Troubleshooting a soggy baklava with torn sheets

middle-eastern-cuisinepastryturkish-cuisine

I've attempted to make Baklava just once in my life and the results were pretty disasterous.

Some issues I have questions about when making the Baklava:

  • How to handle the Phyllos dough sheets? These sheets were so thin and delicate that I inadvertently crumpled or ripped about half of them with my big meaty fingers. Is there a trick to holding them for some of the clumsier people? i just grabbed it by its corners but I usually ended up ripping off these said corners.
  • How to handle the butter? The recipe didn't specifically mention what state the butter should be. Should the butter be really melted so that it thoroughly soaks into the phyllos or should it be just barely melted so that I can spread them on the sheets. Also when adding the butter, I always seemed to inadvertantly crumple up the sheets below it. How can I apply the butter without messing up the bottom layers?
  • When I poured the syrup into the baked Baklava, all the syrup seemed to flow to the bottom and made the bottom way too soggy and goopy. This made it hard to cut and separate into individual pieces. (I ended up eating it almost like a pie) Did I do something wrong?

And finally, the whole layering, buttering, and adding the nuts took me over an hour. Are there general tricks to that will allow me to make Baklava faster?

Best Answer

1- To work with phyllo or yufka sheets the key is to keep them from drying out. A damp, but not dripping, towel laid over the sheets is essential. Cover it after each time you take out a sheet. They dry out very fast and then just disintegrate.

2- The butter should be melted but not hot. Many recipes call for it to be clarified as well but I don't personally notice a difference in baklava so I skip that step. Its main purpose, besides flavor, is to keep the layers separate during baking. You don't have to spread it or work it in. Just brush it on gently.

3- The baklava is cut into diamonds, almost all the way through, before baking it. It can't be cut after it is baked and crisped. If it is cut all the way through before baking then it will pull itself apart. Pouring the syrup evenly over the whole thing will help. The top layers will soak up some but will definitely be drier than the bottom. It is supposed to be sticky and syrupy on the bottom- that's pretty much the whole point. The soaked pastry should still be chewy and distinct. Not crisp necessarily but candied. If it is too soggy then you might not have baked it long enough.

4- You can get faster at it with practice but not too much faster. It is a long process but it is fun to do with help. We make it as a family.