Baklava Is Better Late Than Never!

Baklava - Recipe

The guilt, the GUILT! I’ve been neglecting my fellow web team members’ taste buds as of late. Most of the edibles I have cooked recently haven’t been able to make it into our web team office. That’s why it’s completely understandable that when I stumbled upon a picture of baklava the girls in the office automatically labeled it my duty and responsibility to make it for them. This is the part where it gets even more sad…

Due to my (awesome) trip to St. Louis and lack of time at home it took me nearly two weeks to make baklava for them! They waited patiently while each passing day brought more dishonor to my culinary name. Eventually my fantastic group of office ladies became skeptical that I would even bring in this Greek (or Turkish?) treat! I not only had to prove them wrong but I HAD to make a pastry worthy of the wait.

You know you’ve done a good job making baklava when the diner eats it up and then goes after the crumbs! Now that I know my recipe is fairly delish it is time to post it up so my office mates can use it in the future!

Ingredients

  • 16 oz package of phyllo dough
  • 1 pound chopped nuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup real honey

Directions

I want to start out by telling you a little bit about making baklava. THIS IS NOT THE DESSERT TO MAKE RIGHT BEFORE A PARTY! Constructing a good baklava can be a time consuming experience but worth it! Also, when choosing the kinds of chopped nuts to use in your baklava keep in mind that pistachios and walnuts are a more traditional combination. I used nothing but pecans in my recipe and it turned out equally great so the choice is really up to your personal tastes!

Start out by making the sugary honey sauce for the baklava. A lot of people tend to make the sauce while their baklava is in the oven but this isn’t a great idea. First of all the sauce will still be fairly hot when the baklava pops out and will cause the baklava to turn soggy once you’ve added it. For a great baklava you want to have a completely cooled sauce to pour into your piping hot phyllo dough.

To make the honey syrup add your water, brown sugar and white sugar to a pan and bring to a slow boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and then stir in the vanilla and honey. Let the syrup simmer for 20 minutes and then take it off of the stove to cool. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Add the teaspoon of cinnamon to the nuts and mix well.

Time to butter it all up! Take a 9 x 13 pan and brush it down very well with melted butter. I actually bought a new really cool brush, ISI’s dual basting brush. This brush made from silicone so it’s easier to clean than a natural bristle brush and is very heat resistant. I love how I can switch the brush head from one side to another for optimum use and differing brush angles! Pretty cool and very affordably priced at $4.55.

Now that you have the pan buttered up unroll a roll of phyllo dough. Tip: keep a clean, moist towel close by to cover your dough as it will try out easily. Carefully take your first paper thin sheet of phyllo dough and lay it into the bottom of the pan. The edges of the sheet may be going up the side of the pan so just fold them back. Don’t worry too much about having a perfectly flat piece of phyllo either. Baklava is best when it is full of wrinkles and layers.

Brush the phyllo sheet in your pan LIGHTLY with the melted butter. Don’t over butter the sheet or you’ll get a soggy baklava. I know, I know, butter IS amazing but I promise just a thin coat will do. Keep on adding layers of phyllo dough and butter until you have 8 layers of dough.

Butter the 8th layer like the others and then sprinkle a small handful (or about 3 tablespoons) of the chopped nuts onto the layer. Add 2 layers of buttered phyllo on top of the nut layer and then add more nuts. Repeat these layers (nuts, buttered phyllo, buttered phyllo, nuts) until you are out of chopped nuts. On top of your last nut layer you should have enough phyllo left over for about 5-8 buttered phyllo layers!

Now that the long job of assembly is done, it’s time to get slicin’! For this you will need a VERY sharp knife. You can slice it in any shape you desire whether it is in squares or triangles but make sure you DO NOT SLICE ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM. Slice about half way through. Once it is out of the oven and sauced up we’ll be able to slice it the rest of the way. This lack of complete slicing keeps the sauce from pooling at the bottom and allows it to spread within the pastry.

Bake your pastry for about 50 minutes. It should be a beautiful golden brown! Immediately begin spooning your cooled honey sugar syrup into the cuts of your pastry. Once all of the syrup is gone let your baklava cool completely before serving. Another last bit of advice: don’t cover it while its cooling or it will (once again) become soggy.
Remember: Soggy baklava is sad baklava. [:’(]