Daring Bakers: 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.

When I read this, I felt that lump creep up in my throat. Baklava? It’s one of my most favorite of treats. Sweet and sticky with honey, flaky, with a bunch of lovely nuts in between the layers. But gluten-free? I’ve never seen it – and certainly never tried it. One of the keys to those flaky layers in the phyllo dough is that stretchiness in gluten. If there’s no gluten, how do you recreate the stretchiness?

So I googled. I looked for gluten-free phyllo dough. I wasn’t finding much, and not everyone out there in the internet world was successful at making it. This was an elusive thing for sure. But I perservered. I found some instructions on Glutenfreeda.com and opted to try my hand at it.

After I started to roll out my layers, I started to feel more confident. I could roll out pretty thin sheets of dough with success. I rolled each layer on parchment, but as time went on, found that it would peel from plastic wrap even easier than parchment, so I changed to using plastic wrap. One daunting task achieved – I could roll thin dough.

I then made the filling – this was easy. Just a blitz in the food processor and I was ready for the next step.

Then came the assembly. This went well, which further bolstered my confidence. I could peel the dough, layer by layer, brushing with vegan butter in between, layering the nut mixture as well, until I had a completely layered dish. Even cutting the pieces was pretty easy. All that was left was baking and allowing it to sit. And so I did, crossing fingers.

Once it came out of the oven, this was when I was concerned. No flakiness. It looked virtually the same coming out as it did going in – only a wee bit more brown. I went ahead and poured the syrup over and allowed it to sit, hoping for the best.

Unfortunately, the baklava didn’t live up to expectations. The layers were dense. Bordering on gummy and chewy. From far away, it still looked like baklava, but upon closer inspection, it wasn’t. (However, the filling was still delicious, if you peeled off the layer of dough and just ate the filling. Not that I would know or anything.)

So the perfect gluten-free baklava still eludes me. It’s still in my dreams, however. Hopefully someday soon, I’ll muster up the courage to try the phyllo dough again. Thanks to Erica for this challenge – I hope to one day conquer it!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Baklava

Phyllo Dough

½ c sweet white rice flour

1 c sorghum flour

1 c potato starch

½ c tapioca starch

1 T psyllium husks

1 t guar gum

2 large eggs

2/3 c coconut milk

1/3 c water

Whisk together flours, psyllium husks, and guar gum. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, and water. Attach the dough hook to the mixer. Gradually add in the flour, with the machine on low, until the dough is no longer sticky. (add additional tapioca starch as needed) Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 2 hours.

Remove the dough from the bowl and cut it into 8 equal pieces. Cut 8 pieces of parchment paper at least 10 inches wide. Using generous amounts of tapioca starch, roll each piece of dough onto a piece of parchment paper until it measures at least 10 inches by 6 inches, making sure the thickness is fairly uniform. You want it as thin as possible without breaking. Repeat with each piece of dough. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap to keep from drying out.

Filling

2 t cinnamon

1/8 t allspice

¾ c almonds

¾ c walnuts

¾ c pistachios

2/3 c pitted Medjool dates

Pinch salt

½ c combination of melted ghee and melted vegan butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cinnamon, allspice, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, dates, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times until nuts and dates are finely chopped (but not turned into dust).

Trim your phyllo sheets to fit your pan by setting the pan on top of each sheet, and using a pizza cutter or knife, cut around the pan. Brush melted ghee/vegan butter inside the pan along the bottom and sides. Carefully peel a piece of phyllo dough (I used a thin, flexible spatula to help me) and place in the bottom of the pan. Brush with “butter” and peel another piece of phyllo dough, placing it over the first. Brush with “butter” again.

Place 1/3 of the nut filling evenly over the dough in the pan. Add another 2 layers of phyllo dough, followed by “butter” on top of each. Add another 1/3 of the nut filling. Add another 2 layers of the phyllo dough followed by “butter” on top of each, the final 1/3 of the filling, and finish with the last 2 layers of phyllo dough, followed by “butter” on top of each. Tuck down any edges that are flipping up on the sides of the pan with a spatula so that the top looks neat.

Using a knife, carefully cut the baklava into pieces as desired. Brush one last time with “butter”, making sure you get it covered completely.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, make syrup.

Syrup

1 ½ c honey

1 cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

1 2-inch piece lemon peel

¼ c water

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove cinnamon, cloves, and lemon peel.

 When the baklava is finished baking, cut again all the way through. Pour the syrup evenly over all of the baklava. Allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, cover and allow to sit overnight to allow syrup to absorb.

Serve at room temperature.

Comments

  1. says

    Congrats on trying a super hard challenge! I’m sorry that it didn’t work out..it’s always sad to put so much effort it and then feel so “meh” about the end result. I really admire your attempt though!

  2. says

    Alta, I wish I’d known that you were attempting gf baklava, I would have pointed you to Dimitrios Douros who makes amazing gf baklava. He even has a YouTube video on it. He used to make big pans of baklava (and spanikopita) and bring them to the meetings of the large GIG group I belong to. He lives elsewhere now, but is still well known for his baklava. Here’s the link to his video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkkfrjKb8H8

    And great job on your efforts still!
    Shirley

  3. says

    I think your baklava looks fantastic, even if it didn’t end up being the flaky baklava you were after. But great job on the attempt! And you did an excellent job rolling it so thin!!

  4. says

    That’s too bad. Gluten free really can be tough sometimes when trying to find recipes that replicate the same recipe as one with gluten. At least the filling was edible! Nice job on the challenge!

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