Definitely an easy way to make baklava without fussing with phyllo sheets. Even better the next day, if there is any left!
Servings: 25 piecesPrep Time: 15 minutes plus 1 hour refrigeration time Cook Time: 35 minutes
For the Dough
3 cups flour (15 oz / 465 g)
8 oz / 250 g butter or margarine, cut into small pieces
1 cup (7 oz / 200 g ) sour cream mixed with 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
2 egg yolks
For the Filling
2 cups sugar
2 egg whites
2 ½ cups (10 oz / 300 g) walnuts, finely chopped (they should be somewhat crunchy in the pie, so do not grind finely)
1 egg yolk
YOU WILL NEED: 8 x 12-inch (20 x 30 cm) baking pan. If a rectangular pan is not available, use a round or a square pan. Non-stick is preferable.
TIP: If you are counting calories and prefer a less sweeter baklava, reduce the amount of sugar for the filling and increase the amount of walnuts , if desired. Or, you do not have to have more walnuts either if you prefer less filling in your pastry.
1. Prepare the dough. In a large bowl, combine flour and butter. Using a fork, or a knife (or pastry blender, if available), cut in the butter until the mixture forms large crumbs the size of large peas.
2. Add sour cream/baking soda mixture and egg yolks and continue tossing until the dough comes together in a mass (See the picture below). It should be gentle to touch.
3. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts, forming each one into disks. Wrap each disk in a plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
4. In the meantime, prepare the filling. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and egg whites. Using a balloon whisk or electric mixer, whip vigorously until well blended. Add chopped walnuts and mix well with a spoon.
5. Lightly grease the baking pan with oil or butter. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Using a rolling pin (I used ball-bearing rolling pin, and it was great!), press firmly to roll the dough from the center in all directions until you obtain a rectangular (or round, if you are going to use a round baking pan) about 8 inches (20 cm) in width and about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, or just the size to fit your pan. I found this pastry dough very easy to handle – it rolled in no time for me.
7. Carefully transfer the round into the pan, pressing it against the bottom and the sides. Baklava releases juices when baking, so slightly stretching the dough to the sides and sealing them tightly will keep the juices inside. If there is any tear in the dough, repair by pressing a small piece of dough over it.
8. Spread half the filling over the layer.
9. Roll the second disk in the same way and place it in the pan on top of the walnut filling. Spread the remaining filling over the second layer.
10. Roll the third dough disk and place it on top of the walnut filling. Brush this layer with egg yolk. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter (it worked wonders for me!), carefully cut the baklava in cross-hatching diagonals to make diamond shapes, cutting through the filling all the way to the bottom. Place a whole or half a walnut in the middle of each baklava piece.
11. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes or until golden on top. Times may vary, so take extra care not to overbake – baklava will harden and will not be that juicy if baked for too long. Remove the pan from the oven. When cool enough to handle, remove the baklava diamonds from the pan and serve with tea or coffee. Baklava gets even softer when stored in a covered container. Enjoy!
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