Classic baklava

I love baklava. It’s such a delightful mix of textures: crispy, crunchy, buttery, sweet, gooey and nutty.

For some reason, I’ve always been intimidated by the thought of making it. Maybe because I’ve heard horror stories about working with phyllo dough. It dries out easily, it tears easily, and if it’s too wet, the sheets stick together.

But, given the current lockdown, it felt like a good time to tackle a challenging project like this. I read a few articles to mentally prepare myself, like this one. Still, I was bracing myself to hate this process.

Turns out, it was much simpler than I thought. The key was prepping the ingredients ahead of time, using a silicone brush to brush on my butter, and thawing out the phyllo in the fridge.

I was thrilled by the result.

This baklava was exactly like the classic baklava I grew up loving. It’s the perfect texture and flavor, and I got lots of oohs and aahs from my family.

Now that I’ve made the classic version, I can’t wait to experiment with different flavor combinations! Next, I might try some Nutella, maple syrup, or pine nuts and hazelnuts in my baklava. The possibilities are endless.

If you’re nervous about making baklava, don’t be. Give it a shot!

Ingredients – baklava

  • 16 ounces phyllo dough, thawed in fridge for 6 hours
  • 2 sticks butter, melted (you may not need it all)
  • 2 cups nuts (walnuts, pecans, pistachios, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Ingredients – syrup

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Ingredients – garnish

  • 2 tablespoons pistachios, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a food processor, pulse nuts, cinnamon, and cloves until nuts are finely chopped.
  3. Lay down 1 sheet of phyllo dough. Using a silicone brush, gently brush with butter. Repeat with 7 more sheets.
  4. Spoon half of nut mixture over phyllo, spreading it across the dough until the dough is covered.
  5. Repeat step 3 with 4 more sheets of phyllo dough
  6. Repeat step 4 with remaining nut mixture
  7. Repeat step 3 with 8 remaining sheets of phyllo dough. Place tray in fridge for 20 minutes.
  8. Using a very sharp knife, cut baklava into diamond shapes and bake for 30-35 minutes or until tops and edges are golden brown.
  9. While baklava is baking, make syrup. Combine water, honey, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, and lemon peel in a medium saucepan. Bring syrup to a boil then lower heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and remove cinnamon stick, lemon peel and cloves. Set syrup aside and let cool.
  10. Remove baklava from oven. Pour syrup over baklava. Let sit for at least 8 hours.
  11. Using a mortar and pestle, gently pound chopped pistachios a few times until you have some pistachio powder plus a few small pieces. Sprinkle mixture over baklava with a spoon. Serve.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for upto 2 weeks.

Tips

  • Walnuts are the classic nuts used in baklava, but you can sub in any nuts you like. I was short on walnuts and had to sub in pistachios, and the recipe still turned out great.
  • When spreading the melted butter on the phyllo, use your silicone brush to first drizzle on the butter, then gently spread or even dab the butter on. You want to be super gentle so you don’t snag the phyllo dough.
  • It helps to place a couple fingers on the edges of the dough to keep the sheet from moving.
  • If a couple of your sheets tear, don’t sweat it. Try to arrange them across the pan so you have full coverage for that layer. The butter and syrup will act as a glue and hold everything together, so your cracks won’t be noticeable.

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