Baklava Biscuits

 This weekend, enjoy these Baklava Biscuits with family and friends!

Originally Published in Issue 16 | Mar / Apr 2015

What’s not to like about a pastry with beautiful layers of flaky pastry sheets lightly brushed with butter and filled with a thick honey-and-nut spread? After deciding that a Middle Eastern brunch was the direction I’d take for this article, I was inspired to add something sweet and balance such a wonderfully savory main dish.

Biscuit recipes are often underrated. There are a variety of tastes and textures with each. For this recipe, I wanted something layered and flaky similar to the dough used for traditional baklava. After the biscuits have cooled for a couple minutes, unfold one of the layers close to the center, fill with walnut butter, replace the top, and generously spoon honey syrup. The recipe makes 15 biscuits. You will probably have leftovers. Thank you letters can be mailed to The Lakelander office, haha.

FLAKY, LAYERED BISCUITS

4-1 ⁄ 2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. baking soda
1-1 ⁄ 2 tsp. salt
1 ⁄ 2 cup cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
1-3 ⁄4 to 2 cups cold buttermilk
1 ⁄ 2 cup unsalted butter, plus 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature, cut into 1 Tbsp. portions
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter melted (optional, for brushing tops)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (500 degrees if using a convection oven).

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Cut cold butter into dry ingredients with a pastry blender. (Mixture should resemble coarse crumbs, with no large chunks of butter.) If butter gets very soft at this point, refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes. Add 1-3/4 cups buttermilk, stirring just to moisten all ingredients.

Dough should be soft and moist; add remaining 1/4 cup as needed. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and knead gently about 10 times or just until dough holds together. Roll or pat dough into a 14-by-10-inch rectangle.

With the short side nearest you, spread top two-thirds of dough with 3 tablespoons soft butter, leaving bottom third, closest to you, unbuttered. Fold dough into thirds (like you would fold a letter) by pulling the bottom third up over the center and then pulling the top third over the middle.

Turn dough so the short side faces you. Pat into a 9-by- 12-inch rectangle.

In the same manner, spread again with 3 tablespoons soft butter and fold letter style. Turn once more in the same manner. Pat into a 9-by-12-inch rectangle; spread with remaining 3 tablespoons of soft butter and fold up.

Note: Work quickly and gently so as not to overwork dough or allow the butter temperature inside the dough to get too warm. Pat dough into a rectangle 3/4-inch thick on floured surface. For more consistent sizes, trim dough edges and cut into squares with a sharp chef ’s knife. Place on pan, 1 inch apart. Lightly brush tops with melted butter (optional). Bake in center of hot oven about 20 minutes (about 12 minutes in convection), until golden brown.

 

INFUSED HONEY SYRUP

1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 (1-inch) strip lemon zest

Combine the sugar, honey, water, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the syrup is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks and lemon zest, and set syrup aside to cool.

WALNUT BUTTER

2 cups walnuts
1 tsp. salt
5-6 tsp. walnut oil (preferably roasted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread nuts in one layer on a baking sheet. Toast until fragrant and lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Stir about halfway through the baking time. Add nuts to a food processor, discarding any dried skin and dust. Add the salt, and chop the nuts finely. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil. Whirl until the nuts are ground into butter, stopping to scrape down the sides two or three times. Keep in covered container and enjoy a new kind of nut butter.