Dienstag, 9. Oktober 2012

Th one with the book that was the hardest reading experience - MoFo Book Challenge #9 - Abdias

As this book is quite unknown I want to give you a short summary: A rich northern African merchant called Abdias becomes defaced. His beautiful wife rejects him and when they finally seem to get together again she is killed in a moggery. Abdias takes his baby daughter and emigrates to Germany where the blind girl grows up. He spoils and loves her to death and when she finally dies in an accident he states that life has taken everything from him.

Reading Adalbert Stifter's book Abdias wasn't an easy thing for me: It is often priggish and the whole writing is so obviously Biedermeier, that people like me who love free writing and new aspects in storytelling and language have problems to get a connection to it. It all starts with the connotations in the beginning which are typical for Stifter's writing: He writes about beauty, about fate and about the driving force of this short novel, the Job theme. As soon as you get to know about his biographic circumstances you cannot ignore that he kind of writes a story about his own life. I don't like Stifter's language too much, as it is very flowery and overloaded and I would not have finished the book if it hadn't been compulsory for class. Having this said it is not a bad book at all. It is one of those books you really have to work with until you get an idea of what kind of beauty lies inside. It is one of those that feel really strange, that I had to fight with to access the authors world and that still is not absolutely clear to me. Stifter and I would not have been friends. But it also is one of those works that force you to step out of your comfort zone and I think this never is a wrong thing.

As the first part of the plot is located in Northern Africa I wanted to make a dish that is not that common in vegan cooking as Hummous or Baba Ganoush, but still easy to veganize. Then I thought about reflecting the overload of Stifter's language and immediately it came to my mind: Baklava.
There is nothing sweeter and fattier than baklava: when overload had a face this would be it. You have to drink a cup of really black coffee with it to compensate the sweetness. But nonetheless it is one of the tastiest things in the world. If you are into counting calories this is the worst thing you might ever imagine. I am sure one tiny piece has more calories,sugar and fat) than a proper meal should have.
Most recipes ask for butter, but I often heard that using oil is better as it makes the treat storable. (Even though I don't think there is any chance you will ever need to store it, it will be gone within a few moments...) But if you prefer you can also use molten marge.

Instead of filo dough (you can get it at Turkish and Middle Eastern stores) I used puff pastry, as this is easier to grab for most people around the globe and the results are still awesome! If you happen to live close to a store that offers vegan filo dough, you will enjoy to use that instead, the procedure is exactly the same. The version I made is a cheaper option, but if you manage to get your hands on 1/2kg pistachios without going broke you will love to give a whole pistachio filled baklava a try. I also suggested dandelion honey as an ingredient, but do not know how common it is outside Germany. If you do not know about it make sure you try this as well! But don't be afraid to sub with agave syrup, the difference is not too big. 

right from the oven

cut into less proper rhombs

I love these layers!

4 pieces puff pastry that fit your baking pan (or: filo dough)
500g nuts (I used 200g pistachios, 200g walnuts, 100g almonds; I suggest to always use pistacios and sub the rest with what you have at home/easily can grab)
100g icing sugar
1tsp cinnamon powder
1 pinch cardamom (optional, I love it, others hate it)
plant oil

400g sugar
400ml water
100g dandelion honey (sub with agave syrup)
5 cloves, 1 tsp cinnamon

grate nuts and mix with sugar, cardamom and cinnamon, grease both sides of the puff pastry pieces with oil, put one piece in a greased baking pan, spread nut mixture on it, put another piece of puff pastry on top and proceed this way until you put the final puff pastry piece on top, this one is only greased with oil

bake at ~160°C for ~20-30min until the top turns golden

in the meantime produce syrup: cook all ingredients for ~10min, then remove cloves carefully

when the baklava is done, spread syrup over it and allow to infuse (best over night), then cut into rhombs


  1. Your baklava looks lovely! I've never made it before and haven't eaten it in years but now I'm craving it.

    1. Thank you, Mel!

      It looks much more complicated that it is, in the end it only takes a few minutes. The most difficult thing about baklava is to allow them to infuse over night. ;)

  2. I've been meaning to make baklava for such a long time! Thanks for the reminder! i love using pistacios

    1. Oh, I hope you make your own batch! Baklava is so awesome!


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