I learned how to make baklava from my grandma Vera when I was little, and she used to make it in old film reel canisters, which is kind of a genius idea, although I'm not sure how sanitary it was. I'm just going to assume that she washed them real good beforehand, ok?, and then not think about it anymore...
Anyway, it's not hard to make baklava, but it is kind of time consuming, so I don't make it very often. I do try and make it about once a year at Christmastime to send some to Chris' Great Aunt Marian. It's really easy to ship since it really doesn't spoil quickly, and actually gets better as it "ages". (I totally made that up, I'm not sure it gets better, but I do know it doesn't get stale like other cookies do). Anyway, I made some again this year and decided to share my recipe with you!
Here's what you need:
4 c (1 lb) finely chopped walnuts1/2 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
I use my food processor on the pulse setting to finely chop the nuts, then add the sugar and cinnamon at the end and pulse a few more times to combine.
1 ¼ c melted butter (that's 1 1/4 CUPS, or 2 1/2 CUBES, so yeah, that New Years Resolution is going to be don't eat so much baklava next year)
16 oz phyllo (this comes frozen, in the frozen dessert section). Working with phyllo is a little bit tricky because it can dry out pretty quickly. Make sure you prepare your other ingredients BEFORE you get your phyllo out, and then lay it on a clean, dry surface. Cover it with a piece of plastic wrap and then lay a damp kitchen towel on top of that...pull the plastic wrap and towel back to grab your phyllo, and then recover while you're spreading your butter (as described below). Here's my phyllo hiding under a damp towel:
Now we're ready to assemble the baklava! Brush the bottom of a 12x17x1 pan (I just used my large sized "cookie" sheet from Costco) with melted butter. Layer about ¼ of your package of phyllo in the pan, brushing between each sheet with butter. Here you see 2 sheets of phyllo which fit in my pan, if it gets ripped or wrinkled or anything it totally doesn't matter, since each sheet is spread with butter, and there are multiple phyllo sheets for each layer.
Sprinkle 1 ½ c of filling on top. Repeat phyllo layers and filling twice.
Finish with layer of phyllo and drizzle any remaining butter over top. Trim edges to fit pan, and cut into diamond shapes. (Note that you cut BEFORE you cook).
Bake at 325 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly in pan on rack.
While your baklava is baking make your syrup:
1 1/2 c sugar
¼ c honey½ t shredded lemon peel
2 T lemon juice
2 inches cinnamon stick
In a saucepan stir together syrup ingredients. Bring to boiling, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
Remove cinnamon sticks and pour syrup over slightly cooled baklava. Cool completely, allowing all that delicious syrup to get soaked up by the baklava.
To ship baklava: I wrapped between layers of waxed paper, tied with a ribbon, and then placed the waxed paper package inside of a ziplock, and the ziplock inside of a small shipping box (between some crumpled up tissue paper).
To store baklava: It lasts at least a week (if you don't eat it all before then) stored at room temperature. I actually leave it in the pan I made it in, which happens to have a lid. If you don't have a lid for your pan I would just cover with foil. If you want to keep it longer than a week or so I would put it in the refrigerator, or even the freezer.
I put these two baklavas on a plate for the sole purpose of photographing them for this blog post.
And then I ate them. Both.
Have you ever made baklava before? Do you think you'll try it now? Do you have anything that you love to make every year?
PS This is my 1,000th post! Are you completely bored of me yet? Wait, don't answer that. ; )