Baklava

Baklava

Makes 30 to 40 small pieces.
By Dennis W. Viau; from a friend’s recipe.

If you’ve ever tasted Baklava you know how uniquely delicious it is. Flaky and chewy, layered with honey and walnuts, it is a sensuous and delicate confection. Its origin is obscure, although most foodologists believe that it comes from the Ottoman Empire, the center of which was Turkey. If you have the patience to work with fragile sheets of phyllo dough, this recipe is easy to prepare.

Ingredients:


1½ pounds (680g) walnuts, finely chopped in a food processor
½ cup (3½ ounces/100g) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Zest of ½ lemon
Zest of ¼ orange
1 box (1 pound/454g) phyllo dough sheets
1½ cups (350g) butter; melted
For the Syrup:
¾ cup (5 ounces/150g) sugar
¾ cup (175ml) water
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Zest of ½ lemon
Zest of ¼ orange
½ cup (120ml) honey (5.3 ounces/150g)

Directions:

Combine the walnuts, sugar, ground cinnamon and cloves, and both zests in a bowl.

Lightly grease, or line with parchment paper, a 9x13-inch (23x33cm) metal baking pan. (I don’t recommend using glass; it might crack when you pour on the syrup.) Place a sheet of phyllo in the bottom of the pan and brush lightly with melted butter. Arrange another sheet on the first, crossing the grain, and brush again with butter. Continue until you’ve used about 8 sheets.

Sprinkle 2 or 3 tablespoons of the nut mixture evenly over the dough in the baking pan. Layer another phyllo sheet on top, again lightly brushing with butter. Continue layering the walnut mixture and phyllo sheets, brushing with butter, until all the walnuts are used up. Finally, layer another 8 phyllo sheets on top, buttering as before. I find that pressing down gently all the way around to condense the layers gives me a firmer finished baklava. Brush the top surface with butter.

Cut through the layers of phyllo, scoring about 1½ inches (about 4cm) apart to section into diamond shapes. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until browned. Remove from the oven.

While the baklava is baking, combine all the syrup ingredients in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved (the liquid should look dark and clear under any foam that might rise to the top). Set aside.

When the baklava is ready to come out of the oven, warm the syrup until hot. Pour evenly over the hot baklava, letting it settle into the grooves cut earlier. Let cool completely. Cut again and serve.