Today on the blog we feature Abir Zain's baklava recipe and share the results of last month's baklava workshop. This workshop, which sold out overnight, was led recent immigrant Abir Zain, who is new to province and has recently started making baklava. Abir explained that when she lived in Syria she never learned how to make baklava as she was easily able to purchase the sweet pastry in many local shops. Since her move to Newfoundland Abir has been unable to find the dessert and has created her own recipe based on family recipes from her mother and mother-in-law. Abir's baklava uses homemade cream cheese in addition to chopped pistachios and syrup.
Heritage Foundation Executive Director, Jerry Dick, measures and cuts the phyllo pastry for baklava.
In early March the Heritage Foundation worked with Abir to offer a baklava workshop to showcase this traditional pastry which is being baked and shared in the province today. Twelve participants came out to learn how to make their own baklava and were joined by a video crew from CBC.
Phyllo pastry with homemade cream cheese - ready to be folded!
Abir started the workshop by explaining how to prepare the phyllo pastry with melted ghee and how to properly cut the squares necessary to create the traditional triangle shaped dessert. Abir then went through the process of making homemade cream cheese and whipped up a batch to cool in the freezer. While the cream cheese was cooling Abir demonstrated how to make the syrup which is spread over the pastries as a finishing touch. The participants then placed a dollop of cream cheese in their pasties and shaped the baklava into triangles.
Abir showing two participants how to shape the pastry.
Michael Philpott and Dale Jarvis of the Heritage Foundation trying to lit the propane oven.
While there were a couple of technical difficulties lighting the propane oven once these were taken care of the baklava was placed in the oven at 350' F for 20 minutes. During this time folklorist Dale Jarvis sat down with Abir to discuss traditional Syrian food, what food she remembers from her childhood, and the types of food she cooks and bakes for her family of seven.
Abir Zain talking food with folklorist, Dale Jarvis.
Once the baklava had baked for 20 minutes it was broiled for a short time to colour the top of the pastry. Then the syrup was spread over the pastries and crushed pistachios were sprinkled on top! The finished product looks beautiful and tastes amazing! Abir has been taking orders for her baklava and is hoping to soon sell the pastry at the local St. John's Farmer's Market.
Abir Zain with several baklava workshop participants.