Baklava: Am I missing something here? (First time trying, not happy)

So I was excited that Safeway had a big tray of baklava. Oh boy, never tried that stuff before and always wanted to. :slight_smile: I think I’ll get some!

Whoa…hey now, 16 bucks? That’s a little steep. Ah well, I’d heard it was expensive, so it’s not like I was unprepared for that price. So, I buy the tray.
I get home, unwrap it, eagerly try one…

…and it sucks.

What am I missing here? Obviously something. Surely these have to be secretly more what they seem (which is basically little, hard (almost stale-like) pastries). They can’t just be these mini, gooey, croissant-like things that taste like cardboard (a little)? Because if that’s all they are, consider that the most uneventful, underwhelming, and anti-climatic experience of my life (at least when it comes to new foods, heh).

Maybe I just got a bad batch?

I wouldn’t care so much if it hadn’t had the sixteen dollar price tag. Now I have a (fairly) big tray of baklava and no idea what to do with it. I suppose I’ll eat it over the next few days; it doesn’t taste horrible, after all…just…not great/good either. Oh, and did I mention they’re hard-ish?

I think the issue is that it was Safeway Baklava, which probably has as much to do with real Baklava as Safeway Bagels have to real bagels. Chain grocery stores are not the place to get ethnic food.

Go find a good Greek or Middle Eastern restaurant or bakery to buy Baklava at, and you’ll get what you’re looking for. It should not be anywhere near stale - it should be yummy nut gooeyness covered in honey, wrapped in paper-thin phyllo, and covered with even more honey. Yum yum yum. It should be so rich that more than a few bites makes your teeth hurt.

Nope. Puff pastry with nuts and honey. The pastry is pretty stiff. It should’nt be cardboard stiff though.

But it’s puff pastry, honey and ground up nuts.

I think the first likely had something to do with the second. Good baklava shouldn’t be hard. Might be a little denser at the lower levels, but not actually hard.

Good baklava made fresh with high-quality honey and pistachios rat is pretty sublime in my opinion. However you have to like b) flaky filo dough, b) very sweet, gooey honey and c) nuts, preferably pistachios. At least in the standard version.

Not to come off all snobby and foody ( believe me I eat my share of packaged and canned crap, especially at work ), but IMHO the Safeway bakery is an awful place to get most kinds of pastry. I’ve tried them many times over the years and usually been disappointed. But then I also live in an area where good restaurant-quality baklava is just a ten minute drive from my house.

Yeah, the bottom (brownish part) is much more stiff than the top part. It definitely crunches a little when I bite into it. You saying it’s not supposed to do that?

Baklava should be incredibly flaky, not hard at all. And it’s so sweet that a square less than an inch on a side is a complete serving, and makes you fear diabetic shock.

I’ve never liked storebought baklava. Too sticky and the honey soaks into the dough and you’re never quite sure if you got the paper backing off all the way because it’s all the same consistency. Now, when my greek godmother makes baklava, that’s some good eating. Still don’t want more than a piece or two at any one sitting but the experience is much more flavorful.

Filo dough, not puff pastry.

Layers and layers of crisp flakes that melt in your mouth with honey-nutty goodness in between.

It should be crisp and flaky, but not like chomping down on a solid mass of hard CRUNCH.

Never had store-bought that was worth a damn.

I alway hit the Greek Festivals they have around here just to get some decent baklava.

Oh, I thought it was your first time making the stuff. I’ve made it for years now and though I was a wreck the first few times, now I can run up a batch in an evening as easy as making a box cake. Sorry your store-bought isn’t good. Maybe you could give it away to people? Put little pieces in cupcake papers and bring it in to work or something?

Can you return the uneaten portion? It may seem a little weird to return food to a grocery store, but people do it all the time*, and if something is very expensive and not very good you shouldn’t have to pay for it. It sounds like you got some crappy baklava there.

*from my experience working at a food co-op

Make your own. It’s a bazillion times better. Once you do it a time, or two, you’ll never consider buying it, again. The store-bought stuff is crap. Homemade rocks!

To be fair, there is such a thing as good store-bought baklava. One of the grad students is Turkish, and brings back a few boxes every time he goes home to visit. Of course, that’s bought from a Turkish store, and he probably pays an arm and a leg for it. But it’s possible.

I’ve always found store-bought baklava to be pretty dry and hard. It should not be like that. It should be soft and ideally dripping with sugar syrup. Also it’s really best when it’s warm.

We do ours with walnuts, not pistachios, and I generally tend to prefer that as well.

As has been said, fresh is best but there are was of getting the best out of what you have.

I’d warm it up first (microwave for a very short burst) that softens it slightly.
And serve it with a very sharp and thick Greek/Turkish style yogurt. (no…no…no sugar in the yogurt at all) or something like a creme fraiche/framage frais.

Just a little dab on top is perfect to offset the sweetness.

There should be rosewater in there somewhere too. Baklava IMO should be a bit squishy and crunchy at the same time, dry would be awful.

Or, maybe you’re just not a fan.

I’m not. And yes, I’ve had the good stuff.

I had a similar experience with a small tray of supermarket-brand shrimp and cocktail sauce. Absolutely vile.

At least I know what the good stuff tastes like.

I bought a small tray on my first visit to the new Downtown Phoenicia. That’s an international market with a Middle Eastern emphasis. And an in-store bakery.

Wonderful stuff. But I took it to work to avoid sugar shock. It’s amazing how many of my co-workers said “my favorite!”

As mentioned, it’s great fresh. The pastry should be crisp but not stale and it should be moist, not dry. It’s great with coffee or really strong tea.