If I were to ask you to list what Greek dishes I kept getting requests or searches on the blog for, Baklava would be included. Baklava may not necessarily have been spawned in Greece but it’s been certainly embraced by Greeks and it appears on menus, offered/made in most (if not all) Greek homes and certainly always available at Greek patisseries.
The varieties of Baklava differ from country to country and even from home to home. A whole book featuring just Baklava recipes could be published! Differing ways to layer the phyllo, olive oil or but (or both) for brushing the phyllo, differing fillings with either walnuts, almonds or pistachios being used, the inclusion of dried fruits even make their way into Baklava.
This in depth recipe comes from Chef Sotiris Evangelou and he calls this offering “Medley of Thessalonikean Delights”. The making and offering of Baklava is not exclusive to the city of Thessaloniki but the city is known for it’s rich cuisine, always presented with panache and little culinary surprises. I think that’s why Evangelou dedicated this stunning tray of varying Baklava-type treats – it’s dramatic, an eye-catcher and one that would make a splash upon presentation as a host/hostess gift or for your family and friends.
The Medley of Thessalonikean Delights requires two packages of phyllo, a batch of syrup, a round baking tray, spices, sugar, dried prunes and an array of nuts for the filling. The Medley is comprised of four different variations of Baklava: the Saragli, the Pouro (cigar), the Horseshoes and the Mantilaki (a pouch made of Phyllo).
Being organized, confident in your handling of phyllo pastry and a desire to share your kitchen creations are your last remaining ingredients to make The Medley. Enough chit-chat, let’s head into the kitchen!
Medley of Thessalonikean Delights (ποικιλια απο θεσσαλονικιώτικες Απολαυσεις)
For the Syrup
2 1/2 cups of sugar
2 1/2 cups of water
3-4 strips of orange peel
2 strips of lemon peel
1 cinnamon stick
3-5 whole cloves
For the Baklava Medley
1 round baking 38cm/15in. in diameter
2 packages of 450 gr. phyllo (thawed overnight in your fridge)
1 lb. of butter, clarified
Filling for Saragli and Cigars
3/4 cup chopped almonds
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 Tbsp. sugar
Filling for Horseshoes
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 Tbsp. sugar
Filling for the Mantilakia (plural)
1/2 cup chopped (unsalted & shelled) pistachios
4 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped prunes
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
- First order of business is making the syrup. When one make these Greek desserts involving syrup, either the syrup has to be hot, the baked item cold or vice-versa. In this case, we are making the syrup first so that it has plenty of time to cool in time for when the baked phyllo is out of the oven. In a medium-sized pot, add your water, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, orange and lemon peels. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 8 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool (remove spices & peels).
- To clarify your butter, add it to a pot and melt over medium heat. Once melted, take off the heat and allow to cool completely. Place in the fridge and allow to harden. Your clarified butter has hardened on the top and the why and water are in the bottom. Poke a hole and carefully drain-off and discard the water/why. What you have left is clarified butter.
- Now let’s prepare our fillings: the first batch will be used to fill the Saragli and the cigar-type Baklavas. Add all the ingredients (walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, cl0ve) in a food processor and pulse until a course ground. Transfer to a bowl and add the sugar and mix with a spoon. In another bowl, mix the sesame seeds with the cinnamon, clove and sugar and mix with a spoon and set aside. Now make the Mantilaki filling by adding the pistachios, cinnamon and cloves in the food processor and pulse until a coarse ground. Transfer to another bowl and add the sugar, sesame and chopped prunes and mix with a spoon and set aside.
- Place your clarified butter on the stove-top and melt over medium heat, keep warm. Assuming that you have thawed your phyllo overnight in your fridge, take out one package and allow to come to room temperature (15 minutes).
- To make the Saragli, brush your round baking tray (tapsi) with some butter and lay out a sheet of phyllo on your work surface and butter it Spread about 3 Tbsps. of filling over the phyllo and then top with another sheet of phyllo and butter it. Fold-in the outer edges and form into a roll. Now repeat the previous operation to form another roll (second roll). Butter a fifth sheet and place the two completed rolls alongside each other at the bottom of the fifth phyllo sheet. Now tightly roll-up the phyllo with the rolls in the center then cut the Saragli (pinwheels) into equal portions and place flat in the outer part of the pan. Repeat until you’ve completed a the circle of Saragli.
- For the cigars, you will need a thin wooden dowel, about a foot long. Butter the wooden dowel and then butter a sheet of phyllo followed by another sheet on top and butter it. Sprinkle the area with the filling (same as Saragli) and top with another sheet of phyllo and butter it as well. Now roll the sheets of phyllo tightly around the wooden dowel and then place set the dowel vertically on your work surface and slide the phyllo down and off the dowel. Cut the cylindrical shaped phyllo into equal-sized cigars and line the baking tray beside the Saragli. Repeat until you’ve competed a circle of phyllo cigars.
- At this point. you will have to take out your second package of phyllo from the fridge and again allow to come to room temperature. We are now going to be using the sesame seed filling. Lay a sheet of phyllo down and butter it then spread some sesame seed mixture over it and fold it in half. Now butter another phyllo sheet and fold it in half and place on top of the folded phyllo with filling. Now butter a third sheet and place two previously folded phyllos on top and roll into a taut cylinder and cut into three equal portions. Bend each portion into a horseshoe shape and place in your tray beside the cigars. Repeat until a circle of horseshoes has been completed. At his point, pre-heat your oven to 350F, middle rack position.
- For the Mandilaki, we’re using the filling with the prunes and pistachios. Now butter each sheet of phyllo (total of four) and layer them one on top of the other. Now cut into 6 squares, spoon the filling into the middle of each square and fold-up each flap towards the center to form a pouch. Place in the remaining space in the middle of the pan.
- Now brush the tops of your Medley of Baklava treats with the remaining butter and place in your pre-heated oven for about 35-40 minutes or until golden. Using a ladle, evenly pour the cooled syrup over the hot phyllo and allow to come to room temperature. Serve room temperature or store covered in a cool, dry spot for up to a week (never place in fridge).
- Serve with a Greek coffee and cold glass of water.
More Baklava-type desserts:
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