Monday, December 15, 2008

Patoutha — New to me, but delicious!

I got this recipe out of Cretan Cooking by Maria & Nikos Psilakis, when looking for something new to bake for the holidays. The filling is very baklava-ish, and the shape like kalitsounia. They're incredibly tasty (if not loaded with olive oil), and not too sweet, which is how I like my pastries.

The dough:
2 cups olive oil
1 cup "alousia" or water
(you can prepare alousia by boiling 1 tbsp wood ash in 1 cup water, then strain and discard the ash — I opted for plain ol' nero, and it was fine)
1 cup orange juice

4 tbsp cognac (ie, Metaxa)

1 tbsp baking soda

more or less 1.5 kilos flour (about 3 lbs)

The filling:

1 kilo roughly ground walnuts and almonds (I bought a pound of each and ended up with left over, but I probably could've stuffed more into the crescents)

1 cup honey

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 tbsp grated orange zest

4 tbsps olive oil
(I couldn't bear to add that much, so I just did 2 tbsp)
1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp ground clove

1 tbsp cinnamon

4 tbsps ground toasted bread (I food-processed some unseasoned stuffing bread cubes left over from Thanksgiving)

Prepare the dough — in a large bowl, beat oil a little, then add the other liquids and the soda dissolved in the cognac. Finally add flour, bit by bit and form soft, smooth dough.

Prepare the filling — in a saucepan, heat water and add honey, olive oil and sugar; simmer for 2-3 minutes. Let it cool to being just warm, then mix with nuts, zest, spices and finally the bread.

Separate the dough into small balls and roll into circles. Place 1 tbsp of the filling on one half of each. Fold over to form crescents and press the edges together. Place on a baking sheet or on oiled baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden. (I set oven to 350° and baked for 15 minutes.) When they have slightly cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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