Growing up in Croatia, Baklava was quite popular because of Bosnian neighborhood. Therefore Baklava was the only one among this kind of sweets that I was preparing for years, or better said “trying to prepare”. Of course I made baklava with store bought fillo dough - that’s easy. But the problem is how to make home-made dough baklava or some healthier version of this tasty treat. My idea was to make it with whole wheat flour and with less sugar. While the baklava without much sugar is an impossible task, often sugar can be cut in half and also be replaced with healthier choice of natural sweeteners like honey or agave syrup. However, the dough of whole meal flour is usually difficult to roll out very thin, so baklava becomes hard and it should be soaked in syrup for days to become edible. I experimented with all kinds of nuts, including pistachios. I came to my version of syrup made with honey, which is excellent. Recently I was at a Turkish dinner, for dessert, of course, was the baklava...and then I tried to make it again but didn’t get much further again. Around the same time my daughter came across and interesting cookbook in the library. It was the Persian children's cookbook titled "Happy Nowruz" Cooking with Children to Celebrate the Persian New Year, from Najmieh Batmanglij. Cookbook is full of wonderful sweets served for this holiday, many of which we tried.
Among other delights, there was a recipe for baklava. The baklava was made up of only two layers of dough with almond filing in the middle, which I immediately recognized as a potential for my idea of baklava from whole meal flour. It was full of spices, and the idea with rose petals immediately won me visually. But still I had to change the flour, reduce the sugar, I added honey, flax seeds, mint, and changed the amount and selection of few spices. That’s how this fragrant baklava recipe was accomplished and it has become our favorite family recipe and the secret that I am unveiling to you to celebrate spring. If you cannot get rose petals, remember this recipe soon, when first roses start to bloom.
1 cup whole meal flour (240 ml)
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour (360 ml)
1/2 cup butter (113 g)
1/4 cup oil (60 ml) (olive, coconut or sunflower)
1/4 cup milk, soy, rice or cow’s (60 ml) slightly more, if necessary
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rose water
1 1/2 cups almonds (360 ml)
1 1/2 cups walnuts (360 ml)
1/4 cup ground flax seed (60 ml)
1/2 cup brown sugar (120 ml)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup honey (180 ml)
1 1/2 cup brown sugar (360 ml)
1 1/4 cup water (300 ml)
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon rose water
For the garnish:
10 blanched almonds, chopped
1 tablespoon dried rose buds petals (available in Mexican groceries)
½ tablespoon dried mint
In a bowl, sift flour and mix all other ingredients for the dough. Knead until smooth adding more milk if necessary. Divide the dough it into two pieces, wrap in foil and leave to cool for 30 minutes or longer.
To prepare filling place all filing ingredients in a food processor and process for few minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease baking sheet.
Roll out one half of dough very thin, slightly larger than the baking sheet. Place the dough on the sheet, and leave the edges of the dough to hang over the edges of the sheet. Evenly distribute the filling and pat it well with hands as much as you can. Roll out another layer of dough and cover the filling. Fold the edges of the dough neatly.
With a sharp knife cut the baklava diagonally, so that you get diamonds shapes 1 inch wide. Brush the surface of baklava with two tablespoons of oil and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until it gets nice and golden.
In the meantime prepare the syrup combining honey, sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to boil and when all sugar is melted, remove it from fire and stir in the rosewater and lime/lemon juice. Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately pour the syrup evenly over it.
Decorate with the almonds, rose petals and mint. Cover the baklava with aluminum foil and leave to soak and cool down for at least 2 hours before serving.
This Baklava is prepared with no excessive amount of syrup in order to avoid too much the sugar consumption. Therefore, it is best the other day, so feel free to prepare it few days ahead. If you like juicy baklava make some more syrup, but keep in mind that way you will take much more sugar which, honestly, is really unnecessary.