You feel that in your mouth? Those are your salivary glands screaming, “Feed me!” Wow, this was insanely delicious, especially after I gave up trying to keep it “healthy” and just doused it with a second round of syrup. For Baklava, either indulge, or don’t even bother. This recipe worked amazingly, but you can substitute any nut for the ones I’ve listed if you want to. Also, you can do more than one layer of nuts, though I only did one, and if you decide to, you’ll need to increase the measurements below. All of the portions for the nuts are after they’ve been chopped.
What you need:
1 pkg of phyllo dough (if you’re in Israel, this is not puff pastry) **I used one pkg, but if I made it again, I would buy two pkgs. Bottom line, you want about 22 sheets and the packages in Israel are only 15)
1 1/4 cup of unsalted butter; clarified (click HERE to learn how to do this. don’t ditch the recipe because this seems scary!)
about 1/2 cup pistachios; chopped coarsley
about 1/2 cup walnuts; chopped coarsley
about 1/2 cup almonds; chopped coarsley
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cardamon
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Incidentally, you’re also going to need a cooking brush or a baster, a baking tray, a damp towel and a knife.
For the Syrup:
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
1 tsp of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp each of rose water and orange blossom water (I didn’t have orange blossom, so I did a little more rose water) *this is also optional, since I know that for a lot of people eating rose water feels like eating perfume, or your grandma.
How to do it:
Believe it or not, this will take under 15 minutes!
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grab a dishtowel, wet it completely, wring out well and set aside. This is for the phyllo dough which will need to be covered since it dries out quickly. No biggie. If your clarified butter was refrigerated, warm it up. We need it! Before getting started, go get everything and make sure it’s all nearby. And because the phyllo dough is so tempermental, familiarize yourself with what we’re going to do so you don’t need to constantly check back and forth: 10:2:10. Ten sheets on the bottom, two in the middle and ten on the top layer of the baklava. After ever two sheets, you need to butter the phyllo dough with your baster/brush.
Combine your nuts and pour 4 tblsp of the clarified butter over them. Combine well.
Butter the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking tray well with your baster/brush. Roll out your phyllo dough carefully and place it flat. If some of it is torn, don’t worry, okay? Make sure you have 22 sheets. If you forgot that detail at the store, just make sure you have an even ratio on the bottom and top and a multiple of two sheets in the middle. If numbers stress you out, just try and make it work. If your sheets are big, cut them in half (or so they fit easily into your tray without too much “muffin top” happening). You want about 1/4 inch hanging over, which we will use as filler later on.
Divide your phyllo dough into two piles: one pile with the first ten sheets we’ll be using and the other with the remaining twelve. Cover the pile with 12 with your damp towel. Place two sheets into your tray, push it into the edges, and layer on some butter. Do it again. And again until you’ve used all ten.
You should have some phyllo dough hanging over the edges. With a knife, trim the hangover pieces and place them under your damp towel. Your phyllo should now look like this:
Now, onto a quick technique I discovered here. Take the scraps that were hanging over and crumple them up like a tissue. You’ll want to try and get as many small balls out of the scraps. If you run out, do the same with one sheet.
Butter this layer generously. Place two sheets of phyllo dough onto the crumbled sheets for a flat surface. Place the nuts onto this flat surface and spread them out evenly.
Cover with the remaining sheets, still two at a time and buttering after every two. Try and conserve some butter, however, for the top coat. Tuck the edges in or trim them away and discard. If I could go back, I would have trimmed more precisely.
Cut three columns down your pan and then cut horizontally to make four rows. You can keep them as squares, or cut each square diagonally.
Butter this top layer and place into the over for 45 minutes, or until the top becomes browned. While that is cooking make your syrup. Bring water and sugar to a boil and let boil for about ten minutes, a little less is fine, too. Then add your lemon, rose water and orange blossom (or not). Give it a stir. Take it off the heat and let cool while the baklava cooks.Pour your syrup into the cracks and crevices of the baklava immediately after this comes out of the oven and listen to that nostalgic snap-crackle-pop sound. You don’t want to pour it on the top because it will get soft and sticky, but if that’s yo’ thang, go ahead. Pouring it only into the cracks and crevices retains the crunch with all the soft gooey insides. Garnish with ground pistachio. *Use about 3/4 c of the syrup and keep the rest for people who want theirs sweeter. Let it sit uncovered for at least one hour. Will keep for three weeks in tuperware.