Baking Baklava for Thousands at Dayton Greek Fest

BY: Lisa Seibert
last updated 08/18/2016
Baking Baklava for Thousands at Dayton Greek Fest

Did someone say "Baklava"???

Baking Baklava for Thousands at Dayton Greek Fest

Ladies preparing baklava for Daytonn Greek FestA small army of ladies at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church are hard at work preparing sweet treats for the Dayton Greek Festival. I still can’t believe my luck at having an opportunity to be there as they prepared baklava for the event. I got a lesson in the kitchen with mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters, the kind where they teach you how they stitch love into every bite.

The smell of butter on arrival was unmistakable. It came as no surprise that every paper thin layer of phyllo pastry dough was generously coated with clarified butter. Two pounds of phyllo, two pounds of processed walnut spice mixture, and untold amounts of butter make up each pan. They make it look easy; though admit the process is very time-consuming.

Having never worked with phyllo myself, I was amazed at how thin it is, and how difficult it was to separate one layer from another. Nine layers at the bottom, 9 layers at the top, several layers in between topped with the spiced walnut mixture, every layer generously buttered to get that flaky crispy just right texture.

Making Baklava for Dayton Greek Festival

Completed pans are moved to the baking room where each pan is cut before baking. Connie, Baklava Committee Chairwoman demonstrated how helpful the custom plastic guides are in keeping the spacing and angles consistent while telling stories of using thin strips of wax paper as measuring tools in “the old days”. A mist of water before they go in the oven keeps the crispy top layer from flying off when they come out.

Once baked, each pan is topped with more than 4 cups of syrup. After letting the syrup soak in for a day, one more cutting before being whisked off to cold storage. Then perfect pastry portions are boxed for sale, and any “imperfect” pieces are crushed to top the ever popular baklava sundaes.

Connie told me they expect to bake approximately 150 trays, about 11,000 pieces, by festival time.

Now we have only to wait until the weekend after Labor Day to partake. Dayton Greek Festival will happe September 9-11.

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Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church - Ministering to the Miami Valley for over 75 years.

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