup. Delicious!

The recipe:

2-3 lbs nuts (we used 2 lbs walnuts and 1 lb pecans)
1 C sugar
2 T brown sugar
2 T cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
1 t nutmeg
1 t ground cloves
1/2 t mace
one package phyllo sheets
lots and lots of melted butter
whole cloves

For the syrup:
2 C sugar
3 C water
1 t lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
6-10 cloves
orange peels

1) Crush the nuts in a food processor. Don't break them up into a powder- you want it crumbly. In a big bowl, combine nuts, sugars, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and mace. Separate the mixture into thirds and set aside.

2) Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 11 baking pan put the phyllo in, one sheet at a time, and butter between each layer with a pastry brush. After 12-15 layers of phyllo, add the first third of the nuts, spreading in an even layer. Layer more phyllo on top- 6 layers or so, still buttering between the layers- and then do another layer of nuts. Six more layers, and the third and final layer of nuts. Use the remaining phyllo for the top of the baklava. Butter the top layer.

3) With a sharp knife, carefully cut the baklava into vertical strips about 1 inch wide. Be sure to cut to the bottom of the pan. Then cut the strips diagonally, again about 1-inch wide, to form small diamond-shaped pieces. Stick a whole clove in the center of each piece.

4) Bake in an oven warmed to 325 degrees for about an hour, until golden brown.

5) While baking, prepare the syrup: boil all the ingredients for 20-25 mins, stirring constantly. When thick and sticky, remove from heat. Remove and discard cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel.

6) Pour syrup over the baklava and put it back in the oven to bake for 5-10 minutes.

7) Let cool completely before serving.

The good thing about baklava is that it will last forever. It doesn't have to be refrigerated, and just gets better the longer that the flavors sit and mix together.

1 comment:

  1. Mmmmm I don't think that baklava would last long enough in my house to taste any better than it does RIGHT NOW. Yum!