Yesterday I had a family reunion to attend for my wife’s family. The perfect opportunity to make my extra special top-secret Baklava recipe. This is one of my oldest recipes, I learned to make it from a Greek pastry chef more than 20 years ago and have to this day only shared it with one other person.
This recipe is using Phyllo dough and you must work very fast with it so it is very important to have all of your ingredients ready before you begin assembly of the final product. On a scale of 1 to 10 on difficulty I would put this recipe at an 8 due to the time restraints involved in making it so don’t feel bad if it does not come out perfect the first time you make it.
5 cups of cold water
3 cups of sugar
6 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
You need to make the syrup well in advance as to bring it down to room temp(Extra is great, also good on pancakes).Combine all the ingredients.
Bring to a boil then take it down to a simmer and allow it to lightly thicken, once it cools it will thicken more.
Remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves, put the syrup aside until the baklava is finished. Do not refrigerate it must be at room temp.
Ok here we go for the baklava you will need the following.
13 X 9 in pan
1 LB of butter
2 lb. of phyllo dough
1 LB walnuts
¼ cup cinnamon
½ cup sugar
Damp clean towel preferably white
Remember once you open the pyhllo dough you must work fast. It is easier to work with the dough if you slowly thaw it in the fridge over night.
First you need to grind the walnuts but be sure not to grind them to fine you still want a lot of good pieces for consistency.
Combine the walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and mix well.
Open the defrosted phyllo dough remembers you must work fast. You need to look at the dough and find the best looking ( Meaning not torn ) sheets and save them for last about 6 sheets they will go on the top.
First you want to cover the bottom with 2 layers of phyllo dough be sure to butter each layer,next you want to line the outside of the pan so what you are going to do is put about 1/3 the sheet inside the pan with the rest of the sheet of phyllo hanging out of the pan do this on all 4 sides
this will go over the top once you have stuffed the baklava you may want to have some water and a brush so you can keep this phyllo damp otherwise it may crack when you fold it over if you do not work fast enough.
Layer the bottom with 1/3 of the walnut mixture then you want to drizzle butter over the top of that.
Now you should take the phyllo and lightly crumble it so it looks like a crumbled sheet of paper this will give it good layers and make the final product much lighter,
cover the entire bottom with the crumbled phyllo.
Next drizzle with butter you should cover the entire layer with butter.
Next layer is 1/3 of the walnuts then drizzle with butter
Now repeat with crumbled phyllo than butter, you should repeat this step one more time. Be generous with the phyllo between layers.
Now you want to fold over the sheets of overlapping phyllo then cover each with butter. Take the reserved phyllo dough and layer the top, phyllo, butter, phyllo, butter all six sheets.
Be gentle with the sheets because the better condition they are in the better your baklava will look. If your phyllo overlaps the pan you can take a sharp knife and clean it up but be care full not to tear these layers.
Now it is time to bake the baklava this is where you need to use a little judgement set the oven to 325 and bake for 45 minutes then you should raise the temp to 350 and bake till golden brown depending on your oven this could be 15 minutes to as long as 30 minutes if you have a hot oven you may want to adjust both temps some people will cook baklava for 2 hours at 300 but I don’t like the end consistency when you do this I believe it is just a little to dry.
As soon as the baklava is done you should pull it out of the oven and pour the room temperature syrup over the top of the baklava evenly the reason this is at room temp is because it will absorb better into the baklava. If you wanted to you could pour hot syrup over room temp baklava but I find it absorbs more the other way after you add the syrup you should let the baklava set for at least 4 hours then cut and enjoy depending on how you cut the baklava it can make as many pieces or as little as you want.
And the final product comes out moist and yummy every time if you follow the directions precisely, this is not a recipe I would experiment with. I know you will Enjoy it