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Sunday, March 02, 2014

Algerian Baklava

For The Dough

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups tepid water
1/4 cup olive oil


Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl and add the water with oil.

Stir until forms soft dough, then knead in the bowl about 10 minutes.

Dough will feel sticky at first, but kneading, it should develop into a dough that becomes smooth and satiny.

When well mixed and smooth, wrap pastry in plastic wrap and leave it to rest at room temperature about one hour.

If not all the dough is being used right away, wrap the unused portion and keep chilled in the fridge up to a week.

Always bring to room temp before using.

Divide the pastry into 12 equal portions, shaping them into smooth balls.

Cover with a cloth, except the one you're working with.

Take a ball of dough, and shape it into a square.

Place it on a lightly floured surface, and roll into a 6 inch square using rolling pin, (or pass through a pasta roller until thin.)

Dust again with flour.


18 ounces chopped nuts, use almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts (your choice)
128 g granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
2 teaspoons melted ghee
155 ml orange flower water (mazhar)

For the Syrup

310-620 ml honey
155-310 ml orange flower water
310 ml extra of melted ghee, to brush the pastry with and enough whole nuts to decorate each piece of baklava.

In a saucepan, melt the ghee on a medium heat. Brush a tray with ghee using the pastry brush.
Lay a first strip of phyllo pastry vertically in the center of the tray. Brush the pastry with the melted ghee.
Repeat the dough rolling process. Cover the tray with phyllo, remembering to brush with ghee after each strip. You should be able to do this with 5 strips.

Turn the tray round so that you're placing the phyllo strips horizontally over vertical strips. This crisscross is very important.

Continue rolling the pastry and layering the tray. Brushing with the ghee after each strip, continue doing this until you have done 5 layers.

To prepare the nut filling. With a food processor and chop up the nuts.

Place the nuts in a mixing bowl and add the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla powder and mazhar - enough mazhar to make the filling to just form a smooth ball.

Place filling in the tray over the pastry, gently smoothing it out - but don't press it.

Repeat the dough rolling, layer, until you have 6 layers, brushing with the ghee.

When you've finished the 5th layer you can choose to do the top layer. Roll out one large sheet by hand.

If you want to try rolling out a sheet, remember to cover the dough, rolling pin, surface, your hands  etcetera in loads of corn flour. Then roll out the tray size, plus 2cm extra.

Now you need to cut the baklava and decorate.

Take your knife and cut vertical straight lines all the way to the bottom. (Approx. 2cm apart) then spin the tray round and cut more lines, diagonally to form diamond shapes. You can also make squares or triangles, but traditional Algerian baklava are diamonds, you may want to push a whole nut into each shape.

Brush well with the ghee and place in a pre-heated oven at 180 c for 1 hour - 1 hour 10 minutes.

The baklava should be golden and now needs it syrup: Warm the honey and mazhar in the saucepan then pour slowly over the baklava.

Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then cut out pieces and place in paper cases - preferably the metallic ones as they hold the syrup better.