A sweet made with nuts and phyllo pastry, baklava has been popular in the Middle East and Turkey since the Ottoman Empire. Walnuts or pistachios are traditional; I substituted cashew nuts.
There are so many formulas for making baklava. Some have only two layers of nuts. The number of phyllo pastry sheets at the bottom, between the nut layers and on top can be anywhere from four to ten.
In this recipe, twenty phyllo sheets were used. Six on the bottom, six on top and two layers each with four sheets in the middle.
Don’t be scared by the amount of butter and syrup specified in the ingredients list. You need that much butter to brush between the phyllo sheets to prevent them from sticking to one another during baking. And you need all that syrup to bind the layers of phyllo and nuts after baking.
- 20 sheets phyllo pastry thawed
- 2 cups crushed roasted nuts divided into three portions
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 250 grams butter melted
For the syrup
- ¾ cup white sugar
- ¾ cup honey
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Spread the phyllo pastry on your work area and cover with a damp kitchen towel to avoid drying out. If the size of the sheets is not the same as the size of your baking pan, cut the sheets to make sure that they will fit snugly. You can refreeze any excess.
- Whisk together the crushed nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
- Brush the bottom of the baking pan liberally with melted butter.
- Carefully lay a phyllo sheet on the bottom of the pan. Dab with melted butter. Repeat until you have a stack of six phyllo sheets all dabbed with melted butter.
- Spread one portion of the nuts on the stack of phyllo pastry.
- Make a stack of four phyllo sheets on top of the nuts, each dabbed with melted butter.
- Spread the second portion of the nuts on the second stack of phyllo pastry.
- Do another stack of four phyllo sheets, all dabbed with butter, then spread the remaining portion of the nuts on top.
- For the top layer, make a stack of six phyllo sheets–again, each sheet dabbed with melted butter.
- Take a sharp knife and cut the unbaked baklava into two to three-inch squares or diamonds.
- Bake the baklava at 350F for 30 minutes.
- While the baklava bakes, make the syrup by simmering together the sugar, water and honey until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice.
- Take the baking pan out of the oven and recut the baklava. Make sure that all pieces are cut all the way through.
- Pour the syrup over the hot baklava. Allow to soak for a few hours before serving.