Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Baklava Muffins with Mini Baklava Fingers

Baklava Muffins
Home Cooking


This is how irrational thinking works: I'd promised myself not to bake anymore this week due to an explosive episode of non-stop baking (I have the blog posts to prove it).

Early this morning, I was convinced I could keep it up.

Late in the afternoon, I was still hanging in there. I figured that tonight, my sweet tooth would be satisfied by the dark chocolate mousse sitting in the fridge. Everything appeared to be going to plan.

By 5pm, I decided to bake a small batch of scones to have with cream, jam and tea. The idea was that scones are so basic and easy that they're not even 'counted' as proper baking.

I asked Charlie if it was OK and he gave me the green light to fix up some scones.

Somehow, at this point I got distracted. I was looking for the scone recipe in my book and instead settled on the page with the baklava muffins.

I know I say this a lot about many different things but baklava is right up there on my list of foods that I love. Indeed I can't eat too much at a time since it's almost painfully sweet (and when it's not that sweet, it's no good) but what I do have goes down well.

Again this recipe is from Nigellas "How to be a Domestic Goddess" and it worked out famously. You make a muffin butter and a baklava-inspired filling. I halved the recipe to make 5 muffins. Since I had some excess nut filling mix, I made my own baklava finger. I winged that part without a recipe and it was absolutely delicious. I'll give some directions on that if you're keen to try for yourself.

Baklava Muffins
Makes 5 (I used a large cup-cake tray which is essentially the same as a small muffin tray)

Ingredients:

For the filling
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/6 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tbsp butter, melted

For the muffins
  • 1/2 cup plus 3.5 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 cup (just half a quarter cup) sugar
  • 1/2 large egg (this was a bit awkward but I beat 1 egg and used half of it)
  • 1.5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp buttermilk (Nigella says you can substitute with 1/3 heaped cup of plain yogurt and 1/6 cup of low-fat milk... which is what I did)
For the topping
  • approx 1/4 cup honey
Procedure:

1. Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line your muffin pan with paper cups.
2. Make the filling first by mixing all the ingredients for the filling in a small bowl.3. In a large bowl, mix together: flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar.
4. In a wide-mouthed measuring cup, whisk the egg, melted butter and buttermilk (or yogurt-milk mix).
5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid.
6. Mix lightly and gently. It doesn't matter if your mix still has a few lumps and bumps - it's more important that you don't over-mix because that makes the muffin heavy.7. Fill the muffin cups to 1/3 (I used 2 spoons for this) and then spoon some of the filling into the centre. Cover with more muffin mix until 2/3 full.8. Nigella suggests sprinkling excess filling on the top of the muffins. I did that for one of mine and used the rest to make my baklava.
9. Bake for 15min until golden brown on top.10.Turn onto a rack and drizzle with honey. You can warm the honey first to make it easier to pour.
Toppings include: baklava chunks, walnuts and muffin filling mix (spread on before baking)
Inside of the muffins

Baklava finger
Makes 1 (quantities don't need to be precise so you can easily make more by making more filling and using more pastry)

Ingredients:
  • Excess filling from above (or make up some more with the same quantities)
  • Approx 1-2 tbsp molten butter
  • 1-2 sheets of filo pastry
Procedure:

1. Lay out 1 sheet of filo pastry on a clean plate or board.
2. Moisten one end with melted butter.
3. Spread on an adequate amount of the nut/cinnamon mix.
4. Roll that part of the filo pastry over to enclose the cinnamon mix. It should seal down because you made it nice and moist with butter.
5. A new area of filo pastry should be exposed now. Again, paint on some butter and filling mix. Fold it over to seal down.
6. Keep repeating until the filo pastry is completely used up. If you want to make a fatter finger, keep rolling with another sheet of filo (as long as you have enough filling). You should end up with a nice, thin, wet log. Don't make it too fat or it may be difficult to cool. If it's really long, cut it into 10cm fingers.
7. Grill on the top rack of your oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 5min. Turn and then cook for another 5min. It should end up sticky and crispy at the same time. I simply popped mine on the top rack above my muffins while they were cooking so that everything was done at the same time. It burns if you're not watching though so keep your eye on the pastry and whip it out as soon as it goes golden.
Note: You can make the baklava more authentic with the addition of rosewater, pistachio etc but it tastes fine made with the walnut and cinnamon filling. I had been put off making baklava in the past because I imagined it to be fiddly and difficult. It's not at all hard to make these baklava fingers so if you have been curious about them, give it a go.

I cut my baklava finger into small, bite-sized pieces and served with (and on) my muffins. You can drizzle some honey on but I thought they were sweet and sticky enough as is.Overall, I thought this baking experiment (though unplanned) was very successful. I've never cooked anything with buttermilk before so I can't make the relavent comparison but I did notice that these muffins were uniquely soft, moist and creamy. I attribute this to the addition of yogurt so if buttermilk has the same effect, it is something I will be using more of in the future. Additionally, I managed to make one of my favorite dessert items so I'm ecstatic.

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