When I was looking for a tasty cookie from Georgia, I came across this beautiful walnut tray bake. I thought I had found a regional variation of baklava, but phaklava pastry from Georgia is very different. It is made with nuts, but the pastry is firm with no layers. The filling is made with egg whites and no sugar syrup is used. Phaklava is a tasty nutty treat. The dough gets its delicate flavour and texture from sour cream, a widely used ingredient in Georgian pastry. The walnuts are also typically Georgian. They provide taste, texture and body in many sweet and savory dishes.
Phaklava is not the lightest of pastries. I made it in a fairly small tin, so the pieces are quite thick. The next time I make phaklava I will use a larger tin so the pieces are a bit more manageable. But I must say I had no complaints about the size from my cookie testers.
Phaklava pastry from Georgia
For ± 12 large pieces
160 g (⅔ cup) unsalted butter
80 g (scant ½ cup) sugar
100 ml (½ cup) sour cream
3 egg yolks + 1 extra for the top
300 g (2½ cups) flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 egg whites
300 g walnuts (2½ cups) + 12 to decorate
200 g (1 cup) sugar
also needed: baking tin ± 26 x 16 cm / 10 x 6 inches
Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl mix the butter with the sugar, the sour cream, 3 egg yolks, the flour and a pinch of salt.
Leave to cool and firm up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the walnuts coarsely.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
Whisk the egg whites in a clean, grease free bowl with grease free beaters until foamy. Spoon in the sugar bit by bit and beat into soft peaks.
Stir in the walnuts.
Divide the dough into two pieces. Make sure that 1 piece is about 50 g heavier than the other piece. Roll out the small piece into a rectangle of 26 x 16 cm and lay on the bottom of the tin.
Spoon in the filling and level out with a spatula. Roll out the second piece of dough into a slightly larger rectangle and place on the filling. Tuck in the edges.
Brush the top of the phaklava pastry from Georgia with most of the extra egg yolk. Score the dough crosswise with a knife so that 12 squares are created. Decorate each square with a walnut. Brush the walnuts with the remaining egg yolk.
Bake in the middle of the oven for ± 35 min. until done and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes in the tin. Remove from the tin and let cool completely on a rack.
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