I have a confession to make…for the longest time I was incredibly afraid of filo pastry. You know, the ingredient that is a staple in Greek cooking and baking, the ingredient that is so delicate you could look at it and it will tear (okay, so I’m slightly exaggerating here but it does tear rather effortlessly if you handle it the wrong way). While I’ve always wanted to make baklava, I never actually have. I somewhat feel that baklava is one of those treats you should just enjoy…not spend globs of time making. But as I had copious amounts of filo pastry whiling away in my freezer that was going to expire soon, I realized that it was now or never in terms of overcoming my filo pastry fears.
I decided on a recipe from my cookbook The Book of Greek Cooking. This cookbook series offers authentic yet simple enough recipes for the cook who doesn’t have the time or fortitude to make the type of recipes that Yiayia would have made (Yiayia of course is the Greek word for grandmother). The recipe I adapted was actually called “apricopita,” a take on the famous Greek dish spanakopita. As I’m not the biggest fan of apricots, I decided to make it using peaches which seemed like a very summery thing to do.
While I had a few mishaps with some of the filo pastry sheets (i.e. they ripped after handling them for a split second which resulted in me crumbling them up and throwing them into a corner, don’t worry I threw them out during cleanup), I have to say that I did pretty well. I definitely won’t be adverse to trying out another recipe that calls for it in the future. And for the record, my peachkopita tasted great. It wasn’t overly sweet (not like baklava which after eating a bite of it, you feel your teeth aching between all of the butter and honey used), but offered just the right amount.
recipe adapted from The Book of Greek Cooking by Lesley Mackley
1 can of peaches (in lite syrup, preferably)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons butter, melted
12 sheets filo pastry
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups ground blanched almonds
-In a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree the peaches along with the sugar and vanilla extract.
-Preheat the oven to 375 F. Brush a 13″ x 9″ baking pan with melted butter. Lay a sheet of dough in the pan and brush it with butter. Repeat with three more sheets.
-Spread peach puree on top. Cover with 4 more layers of buttered dough sheets.
-In a bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff but not dry. Whisk in brown sugar. Fold in ground almonds. Spread meringue on dough.
-Cover gently with 4 more sheets of buttered dough. Tuck top layer of dough down sides. With a sharp knife, cut diamond or square shapes in dough, down to meringue layer.
-Dust with powdered sugar, then bake 40-45 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve warm or cold, cut into diamonds or squares, and dusted with more sugar.
Makes 6-8 servings