Baklava

Baklava

 

     Baklava is a special pastry that you may see popping up in the bakery section this holiday season. It is of Middle Eastern origin, and is composed of sheets of phyllo dough brushed with butter and layered with finely chopped nuts. Honey syrup is poured over the pastry after baking and soaks between the layers to sweeten up the crisp phyllo. (Brief history lesson: “Phyllo” literally means “leaf” in Greek. It was named for the thin layers that the dough is rolled into).
     I have been wanting to attempt baking Baklava for several years, but was always intimated by its complicated structure. For the past few weeks, I have been scouring the internet for tips and tricks on how to make the pastry, (I even watched a video tutorial).
     After finally making Baklava, I realized that it is not as hard as it looks. Yes, it takes some time and patience to put the 40 layers of phyllo in the cake pan. (And just the care of the phyllo sheets in between layering can be daunting). Cutting the Baklava without tearing apart the top layers takes some precision and patience. However, the end result is a sweet, crunchy, nutty goodness that I will definitely be making again.
The honey syrup after being simmered…It will thicken as it cools.
Melted butter with brush
(I used a brand new paint brush because it was nice and thick and covered the phyllo quickly before it dried out).
One pound of filling ingredients
(I used 1 cup walnuts, 1 cup pecans, and 1 cup dates).
Brushing the bottom layers with butter

 

Sprinkling the nuts over the brushed butter

 

Another view after sprinkling the nuts;
You don’t need to completely cover each layer because as you add layers, the space will eventually fill up for each piece.

 

The cut Baklava before being put into the oven.
Only cut to within 1/2 inch to the bottom.
(This will prevent the honey syrup from sinking to the base of the pan after it is baked).

 

A close-up view of the pastry before being baked

 

Out of the oven;
The top layer should be lightly golden and not burnt.
If you do happen to burn the top, just remove the affected layers before pouring the syrup over.

 

The finished product:
The honey syrup has been poured and allowed to seep between the layers. The Baklava has been cut all the way through after cooling.

 

Place the Baklava in double-lined cupcake liners.
This prevents it from getting soggy in the pan.

 

I stored the Baklava in pie plates and then put it in the microwave (to keep air particles from landing on it).
Baklava can be stored in an airtight container for 3 weeks on the shelf or up to 2 months in the refrigerator.
Just be aware that the Baklava will not stay as crisp if it is covered. (The honey acts as a natural preservative which is why it lasts so long).

 

Baklava
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 1 (16 oz.) package phyllo dough
  • 16 oz. chopped nuts
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup honey
Instructions
  1. Begin by making honey syrup. Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla and honey and simmer for 20 minutes over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and cool in refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 inch pan.
  3. Combine the nuts, sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. Unroll phyllo dough. Layer two sheets phyllo in the pan, one on top of another. Immediately cover remaining phyllo dough with a sheet of plastic wrap and a damp towel on top of the plastic wrap. This will keep the dough from drying out between layering.
  5. Brush the dough with melted butter. Layer 6 more sheets of phyllo dough on top, brushing with butter on every other layer. (Remember to cover the unused dough with the wrap and towel).
  6. Sprinkle about ¼ cup chopped nuts over the buttered dough.
  7. Place two more sheets phyllo dough over the nuts. Brush with butter. Sprinkle with more chopped nuts. Continue layering: 2 sheets phyllo, brushed butter, nuts, until there are 8 sheets of phyllo left.
  8. Brush every other sheet of the remaining 8 phyllo sheets with butter. Butter top layer.
  9. Cut the Baklava into 24 squares, to within ½ inch of the bottom of the pan.
  10. Bake for 55 minutes, or until top layer is lightly golden. Remove from heat and immediately spoon honey syrup evenly over Baklava. Cool several hours before cutting all the way through.
  11. Place each piece in a double-lined cupcake wrapper and store uncovered to keep the Baklava moist.

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Comments

  1. Michelle Renee' says:

    UPDATE: I’ve been making this recipe every Christmas since I posted it. I’ve learned two important tricks to getting the best results possible:
    1. Add the vanilla extract after removing the syrup mixture from the heat. This prevents the flavor from boiling off.
    2. Wait one week before cutting the baklava through all the way and putting into cupcake liners. The extra time setting allows the syrup to soak through more evenly and thoroughly. Plus, this is one of those desserts that tastes better as it ages.

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