A baklava of epic proportions.
For the filo, in a mixer, combine flour and salt and combine thoroughly on a slow setting, using the paddle attachment. Combine water, oil, and vinegar together separately. Slowly add this mixture to the flour.
Continue mixing on low speed until the dough gets soft. Mix until all the ingredients to come together, adding more water if dough is too dry. Replace the paddle attachment with a hook attachment and continue mixing for about 10 minutes. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead for 2 more minutes by hand. While kneading, pick the dough ball up and throw it down on the counter several times to help push out any trapped air. Use about 1 tsp of the vegetable oil to coat the entire dough. Once coated, set aside in a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes for the dough to set.
Cut the filo dough into roughly equal portions. About 30 separate balls of dough.
While you are rolling one piece of dough, keep the other pieces of dough covered so that they do not dry out.
Start rolling circular pieces of dough on a long dowel. For the first couple of inches, roll the dough trying to maintain a circular shape. While rolling, dust with cornflour. Continue rolling the dough on the dowel by wrapping the dough around the dowel and rolling back and forth. Place the dowel slightly above the bottom of the dough. Wrap the dough around the top of the dowel so that part of the dowel is completely covered in dough. Roll the dowel back and forth to thin out the dough.
Unwrap the dough by rolling the dowel back towards you. Rotate the dough 90°, flour it lightly, and repeat the rolling process.
Roll, rotating after each big back and forth, until the dough is translucent. Stretch apart very carefully to get even thinner dough. Using your hands carefully stretch apart the sides of the dough, making sure to rotate the dough in your hands. Place each finished sheet of filo on top of each other on a well-floured baking tray. Repeat until all the dough is rolled out.
For the syrup, bring the sugar, honey, split vanilla bean seeds and bean, cardamom and water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring occasionally until it reduces to syrup consistency, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and orange blossom water and set the syrup aside to cool. Remove the vanilla bean when cool.
For the baklava, preheat oven to 175°C. Grease two 30 x 37cm deep baking pans. Trim the filo sheets neatly so they will fit in the pan. In a food processor, coarsely grind the pistachios and walnuts. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and pulse to combine. In another bowl make a second batch using the pecans and dates along with cinnamon. Line one pan with one sheet of filo pastry and brush it with butter, repeat 5 times. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture over the top. Top with another 7 sheets of buttered filo pastry, followed by 1/3 of the nut mixture. Top with 8 sheets filo pastry, buttering in between each layer.
Brush the top of the phyllo with butter and trim the edges.
Use a very sharp knife to cut 6 lengthwise strips through the top (layer) of the dough. Slice each strip diagonally into about 6 diamond shapes. Repeat the process with the second tray using the date and pecan mixture.
Bake the baklava until golden brown and crisp, about 50 minutes. Remove the pan to a rack and carefully cut through the scored lines. Pour the cooled syrup over the hot baklava. Sprinkle with additional chopped pistachios to decorate.
For the tower, place baklava in a circle at least 6 pieces high leaving dips in some places to resemble a falling structure. Make small structures on the outside walls for support. Place ground pistachio’s around the tray to resemble rocks and stones. Also add a few whole ones inside to resemble people.
This recipe has not been edited or tested by the Bake Off Food Department
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