The key to making amazing baklava? Just roll with it
How difficult can it be? I often ask myself this happy question before embarking on any new dish. With trial and error, and many revisions, I come up with what I feel to be the quintessential version. In this case, I tried many different ways to make baklava before settling on this one, which, I humbly admit, is really very good. It’s not difficult to make because the phyllo dough is already made for you and available in the freezer section at the supermarket. But it takes a bit of patience. A lot of patience. The result is a baklava that will amaze your friends.
Here are a few tips:
- You may need more than 1 cup melted butter. If you do, melt it and just roll with it.
- The phyllo rips. Patch it together and just roll with it.
- To clarify butter, skim off cloudy milk solids after melting.
30 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted
1 lb chopped walnuts
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted and clarified
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Grease bottom and sides of a 9” x 13” pan.
In a food processor, process walnuts until finely minced. Transfer to a medium bowl and toss with sugar and cinnamon.
Unroll phyllo dough. Cover loosely with wrap from packaging to keep it from drying out.
Place 1 sheet of phyllo in pan. Brush with a small amount of butter, covering sheet of phyllo completely in a thin layer of butter. (Seriously, I use my well-washed hand to smooth on the butter. Phyllo rips easily. If it does, don’t worry, just use the ripped pieces, laying them side by side to make a whole sheet.)
Repeat, covering each sheet with butter, until you have 8 layered sheets. Gently spread 2/3 cup nut mixture over phyllo to edges.
Repeat with 6 sheets and butter. Spread with 2/3 cup nut mixture.
Repeat with 6 sheets and butter. Spread with remaining nut mixture.
Layer 10 additional sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter, except the top sheet. Using a spatula, press down on the layers to compress slightly. Spread remaining butter on top sheet.
Using a sharp knife, cut into diamond shapes or squares. (This will make the honey sauce soak into each cut and will make it easy to serve.)
Bake at 350˚F about 35 to 45 minutes or until golden.
Meanwhile, make honey sauce: In a large saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil over medium heat. Cook until sugar melts. Add honey, cinnamon stick (or cinnamon) and vanilla. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick.
As soon as baklava comes out of the oven, pour hot sauce over the top, making sure sauce drops down through cut lines. Let cool before serving.