Baklava is one of those recipes where you think it must be super complex (there are so many layers!), but when you actually make it, you realize there aren’t that many ingredients, and the process is fairly simple. I wouldn’t have believed any of this, but Sandy, whose recipes have appeared on my blog in the past (Trout Farm Apple Pie, Mud Pie, Oh Henry Bars), gave me a pan and her recipe for Christmas. So obviously I had to give it a try.
Now, to be honest, this was actually my second attempt at Baklava. When she first gave me the recipe, I tried to make Baklava for a family event. I succeeded in making something edible, but it definitely was not a blog-worthy effort. I blame the fact that I didn’t believe the tips that were written into the recipe about working with phyllo dough, and that Baklava is not a recipe to try to make when you’re in a rush. This time, with an afternoon free, the recipe went off without a hitch.
The first step is being realistic about phyllo dough. The package has thawing directions. Follow them. You can’t rush phyllo dough, and it’s not particularly forgiving when you try to do so. So the night before you want to bake, move the phyllo dough from the freezer to the fridge to thaw. You’ll use half the package, so you can leave half in the freezer. I am for some reason completely unable to find whatever “normal” version of phyllo dough Sandy assumes I’ll use, which she says fits the pan she got me perfectly, but the Whole Foods version I found this time worked if I cut the stack in half.
Two hours before you’re going to start assembling, you can take the phyllo dough out of the fridge and leave at room temperature, still in the package.
After all that thawing time, you’re ready to get going. Start by chopping up the nuts. Use whatever you have on hand – I had pistachios, walnuts, and pecans in my pantry, so I mixed them all together and pulsed in a food processor until chopped, with some bigger pieces still visible.
Then, transfer to a bowl and toss with the cinnamon.
Then, butter your pan. My pan is this cute little one, about halfish the size of a 9×13, that perfectly fits half of a large sheet of phyllo dough.
Melt the two sticks of butter over low heat and transfer to a bowl.
Now you’re ready to start layering. Open the package of phyllo dough and unroll. Cover with a damp cloth. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. You don’t want the dough to dry out while you’re working. The damp cloth is huge.
Put two sheets of phyllo dough in the bottom of your pan.
Brush with melted butter to coat. Place two more sheets of phyllo dough, and brush with butter again. Repeat until you’ve used 8 sheets of phyllo dough.
Then, over the melted butter, sprinkle about 3 to 4 tablespoons of the nut mixture. Cover with two more sheets of phyllo dough, spread with butter, sprinkle with nut mixture. Continue this layering until you’ve used up the nut mixture.
Finally, go back to laying two sheets, spreading with butter, and laying two more sheets. The top should have 6 to 8 sheets this way, without any nut mixture.
Pop the whole pan in the freezer for 10 minutes. This will make cutting the baklava easier.
After 10 minutes, use a sharp knife to cut triangles out of the baklava, making sure to cut all the way to the bottom of the pan.
Bake at 350°F for 50 minutes, until golden brown.
While the baklava is baking, make the sauce. Boil the water and sugar until all of the sugar has dissolved.
Then, add the lemon and honey and simmer for about 20 minutes.
When the baklava is done baking, remove from the oven and immediately pour sauce over it.
Allow to cool completely in the pan. When cool, you can remove the triangles and place them in cupcake wrappers for serving.
These freeze well, but otherwise should be eaten fairly quickly so they don’t get too soggy. Pete and I had them for dessert last night!
See? Baklava isn’t THAT hard to make.
- 1/2 package of phyllo dough
- 1 pound chopped nuts
- 1 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Thaw the phyllo dough according to package directions.
- Pulse nuts in a food processor to chop finely. Toss nuts with cinnamon.
- Melt butter over low heat. Transfer to a small bowl.
- Butter pan. Place two sheets of phyllo dough in the bottom. Spread with melted butter. Repeat until you’ve used 8 sheets of phyllo dough.
- Sprinkle with 3-4 tablespoons of the nut mixture. Place two sheets of phyllo dough. Spread with melted butter. Repeat until you’ve used up the nut mixture.
- Place two sheets of phyllo dough. Spread with melted butter. Repeat until you’ve got a top layer of 6-8 sheets of phyllo dough.
- Freeze pan for 10 minutes. Then use a sharp knife to cut into triangles, making sure to cut to the bottom of the pan.
- Bake at 350°F for 50 minutes, until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. Boil water and sugar until all the sugar dissolves.
- Add the honey and lemon juice. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- When you remove the baklava from the oven, immediately pour sauce over the top. Allow to cool completely in the pan before placing wedges in individual cupcake wrappers for serving.