Easy Baklava Recipe
Simply Delicious Pastry
Baklava ( pronounced bak la va ) is a gorgeous looking pastry made with layers upon layers of phyllo dough which is filled with chopped nuts and sugar and then sweetened with a heavy syrup usually made of sugar and honey. Makes your teeth hurt just to read it but it is oh so yummy.
Several years ago, while I was still working, one of our clients brought in this lovely tray full of baklava. I poured a fresh cup of coffee and helped myself to this delicious delicacy. It was sooo good. I'd never tasted anything like it. I had to have the recipe. I'd never done this before but I got on the phone and started tracking down the person who made this wonderful pastry called baklava. She was the sweetest lady and gladly shared her recipe with me. I don't know where she got it and, at that time, I really didn't care because now I have it and I couldn't wait to give it a try. In hindsight I really wish I knew where this recipe originated.
Anyways, I am going to share this baklava recipe with you and I hope you love it as much as I do. I always make it during the Christmas Season. I make several so that I have lots to "gift" away and some to keep at home for guests and anyone stopping by to say Merry Christmas.
What you will need
Start baking your baklava
Here is a list of the ingredients and tools you will need to start baking your baklava.
1 Box of Phyllo dough
1 pound of Walnuts ( 4 cups )
1 pound of butter ( don't skimp, use the real thing )
3 cups of Sugar
1 cup of Water
3 or 4 tablespoons of honey
Cookie Sheet with deep sides
small sauce pan for melting butter
medium sauce pan for making syrup
Long Bladed knife
Food Processor or nut chopper of some type
The above ingredients are common in the kitchen except for the phyllo dough. I buy Athens (name brand) phyllo dough which contains two packages of dough. I find that I use one whole package and need to open the other package and use 3 or 4 sheets of phyllo to complete one recipe of baklava. I live in Michigan and that happens to be the brand that is sold in stores near me, however, I am sure any brand will do.
Before you get started make sure you have all your ingredients out and all of your kitchen tools ready.
A pastry brush should be in every kitchen. Not only do they work great for making baklava but also when grilling and you need to brush on the bar-b-que sauces. Get the best brush you can afford and it will last for years
Chopping or Processing
Your first step in making the baklava is preparing the walnuts. I use a 4 cup measuring cup and fill with the walnuts and use a hand held chopper to chop nuts the size of peas or a bit larger. A food processor will work if you don't over process and make the walnuts too small. I'm a lazy cook and if I use my food processor it gives me something else I need to clean up and that's the part of baking I don't like. But you do whatever is best for you, just don't chop them so small they look like something you would put on an ice cream sundae.
Once the walnuts are chopped add 1 cup of granulated sugar and mix until the sugar is equally distributed among the walnuts.
Melting Butter and Making a Simple Syrup
The rich and the sweet
Now that you have your walnuts prepared for the Baklava it is time to melt your butter and make your syrup.
Melt 1 pound of REAL BUTTER. Please don't skimp here or it will really show up in the taste. Nothing beats the taste of the real thing and it would be the difference between a so-so Baklava and the best Baklava you've ever tasted.
While the butter is melting, using another sauce pan, combine 2 cups of sugar with 1 cup of water. Bring this to a boil and then add 4 tablespoons of honey. Once the boil has returned reduce the heat and keep this simmering while you are putting together the phyllo dough.
By now your butter has melted and you can bring this to your work area. You need an area big enough to have your cookie sheet, melted butter and walnut and sugar mixture all within reach while you are building your Baklava.
I keep several varieties on hand. That way you can have all your ingredients measured out and ready to use.
This is the size measuring cup I use most often.
Working With Phyllo Dough
Don't panic, it is easier than you think
Relax and start building your layers of dough. Phyllo dough is not that hard to work with but you do need to work as fast as possible and with a steady pace. You can't put one layer down then go have a cup of coffee. Once you start layering the phyllo dough you must complete all layers. once you start you'll get the idea and it will get easier with every layer.
First you need to brush butter on the bottom of your cookie sheet. Then you start with a sheet of phyllo dough. You will notice that one sheet does not cover the entire bottom of the cookie sheet, you will need to use two sheets of dough. The brand I use is a little longer so I must also fold one edge over. So, you have two sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom of your cookie sheet and now you need to use your pastry brush and spread butter over the entire sheets of dough. Make sure you cover the entire sheet.
You will make 3 layers of phyllo dough, each buttered and then use one third of your walnut and sugar mixture. Spread this mixture evenly over the phyllo. Proceed with 3 more layers of phyllo, another third of walnut mixture, 3 more layers of phyllo, your last third of walnut mixture and finally your last 3 layers of phyllo. You will end with phyllo dough. Remember each time you place a sheet of phyllo dough down it must be brushed with butter.
Now then, that wasn't so bad was it? You are almost done.
Jelly roll pan perfect for Baklava
Cutting the Baklava
How to Cut your Baklava
The cutting of your Baklava happens before you bake and it is what makes the pieces look so pretty.
Take a sharp knife and cut your Baklava in straight lines from one end of the cookie sheet to the other until you have 7 or 8 parallel straight lines. Now, take your knife and cut diagonally across your straight lines. Hopefully, you can see that from this picture.
This needs to be done very carefully so as not to disturb the phyllo dough. The sharper the knife the easier it will be.
Time to Bake
The smell is wonderful
You are almost finished. It really didn't take that long and you have a beautiful pastry that people are going to thank you for.
Once you have cut your Baklava it is time to bake. You bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes. The time will depend on your oven. The color should be golden brown.
While the Baklava is baking you should check on your syrup. You will notice that it has probably cooked down a little and it is a little thicker. The honey also gives it a golden color.
The finishing touch
Now that you have your Baklava out of the oven and it is looking wonderful and it is a beautiful golden brown you are probably thinking, what else could you possibly need to do. Well, you still have your syrup and now is the time to use it.
Once out of the oven place your Baklava on a flat surface and pour your syrup all over the top of your Baklava. That's right all over the top of the Baklava while it is hot.
You are now finished. Well not quite.....you still have a kitchen to clean up. I love to bake but this cleaning up part is not so much fun. By the time the kitchen is cleaned up your Baklava will be ready for the tasting. Sit back and enjoy.
I hope you find this recipe not only delicious but easy to do and that you will be making this every year and it will become one of your family's favorites.
Ben Baker plays while you bake
He's very good.
Great Books on Baking
These books are also great gift ideas for birthdays, wedding or shower gifts or just because gifts.