Are you like me and you weave your way through food blogs and recipe sites and photo just strikes you right in the gut?? and your gut says, “Hey, make that for me!” So you do.
Well that happened to me this morning. I was looking at a photography site and there was this picture of baklava, the Greek pastry we all love so much, just sitting there on the screen DARING me to bake it. I had the dough in the freezer and all the other ingredients so I was off to the races – the cooking races as it were.
I began by heating the oven to 150C and spreading the walnuts and pistachio nuts on a cookie tray and toasted them for about 7 minutes – just enough to bring out the flavor and because Maggie Beer said I should always do that with walnuts. (Thanks Maggie, you’re my foodie hero)
Next I prepared my work area so everything would be at my fingertips. Maybe it’s a throwback from my years working in manufacturing but the fewer movements I have to make, the better my cooking turns out. I never have to wonder what I’m looking for and everything gets put together in the order it should be.
Here’s my favorite Baklava recipe:
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- ⅛ tsp ground cardamom
- 1 cup honey
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tbs lemon juice - fresh squeezed
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 (1-inch) strip lemon zest - use a peeler to get this
- ¾ lb walnuts
- ¼ lb pistachios
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (8 oz)
- 1 pound phyllo dough, thawed
- Combine sugar, water, honey, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest, cloves and cardamom in a heavy bottomedmedium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved and begins to boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and cook until the syrup is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes or so. Remove the cinnamon sticks and lemon zest and pour syrup into a large glass measuring cup to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place an oven rack in the center of your oven.
- Place walnuts and pistachios into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the nuts, cinnamon, and salt and stir well to combine.
- In a small saucepan over low heat melt the butter.
- Using a pastry brush, lightly coat a 13 by 9-inch or 15 by 10-inch baking dish with some of the melted butter.
- Open the package of thawed phyllo dough and lay the thin sheets on a clean work surface. Using a sharp knife (or kitchen shears) cut the phyllo sheets approximately the same size as your baking dish. Discard any scraps because it will be a mess in the kitchen if you don't.
- Cover the sheets with a piece of plastic wrap and a lightly damp kitchen towel - not too wet or you'll make your dough stick together but the sheets of phyllo dough dry out quickly if left in the air.
- Place the first sheet of phyllo dough in the bottom of the buttered baking dish and lightly brush with some of the melted butter.
- It's okay if the dough has holes or breaks, nobody's going to see it and you'll have lots of other layers without holes.
- Repeat this procedure with 5 more sheets of phyllo, for a total of 6 layers.
- Measure about ¾ cup of the nut mixture and spread the nut mixture evenly over the buttered phyllo dough.
- Repeat with 6 more sheets of phyllo, buttering each layer as before, and then add another ¾ cup of the nut mixture.
- Continue this layering process, buttering 6 sheets of phyllo and topping each 6 sheets with ¾ cup of the nuts, until you have used all of the nut mixture.
- Layer the remaining sheets of phyllo on top, buttering each layer until all of the phyllo dough has been used.
- That wasn't so difficult, was it? I heard you say no. All the hard work is done - nearly.
- Use a sharp knife to make 4 cuts lengthwise partially through the layered phyllo at 1½ inch intervals. You want to cut a diamond pattern in your dough.
- If you do it right you should end up with approximately 36 diamond-shaped pieces of baklava in the baking pan.
- Bake the baklava until golden brown, about 40 minutes depending upon how your oven cooks. You want to take it out when the top layer is golden brown.
- Remove the baklava from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.
- Now for the yummy honey syrup! Slowly drizzle the syrup over all the baklava which will still be warm.
- Let the baklava stand in the pan for a few hours before cutting all the way through.
- It will do a dance in your mouth from the first bite.
Kristl Story says
The prep time on Baklava has always scared me, but 40 minutes sounds reasonable! I’ll give it a try!
Jennifer is Always Sick says
I really need to find a recipe that is nut free. My grandmother told me once how to make it, but I have forgotten. I will have to call her and get it, because I miss baklava! Darn food allergies!
Seriously, there’s nothing “difficult” about this recipe. No special techniques. You buy the pastry, slather it with butter using a paintbrush, whizz the nuts in the food processor, sprinkle them on after 6 layers of painted pastry – repeat twice.
It looks and tastes like you’ve spent AGES doing it.. that’s why it’s so cool.
Jennifer, if you find the baklava recipe with no nuts would you publish it and let me link it? I’ve never had baklava without nuts and never even thought of it without nuts! 🙂
Thanks for waking me up!
Ollie McKay's The Chic Boutique says
Ahhhh. . . . . Ohhhhhhh. . .Yummy!! Looks delish!!! I have never made, but have a friend who makes every year for Christmas and gives all her friends a fun little box filled with a few pieces!! I printed out the recipe ~ and maybe I’ll get brave and try to do it myself!! :))
Jennifer is Always Sick says
Neither had I, but my grandmother called it something else, and as she described the recipe to me, she was basically describing baklava, but without nuts. I will have to call her soon and ask her, although thinking about it, it may be awhile before I can talk to her about it, as my grandfather has been in and out of the hospital. I’ll keep you posted when I find out the recipe again. Thanks for visiting my blog!
I LOVE baklava, but have never made it. I think I may be able to follow your recipe! I will let you know how it goes. Maybe next weekend! 😉
I’ve never had Baklava, but that sure does look and sound delicious!
Unaware of Lebovitz till obtaining this cookbook, I was stunned by its diversity and creativity. It is right up my dessert alley, having a nice selection of what I like to make, with lots of tarts, pies, sorbets, crisps and cobblers, many of them fruit laden. The author describes this as the best of his repoitoire and then some additions and corrections.
I have had time to experience three of a mounting list of the “have to try” category: Pear Tart with Brown Butter, Rum and Pecans; Red Wine-Raspberry Sorbet and Banana Butterscotch Cream Pie (which uniquely has an unbelievably good toffee smoothness and taste with its chocholate-cookie crust. These were not that difficult to pull off and had amazing success and raving compliments from guest diners. That makes about 167 more recipes to try!
It comes with excellent sections on ingredients and equipment, along with tips and alternatives on many recipes, all with Ten Speed’s ‘par-for-the-course’ nice large format and exquisite color photos of most of the dishes.
Sure to become one of my go-to’s for great dessert!
beautiful baklava…the pictures are so nice and very delicious! i could eat them 🙂
love your recipes. Thanks for following me on twitter. have a great Sunday.
Shilpa Sharma says
I love Baklawa….never had the courage to bake it…It is pretty hard…but, one day I shall be brave enough to give this a try…
I wonder, will it be okay if i make it entirely of pistachio? Or maybe a mix of pistachio and cashew? My husband is allergic to walnuts…
Yes, that would be just fine. Pistachios are really expensive here so we mix them but any nuts will be wonderful once you add all the honey syrup. 🙂 Thanks a lot for stopping by!
Thank you for sharing this recipe, I got so many positive feedback and most old me it was he best baklava they ever had. I added some slight twists but you were he inspiration, thank you!
that’s fantastic, thanks so much for letting me know.
This is fantastic recipe Maureen.. I make almost the same baklava, sometimes I substitute part of nuts with ricotta cheese filling 😛
I made this recipe a couple of years ago for friends and it was delicious. One of my friends had a nut allergy and I made her a separate one using the same process with Sesame seeds? She loved it and it was a great alternative.
I love the sesame seed idea!
Finally a baklava recipe that isn’t confusing, thank you for making the directions clear & easy to follow. I plan on making baklava for my husband this weekend 🙂
Thank you so much, Carol! I hope your baklava turns out fantastic!
Our oldest daughter works for a local vet & we have 3 dogs, one of our dogs belongs to our oldest. Yes, we have grand dogs & the clinic gives us great discounts so I bake. The other day our middle dog had lab work done & guess what I’ll be making for the clinic? I’ll make a batch of baklava for them & a batch for us. Thanks for making the directions easy to follow. PS, our middle dog is a healthy 14 year old princess 🙂