Thursday, May 12, 2011


I love baklava and have eaten a lot of it. I've tried it with all different types and nuts, shapes and flavours. They ones I have enjoyed the most have been made by friends - crispy and moist but certainly not dry.

Since this was my first attempt, I used the easiest recipe I could find. I didn't want to get fancy, I just wanted to get a feel for the technique and how it all came together.

I've concluded that putting baklava together is not hard. Once I had everything ready it came together without mishap but it did take a while to assemble. Covering the phyllo is essential because if the sheets get dry and break you'll have a hard time brushing with butter. Scoring the phyllo turned out to be fairly easy, though I did make one incorrect cut. A sharp knife = success. Once you're done, congratulate yourself. All you have to do now is bake it and pour hot honey all over the top. Easy.

Overall, a great recipe for all bakers. It turned out crispy on top and chewy-moist throughout. You can mix it up with different nut and flavourings but if you're looking for a 'classic'-tasting baklava, this is for you.

Recipe: Baklava


4 cups finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 lb phyllo pastry leaves (1 package), thawed
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups honey
1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 300 F (150 C)

In a large bowl, toss together the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Unroll the package of phyllo pastry onto a sheet of waxed paper. Cover with a second sheet of waxed paper and a clean dish towel. (The waxed paper will keep the phyllo from drying out and the towel will keep the whole thing weighted down and covered.)

Brush a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) rectangular baking dish with some of the melted butter. Now, remove one full sheet of phyllo pastry from the stack and place in the baking dish, allowing it to extend up the sides of the dish. Brush with melted butter. Repeat until you have 6 layers of phyllo pastry in the baking dish, brushing each one with melted butter. Sprinkle with 1 cup (250 mL) of the walnut mixture.

Now, cut the remaining sheets of phyllo pastry crosswise in half. (A half sheet of phyllo should fit the baking dish almost exactly.) Place one of these half-sheets over the layer of walnuts in the baking dish. Brush with butter. Repeat until you have 6 layers of phyllo, each brushed with butter. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the walnut mixture.

OK, so far we've used half of the walnut mixture. Right? Repeat this procedure - 6 sheets of phyllo, 1 cup walnuts, 6 more sheets of phyllo, another cup of walnuts, blah, blah, blah - until all the walnuts are gone. The top layer should be 6 sheets of phyllo pastry.

Trim away the excess phyllo pastry (the stuff that's sticking up from the bottom layer overhang) and brush the top with melted butter. with a very sharp knife, cut through the top few layers of pastry in a diamond pattern (4 long rows, then diagonally across) and bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the top is golden and crisp.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the honey with the lemon juice until hot but not boiling. Spoon the hot honey evenly over the baklava as soon as it comes out of the oven. Let cool completely before cutting into diamonds (along the pre-cut lines) and serving. Makes at least 24 pieces.