I wrote earlier this week about making baklava bites for a recipe swap today, and they turned out so cute… I had to take a few pictures. They really do taste as good as they look! For information on the original recipe, and the adaptations I make to it, see my earlier post: Look What I Bought!
I do want to add a few words about working with phyllo dough: for some reason, phyllo intimidates people. This is probably due to the fact that phyllo can be a little fragile, especially when you are stacking the paper-thin sheets on top of one another and buttering them, as in this recipe. The first sheet is always the hardest.
I try to remember that I am my own kitchen boss, and if one of the phyllo sheets cracks or bunches up on itself, honestly, no one will ever know. Guests are going to be concentrating on the great flavors in this baklava, not on the perfection (or lack thereof) of the phyllo layers. The key is to work quickly and steadily, so that the phyllo doesn’t get too dry or brittle.
I also trying to think of making a bed when I prepare any dish that requires layered phyllo dough. I know, it sounds odd, but think of putting a flat sheet on a bed — first, straightening it in the air, and then bringing it down to the mattress to smooth it out and keep wrinkles at bay. I use a similar process with phyllo — I separate a single sheet from the roll and bring it gently into the air up over the existing stack (and my work surface), then I bring it gently down over the layers and allow the top edge of the rectangle of phyllo to just “catch” the last buttered layer as I lay the rest down on top. Straighten the new layer of phyllo as you would a bed sheet.
It really works, just don’t fiddle with it too much! Butter it with a pastry brush, and move on to the next layer!
I find that I don’t even need to use a wet towel if I move quickly enough.